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Today we continue our New Zealand Music Month series showcasing the musicians in our midst—they are as diverse and inspiring as the ecosystems they help care for.

Ash & the Matadors: Simon Barr

Although solicitor Simon Barr does a stellar job for DOC, he is arguably better known as the former drummer for Dunedin band Ash & the Matadors.

Ash & the Matadors in-store at Play-It-Again Records. Photo: Verity Kerr.

Ash & the Matadors (with Simon on drums) in-store at Play-It-Again Records

The Mansion Tapes EP, its legendary launch party at Sammy’s in Dunedin (their biggest gig of the year), and seeing the album named “top seller” at Play-It-Again Records in Invercargill, were highlights of Simon’s time with the band.

Playing at a festival that was an organisational nightmare and steadily degenerated until the organiser got run over by the neighbour’s car as part of an ongoing feud, was undeniably a lowlight—“Sucky night that one.”

Watch Ash & the Matadors at Sammy’s supporting Jordan Luck:

Simon’s now jamming with two other guys doing solely covers—mainly 90’s grunge (i.e. “covers that we all actually like!”). 

Check out Ash & the Matadors on MySpace

Rose and the Wooden Hearts: Nick Turoa

Nick Turoa, in his role as acting Pou Tairangahau for Tamaki Makaurau, helps build opportunities for Mana Whenua to be involved on public conservation land.

In another life, Nick is bass player for band Rose and the Wooden Hearts, an Auckland based trio offering a brand of alternative country with rock and pop undertones.

Heath King, Rose Fischer and Nick Turoa.

Nick (right) with fellow band members Heath King and Rose Fischer

“Music is my creative outlet and keeps me young. I am a family man and I work hard, so the band gives me a small bit of time to hang out with my mates and make music,” says Nick.

“The way people interact with music is changing these days. People don’t see live music any more, they listen to it via the internet and social networks.

“Two things you can do to support local music: First, “Like” their pages online—funding for music these days is directly linked with how many views your YouTube videos have had, or how many Facebook “Likes” you have. Secondly, go to the pub, have a beer, listen to some new local music and get up and dance!!”

Watch Rose & The Wooden Hearts playing live on Kiwi FM:

Check out Rose and the Wooden Hearts on Facebook

The Westhighland Pipe Band: Rebecca Finlay

We know her as Rebecca Finlay, Business Service Ranger in DOC’s Kauri Coast Area Office, but to many she’s Pipe Sergeant Rebecca Finlay, with The Westhighland Pipe Band.

Rebecca (right) and the Westhighland Pipe Band.

Rebecca (right) and the Westhighland Pipe Band

Playing original Scottish music (although ‘Poi E’ has been incorporated into its repertoire) the band, created by Rebecca’s father, has brought Rebecca “many tears, smiles, frustrations and happy times”. Competing in the Tauranga National Pipe Band contest and seeing the band’s tenor drummers come first in their grade, was a particularly special moment.

Rebecca appreciates a wide variety of music and cites Fly My Pretties and six60 as New Zealand favourites, alongside Invercargill’s Piping Hot (featuring DOC’s own Judy Ward).

“When you have a passion for something (in my case music) then that filters through to your work. I have a passion for New Zealand—our  land and our people. So to be working in an environment that harbours my passion, and surrounded by many other passionate people, is a reason to get out of bed and enjoy your work,” says Rebecca.

Check out The Westhighland Pipe Band on Facebook

Olly Knox: Oliver Knox

Olly Knox.

Olly Knox

It has been nearly 10 years since DOC’s Oliver Knox (a trainee ranger at the time) formed Olly Knox in Gisborne. Since then Olly has performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, reached number 11 in New Zealand Reverbnation charts and, most importantly, got a ranger job (Visitor and Historic Assets) at DOC!

Olly’s favourite New Zealand song is Shapeshifter’s “Voyager” but, when choosing his most inspiring New Zealand musician, Oliver goes with Warren Maxwell from Trinity Roots/Little Bushman/Fat Freddys Drop. “He is a diverse musician who has been involved in many projects and you can find truth in his music.”

Working at DOC allows Olly to get into nature and the wide open spaces where inspiration flows. “A lot of my songs have an element of nature and connection with the earth through consciousness and meditation,” says Olly.

Connect with Olly Knox: Facebook | ReverbnationYouTube

Stay tuned for Part III of our New Zealand Music Month series, profiling the musicians in our midst, later in the week.

DOC’s got talent – and for once I’m not talking about our world-leading conservation work. Today, in honour of New Zealand Music Month, we’re kicking off a three-part series showcasing the musicians in our midst. From Brazilian samba to electronic pop punk rock, you’ll find DOC musicians are as diverse as the ecosystems they help care for – and just as inspiring.

Delete Delete: Kurt Shanks

Formerly bass player in stellar*, DOC’s Auckland based Communications and Engagement Advisor, Kurt Shanks, is now one half of the electronic pop punk rock duo Delete Delete.

