Tongan recipients awarded NZ Classic Music Award

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Press Release:

Tongan Guitarist Spencer Spencer Fusimalohi of the band HERBS and its Tongan manager Will ‘Ilolahia will be given the Independent Music NZ Classic Record award at next  Wednesday’s  Taite Prize ceremony at the Galatos Live club, Newton.

It’s official: The 1981 debut by New Zealand Pacific reggae pioneers Herbs is a classic..

The Taite Prize is an annual independent award for best New Zealand album which now also includes a retrospective recognition for past albums.

Herbs’ singer-guitarist Dilworth Karaka said the belated recognition was much appreciated. “It was our first bunch of songs that we’d ever recorded and was a strong indicator for the political material we would carry on to do – the memory has carried on, and it’s still our most popular record.”

One of the panel judges, Peter McLennan said: “”Herbs’ recording debut What’s Be Happen? holds up as a vital slice of our cultural history and a landmark for Pacific reggae.Dropping in the dark days of the 1981 Springbok Tour, the mini album showed the band pulling together a strong set of six originals … it’s still a crucial recording, to this day.”

Spencer Fusimalohi told Tongan community Crystal Friendly Islands 107.5fm radio in Avondale ” The album represents a time when NZ was going through alot of changes

 The album’s cover was an aerial shot of protesters being surrounded by police during the 1977-78 Bastion Point occupation.

Manager Will ‘Ilolahia and Maori rythmn guitarist Dilworth Karaka were arrested on Bastion while Will appealed  his conviction at London’e Privy Council and got aquitted

Will say’s ” Its because of this Privy Council acquital and our HERBS music that local Maori tribe  Ngati Whatua have won back Bastion point and millions of dollars in compensation

Among the six tracks, the songs addressed the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa (Azania) as well as police harassment of Polynesian kids in Auckland (Dragons and Demons), while Reggae’s Doing Fine was written as a tribute to Bob Marley who died in May 1981.

The first classic record prize in 2013 went to the self-titled album by The Gordons and last year it was awarded to the punk era compilation AK.79. This award will be the first time a Polynesian band ( including palangi bassist Phil Thoms) is recognised.

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