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NZ Music Month

NZ music month logo.

Each May we celebrate NZ Music Month. The purpose of NZ Music Month is to promote music from New Zealand and the people who make it. 

This resource page is packed with ideas on how you can celebrate this national event with your students and communities. 

About NZ Music Month 

Piano and music.

NZ Music Month is a promotion run by the NZ Music Commission in association with other organisations including NZ On Air, Recorded Music New Zealand, APRA, The Music Managers Forum, and Independent Music NZ. 

New Zealand Music Month has been developed to support the New Zealand music industry. During the month of May we celebrate New Zealand music on our screens and radios, and at our venues, libraries, schools, and parks.

NZ Music Month provides the perfect opportunity to explore New Zealand music in your classrooms, and to highlight and grow the musical knowledge and abilities of your students. 

Curriculum connections 

NZC Curriculum icon.

By focusing on NZ Music Month in your local curriculum you can explore the values of diversity, and community and participation with your students. NZ Music Month provides a useful context for students to develop understandings in the sound arts and social sciences

Music – Sound arts 

  • The musical heritages of New Zealand’s diverse cultures can be investigated, including traditional and contemporary Māori musical arts. 
  • Students can develop literacies in music as they listen and respond to a range of New Zealand music and create their own compositions. 

Social sciences

  • The impact of culture and heritage on identity can be explored by studying what contribution home-grown music has made to New Zealand's culture and heritage. (Identity, culture, and organisation)
  • Students can investigate the evolution of music and its significance to New Zealand and New Zealanders. (Continuity and change)
  • Students can consider why the retention of musical traditions and ideas is important for people moving from one country to another and examine the influence of overseas music on our culture and society. (Place and environment) 
  • The issue of quotas and selling New Zealand music can be explored. (The economic world)

How can you get involved? 

These ideas can be used for both face to face and distance learning:

Kapa haka group.

Listen to New Zealand music
Listen to a different New Zealand song each day. Research the origins and traditions of each song. Investigate which song is the most popular in the class. To select music you can use this list of top New Zealand songs, this NZ On Screen collection, or this song of the day 2017 calendar. For deeper exploration, The National Library of New Zealand has created a topic explorer set on the culture, history, and uses of music of New Zealand. 

Explore New Zealand music stories
Use this NZ History resource to investigate 31 New Zealand music stories. Each story has a link to a page with further information. 

Investigate Māori music and performance
Use this topic explorer set compiled by the National Library of New Zealand to explore the culture, history, and uses of Māori musical instruments along with waiata, famous singers, music awards, styles and contribution of Māori, waiata ā ringa, and kapa haka.

Investigate Māori musical instruments
Investigate and listen to Māori musical instruments. What are they made from? How are they played? Why are they played? Ask in your local community to see if anybody has taonga puoro / Māori musical instruments that they can share and play. The voices of Tāwhirimatea unit plan has further ideas on exploring the use of traditional Māori instruments.

Sing waiata
Sing waiata with your class. Perhaps all classes in the school could learn new waiata to sing together at your next school or virtual hui.  

Interview a musician or songwriter
Interview a local musician, composer, or songwriter — learn from the artist how they create music and find out what inspires them. 

Home learning choice board
Use the home learning choice board developed by MENZA for music enrichment activities that can be enjoyed at home. 

Instructional series

Another great way to get your students involved in NZ Music Month is to incorporate it into your reading and writing programme. Tāhūrangi - Literacy (inc. Instructional Series) offers a range of texts about music and instruments. Here are our top picks for you: 

Starting with Strings, School Journal Level 2, August 2015
This text is about Sistema Aotearoa, a children’s orchestra based in Otara. The article explains how children join the orchestra, what’s involved in learning to play an instrument, and what it means to be part of the orchestra. 

The Ukelele Maker, Junior Journal 58, Level 2, 2019 
Dave Gilberd is a luthier, a maker of stringed instruments. This report describes how Dave makes a ukulele. A note at the end of the report provides additional information about how the ukulele got its name. 

The Kiwileles, Junior Journal 58, Level 2, 2019 
This report provides information about the Kiwileles, a ukulele orchestra made up of New Zealand school students. It focuses on the experiences of students at East Tamaki School and includes a description of some of the steps involved in learning to play a ukulele.

South Pacific Beats, Connected 2018, Level 3 – Cracking the Code 
Wellington designer Rachael Hall has developed a modern version of the traditional Tongan lali. Called Patō, Rachael’s drum keeps the traditional sound of a lali but incorporates digital capabilities.

Competitions and resources

Smokefree Rockquest

Smokefree Rockquest is New Zealand’s youth event for original, live music. It provides young musicians the opportunity to perform live music, support their peers, and become involved in the New Zealand music community. 

Smokefree Tangata Beats
Smokefree Tangata Beats is a live, original music, nationwide, youth event that recognises and reflects the unique cultural identity of Aotearoa New Zealand and the South Pacific.

Play It Strange
Play It Strange runs songwriting competitions with lyric, Māori language, and peace song awards. At least 40 finalists are recorded each year in professional recording studios. 

NZ Music Month website
Find news, resources, stories, and gigs to support NZ Music Month. 

NZ Music Month on NZ History 
Use this resource to find out about the history of New Zealand Music Month. Explore the images and videos in the media gallery with your students. 

The archive of Māori & Pacific music
The archive of Māori and Pacific music features an ethnographic sound collection relating to the Pacific.  

New Zealand folk songs
Find a range of New Zealand folk songs to enjoy with your students and community. 

Ukes in schools
Ukes in schools helps students get involved in music by supplying a set of ukuleles and supporting a teacher through training and workshops. When you register your students become part of the Kiwleles, New Zealand's massed ukulele orchestra. 

Musicnet is an email mailing list open to all interested educators. Musicnet is a place to share ideas, request help and resources, and establish professional relationships.

Kiwi Kidsongs
Kiwi Kidsongs are catchy children’s songs, composed and performed by New Zealanders writers and artists. Kiwi Kidsongs are available on Vimeo

Updated on: 20 Feb 2020