New Zealand, January 1973


Ngaruawahia, NZ (19km N/W of Hamilton)

Robert Raymond, Barry Coburn

(partial listing)
Corben Simpson (NZ) - opening act
Black Sabbath (UK)
Fairport Convention (UK)
Blerta (NZ)
Dragon (NZ)
La De Das
Mammal (NZ)
Max Merritt & The Meteors
Split Ends (NZ)
Bulldogs Allstar Goodtime Band (NZ)
Powerhouse (NZ)
Butler (NZ)
Ticket (NZ)


The North Island town of Ngaruawahia is situated 19 kilometres north-west of Hamilton, on the Waikato River. It is the Maori capital of New Zealand, and home of the Maori Queen. It was chosen as the location for New Zealand's first major outdoor rock festival in January 1973

Organised by Aussie expat Robert Raymond and Kiwi promoter Barry Coburn, its 54-act bill included many of New Zealand's top acts including expatriate heroes The La De Das (who reportedly stole the show) and Max Merrit & The Meteors. Co-headliners were UK bands Black Sabbath and Fairport Convention.

The festival was also notable as the very first gig for Dragon (sans Marc Hunter), one of the first major concert appearances by Split Enz.

"Todd (Hunter) ... gathered some friends and fellow performers for an appearance at the Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival. They wrote original songs for their set list, and someone pulled the name "Dragon" out of an I Ching book. Their performance at the Ngaruawahia Music Festival led to a better gig, a few weeks performing at the Occidental Hotel in Auckland."

"Corben performed at the 1973 Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival. He was the opening act and grabbed the headlines with a naked romp."

Bruce Sergent's site also notes this information concerning leading NZ band Ticket. Ticket -- who played their alst gig at the festival -- had close links to the festival's promoters, Robert Raymond and Barry Coburn. Coburn also ran the Down Under record label.

Coburn and Raymond were in the process of organising a Woodstock style festival at Ngaruawahia for early 1973. Ticket would be given a key slot on the bill and, following the festival, would support headliners Black Sabbath on their Australian tour. This, they believed, would really break the group across the Tasman. That done, they would then head to the US in mid-year.

Ticket returned to New Zealand in November 1972 and opened the new Auckland venue, Levi's Saloon. Fans didn't seem to notice the growing animosity in the band, but it came to a head at the Ngaruawahia Festival. The crowd loved Ticket's performance, but Hansen [guitarist Eddie Hansen] was disgusted. It was their last gig.


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John Dix
Stranded In Paradise
(Paradise Publications 1988 )

Bruce Sergent
New Zealand Music

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