The Delete Delete duo Kurt Shanks and Lani Purkis.

The Delete Delete duo Kurt Shanks and Lani Purkis

Although Delete Delete is still in its early days, their future looks bright. Their debut single Sedated has been selected as Song of the Day on music website Cheese on Toast and they’ve been interviewed on TVNZ U, where they played their new animated video (which is, by the way, completely wicked and one you’ll want to watch):

Kurt’s job at DOC sees him doing everything from generating local media coverage for Auckland-specific DOC projects, to unearthing new ways to engage and involve Aucklanders in conservation projects.

In Delete Delete Kurt does a little bit of everything too – from playing the guitar and keyboards to singing and co-writing songs.

Whether in his band, or in his work at DOC, Kurt is always trying to convey as economically as possible the core story or emotion. “Too many words blur the picture.”

Check out Delete Delete on Facebook

Tom’s Field: Sean Magee

“A tasty mix of folk/old-time fusion with contemporary and modern flavours” is how Nelson’s Sean Magee describes his bluegrass/folk band Tom’s Field. The group’s repertoire includes bluegrass harmonies and rhythms, stomping reels and jigs, original compositions and soulful songs all interspersed with cheeky irreverence.

Sean Magee (second from left) with his bluegrass/folk band Tom's Field.

Sean Magee (second from left) with his bluegrass/folk band Tom’s Field

18 months into his time with Tom’s Field, Sean – who sings and plays banjo and mandolin – says its a great buzz to play to a dance floor full of revellers. He recommends that you “bring your dancing trousers and be prepared to raise a sweat”.

Here he is (on the mandolin) at Motty Malones Irish Bar in Motueka. If this doesn’t get your feet tapping nothing will:

Originally from the north of Ireland, with an academic background in law, Sean now provides administrative support for the Nelson/Marlborough Conservation Board and DOC Conservancy Office.

Wellington Batucada: Kate McAlpine

DOC Science Adviser Kate McAlpine cites playing in the Rugby World Cup victory parade as her biggest moment with Wellington Batucada, a group she has been involved with for about four years.

Samba is the traditional music played by large percussion groups in Brazil’s carnival parades, and Wellington Batucada looks to emulate this tradition. Kate plays agogo bells and shaker, and is also gig coordinator.

Kate performing with the Wellington Batucada.

Kate (middle front with blonde pigtails) performing with the Wellington Batucada

At DOC Kate does scientific research and provides advice on environmental weeds.

Watch Wellington Batucada perform at the Rugby World Cup opening night:

Check out Wellington Batucada on Facebook

Stay tuned for Part II of our New Zealand Music Month series, profiling the musicians in our midst, next week.

The competition to win a limited edition copy of Wild Creations artists Rosy Tin Teacaddy’s new album All Mountains are Men is closed.

Jack van Hal, from Hillsborough in Christchurch, is our winner. Congratulations!

The challenge was to name the two New Zealand native birds featured in Bucketful of Bones and Beauty My Dear. The correct answers are:


Rosy Tin Teacaddy’s album All Mountains are Men is a national treasure, and we have a numbered limited edition CD to give away.

Wellington folk duo Rosy Tin Teacaddy

But more on that later. First I’ll try to explain why I’m sounding like such a tragic fanboy.

It’s partly a pride thing. The whole album was written and recorded in an isolated DOC cottage beside Lake Tarawera while the ’Caddies were on a Wild Creations artists’ residency so, in some small and frankly delusory way, I feel I contributed. And the whole Bon Iver, lonely-cabin-in-the-woods vibe doesn’t hurt.

Then there’s the way New Zealand past and present seems to have been captured in miniature in the songs. Released on the 125th anniversary of the eruption of Mt Tarawera, the record rings with echoes of the explosion that buried Te Wairoa and engulfed the Pink and White Terraces, the “Eighth Wonder of the World”.

The album was written and recorded at Lake Tarawera

Lake and mountain flirt shamelessly, the local telegraph master stays at his post to report the disaster as ash rains down and dead men turn up at their own funerals.

None of this would mean diddly if the songs hadn’t lodged themselves in my subconscious ever since a colleague played me the demos.

Apart from the title track, the songs I keep coming back to are a lament to the lost Pink and White Terraces called Beauty, My Dear, domestic-scene-with-disaster Out of the Frying Pan into Fire, and Telegrams and Ashes, which documents the eruption in staccato telegraphese.

The songs are mysterious and evocative, mythic and everyday, funny and sad, richly melodic and wrapped in beautiful harmonies. What Gillian Welch and David Rawlings do for Americana, RTT do for New Zealand’s songwriting traditions.

But don’t take my word for it.

Check out All Mountains are Men on Bandcamp.

Cover of Rosy Tin Teacaddy album All Mountains are Men

All Mountains are Men CD