Rachael Melanson is back with part two of her Audio Atlas on New Zealand, this time bringing us a city guide to Auckland titled 'Why are you still here?'. Sounds like she didn't have a great time, right? Read on to find out...

Part Two: Why are you still here? An Auckland City Guide

The evening I arrived in Auckland, I attended a panel discussion entitled "Why Are You Still Here?" at Alleluya Cafe off the Karangahape Road. It was curated by The Pantograph Punch, an arts and culture blog based in the city. The panel consisted of a fashion designer, an editor, a musician and a musical director. The discussion meandered between personal experiences of leaving the islands and what it was like to coming back to, musings on why some never return, and what the country could do, if anything, to encourage more creative individuals to stay in the country and make their work rather than leave for global cultural hubs such as New York and London.

This evening set a precedent for the duration of my stay in New Zealand. Meeting new people had been no problem at all, it's a very welcoming culture. Discovering new promising acts I was spoiled for choice, but by the time I had left so had many of these had parted from their roots for what promised to be bigger and brighter and full of opportunity.

I can empathise. After All, something had similar had sparked in me that resulted in being on the other side of the world. Even now, I've moved on to new pastures, writing this from my new city of residence, Vancouver. There's no one answer as to what drives the act to vacate, it could be the cost of flights, perhaps they hold dual-citizenship, perhaps its just that tradition of gaining Overseas Experience*.

Skip to my last weekend in Auckland, a few of us are having a couple of drinks before heading off to various shows. Its a busy night, Popstangers are playing a farewell show, before they relocate to the UK. They pop in and out of the gathering, hosted by Luke McPake, the director of their recent music video, as do support act for the evening, Deer Park, whose lead has recently returned from travels in India.

A few streets away there is a fundraiser happening at a warehouse inhabited by dancers for Ao Olm's future US/Canada tour. Leno Lovecraft is supporting, he's spent a fair bit of time in Paris. Also Golden Axe, half of which is due to leave on a six month stint in Europe.

Do you see a pattern forming?

Leaving doesn't equate to forever. Those who do well will always visit. Those who don't, well they've always got the support of their homeland when they return.

Recent successes of the last few years include Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Opossum and Die! Die! Die!, who all spawned from the infamous Mint Chicks (who I must admit I was oblivious to before the trip, despite their tour activity). Known in particular for their last show in which band member Kody Neilson, wrecked the set and told the audience to "start your own fucking band." They were also signed to Auckland based label Flying Nun Records, who have also in the past hosted 80s-90s experimental, noise, post-punk outfit The Dead C and Christchurch’s Bailter Space.

Auckland based label Lil' Chief is home to The Ruby Suns, Princess Chelsea and Cool Rainbows. And who could forget Kimbra! (though now residing in Melbourne, Australia)

Lesser known acts include Sam Hamilton, now based primarily in Portland, Oregon, and Chelsea Jade Metcalf, a.k.a. Watercolours who has spent a fair bit of time hanging out in New York and LA.

Dear Auckland NZ,

Sorry we keep snatching yer best acts.


The Northern Hemisphere


P.S, We are keeping tabs on the following...

Note: The above micro study of what is happening in Auckland, New Zealand is TOTALLY BIAS! There is so much more and I urge you to discover that for yourselves.

*Overseas Experience, or "OE" is the Antipodean equivalent to the British Gap-Year. Though it is more commonly take after graduating university, rather than before. Have you noticed how many New Zealanders work in boutique coffee houses in the UK?