NZ Music Month

NZ Music Month is an annual promotion run by the NZ Music Commission that celebrates Kiwi music and the people who make it. This May marks 20 years since this initiative began. Let’s celebrate and support our musicians and the music they make.

Watch via Beamafilm

The Chills: The Triumph & Tragedy of Martin Phillipps (2019)

Martin Phillipps and his band The Chills are icons of the kiwi pop scene. This intimate documentary follows Phillipps as he struggles with the reality of his own mortality. Finding humour in the blackest moments, Phillipps confronts a hoard of collected curiosities, looks back at his catalogue of hits, and ponders his place in the pantheon of the Dunedin Sound and Flying Nun Records.


Topp Twins Untouchable Girls (2009)

Part concept film, part biopic, part historical record and part comedy, this raucous documentary was made to mark the Topp Twins' 50th birthday. New Zealand's favourite comedic, country singing, dancing and yodeling lesbian twin sisters tell their personal story in this film that features archive material, home movies and interviews with the Topps' alter egos.

Reserve to read (for pickup post-lockdown)

Dead People I Have Known by Shayne Carter

Available in hard copy only. Place a hold here.

In Dead People I Have Known, Shayne Carter tells the story of a life in music. He takes us behind the scenes and songs of his riotous teenage bands Bored Games and the DoubleHappys, and traces the winding paths of his best-known bands the legendary Straitjacket Fits and funkadelic Dimmer


A Sharp Left Turn: Notes on a Life in Music, from Split Enz to Play It Strange by Mike Chunn

Available in hard copy only. Place a hold here.

A rollercoaster read about Mike Chunn's journey from ambitious artist to supportive mentor. From his years as a founding member of the ground-breaking group Split Enz, through struggling with a debilitating mental health issue, to becoming an influential music manager. Then in later life, paying it back through helping create NZ Music Month and co-founding Play It Strange, a charitable trust that supports young New Zealanders in their songwriting ambitions.


Blue Smoke: the Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music, 1918-1964 by Chris Bourke

Available in hard copy only. Place a hold here.

Chronicling the evolution of popular music in New Zealand in the early 20th century - from kiwi concert parties during WWI, through the arrival of jazz and the rise of swing, the Hawaiian sound and then rock n’ roll. This book reveals how music from the rest of the world was shaped by Māori and Pākeha New Zealanders into a sound that made sense on these islands.

Look and listen

Kiwi Kids Music is a collective of more than one hundred New Zealand musicians who love making music for kiwi kids and their families. Local musicians such as Anna van Riel and Craig Smith are part of the collective. 

For NZ Music Month, they are sharing a NZ Children’s Music Video every day on their Facebook page.

Make your Own Music

Ukulele for Dummies by Alistair Wood

Available via Bolinda BorrowBox as an eBook

The fast and easy way to learn how to play the ukulele. From purchasing a ukulele, to making sense of simple chord progressions and playing in a variety of styles—including pop, folk, Hawaiian, and holiday favourites—this book will have you creating beautiful music in no time.


Guitar For Dummies by Mark Phillips and Jon Chappell

Available via South Island Downloadable Zone/Libby as an eBook

This book has everything a beginning or intermediate guitarist needs: from buying a guitar to tuning it, playing it, and caring for it, this book has it all—and you don't even need to know how to read music!