MUS 149/149G : Rock to Reggae: Tracking Popular Music in New Zealand

Creative Arts and Industries

2024 Summer School (1240) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

An introduction to New Zealand’s home-grown popular music, from the 1950s to the present day. A broad range of musical styles will be considered and situated within various social contexts. The issue of cultural identity in music – at national and local levels – will also be explored.

Course Overview

Because popular music often reflects and sometimes shapes the society around it, this course will look at a broad sweep of New Zealand popular music from the mid 1940s to the present day in the context of New Zealand society, and the cultural, musical, social trends and political factors which informed it.

The aims of this course are:
- To enhance students' knowledge and understanding of New Zealand popular music from World War II to the present. A broad range of musical styles and genres and their historical significance and wider contexts will be discussed in relation to notions of cultural identity in music at national and local levels.
- To assist students to form an appreciation of how distinctive musical genres and trends emerged in New Zealand which adopted and adapted overseas models.

On completion of this course, students are expected to be able to:
- Recognise New Zealand musical artists and works from a range of popular music genres, discuss some musical aspects of those works, and relate them to the broader contexts of New Zealand culture and society.
- Discuss notions of national culture and identity in New Zealand music, referring to specific examples where appropriate.
- Have an understanding of New Zealand popular music history, and contextualise it in New Zealand’s social and political history since World War II.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: People and Place
Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Music

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knoweldge through assessed tasks of the different genres that emerged in the period c.1947–present, and to understand the relevant socio-cultural contexts as studied in lectures. (Capability 1.1 and 1.2)
  2. Describe different musical conventions, meanings, and performance contexts, and their importance to the development of popular music in Aotearoa New Zealand. (Capability 3.2)
  3. Present informed critical viewpoints and interpretations of the music studied through research oriented tasks. (Capability 4.1)
  4. Conduct research tasks, finding and utilising relevant resources and source material. (Capability 5.1 and 6.1)
  5. Take responsibity for personal and professional development and independent study, and demonstrate integrity in work presented. (Capability 8.1)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Lectures 1-3 quiz 5% Individual Test
Listening Tests (2) 20% Individual Test
Song profile essay 10% Individual Coursework
Playlist 5% Individual Coursework
Aotearoa Music Timeline 20% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 40% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Lectures 1-3 quiz
Listening Tests (2)
Song profile essay
Aotearoa Music Timeline
Final Exam
Assignments are to be submitted, according to submission type specified on CANVAS, by the due date. In the event of illness or other circumstances that prevent completing an assignment, please contact the course coordinator with evidence as appropriate before the due date. Late assignments that do not have an approved extension will be penalized 10% for each day or part thereof. No assignment will be accepted after that assignment has been returned to students.

A pass in this paper is 50% of the total marks from course work and the final exam.

Teaching & Learning Methods

The course is loosely chronological, so students may see a progression of ideas by artists and in genres (styles) across the decades from the 1950s to the present day.

The music and artists will be placed within the context of their time during the 17 x two-hour lectures so there will be links made to New Zealand life, politics, art and culture at that time. The course does not require any prior musical knowledge but will expect students to listen and read beyond what is said in class.

There are no tutorials for this course.

The lectures will be recorded and readily available to students but it is advisable that students attend class as other information will not be captured by the recording.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 150 hours in lectures, reading, and work on assessment tasks. Students are expected to attend all lectures, to complete weekly reading and listening tasks, in addition to the various assessment tasks.

The 150 hours expected for this course is made up of lecture time (34 hours), five hours revision for each lecture (84 hours), assignment research and writing, listening test revision (14 hours) and study/revision for the final exam (18 hours)

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience or Online

This course is offered in two delivery modes:

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled lectures to complete components of the course.

Lectures will be available as recordings. 

Attendance on campus is not required for the exam.

The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.


Attendance is expected at scheduled lectures to complete components of the course.

Lectures will be available as recordings. 

Attendance on campus is not required for the exam.

Where possible, study material will be released progressively throughout the course.

This course runs to the University semester timetable and all the associated completion dates and deadlines will apply.

The lecturers will be available for one-to-one discussion with any student who requires that (see below). The lecturer also arrives early and stays after lectures if any student has just a quick query. 

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

All course readings are available via Reading Lists on Canvas.
There is no set textbook for this course. The lecturer will provide details of how to access listening material.
The following books provide useful supplementary reading. Most are available in the University of Auckland main library or the Auckland Central Library.

Bannister, M. Positively George Street: Sneaky Feelings and the Dunedin Sound. Auckland, 1999
Bollinger, N. 100 Essential New Zealand Albums. Awa Press, 2009
Bourke, C. Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918-64. Wellington, 2010
Columbus, R. Ray Columbus, The Modfather (Penguin, 2011)
Dix, J. Stranded in Paradise: New Zealand Rock 'n ’Roll Wellington l988, rev. 2005
Eggleton, D. Ready to Fly. Nelson, 2003
Grigg, S. How Bizarre, Pauly Fuemana and the Song That Stormed the World (Awa, 2015)
Keam, G and Mitchell T: Home Land and Sea; Situating music in Aotearoa New Zealand (Pearson, 2001)
Larsen, M. See Me Go, Conversations (Penguin, 2003)
McArtney, D. Gutter Black, A Memoir (Harper Collins, 2014)
Peters, M and George J: Showband; Mahora and the Maori Volcanics (Huia, 2005)
Russell, B (editor): Erewhon Calling, Experimental Sound in New Zealand (Audio Foundation, 2012)
Shepherd, R: In Love With These Times; My Life with Flying Nun Records (Harper Collins, 2016)
Shute, G: NZ Rock 1987-2007 (Random House, 2008)
Smithies, G. Soundtrack; 118 Great New Zealand Albums (Craig Potton, 2007)
Spittle, G. Counting the Beat: A History of New Zealand Song. Wellington, l997.
Staff, B and Ashley, S: For the Record; A History of the Recording Industry in New Zealand (Bateman, 2002)

Students are also referred to the following websites for historical information and contemporary interviews

All the lectures have musical and video examples which students should be thoroughly familiar with. During the course reference will be made to other musical examples for students to explore. Most of the artists and music are on free streaming services such as Spotify, and the University of Auckland library also has a useful CD and DVD collection, as does Central Library in Auckland.

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.


Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 18/10/2023 12:30 p.m.