Punk

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A group of punks in Condemned Sector’s practice room at Clyde Quay School, 1980 (Caroline Forsyth (left), Michael Hall (far right), Lars (second from right)). (From the ‘Up The Punks’ exhibition in Wellington).

The punk scene in Wellington was different from that in Auckland where bands like the Suburban Reptiles and Proud Scum played ’77 Pistol-styled punk’. The Wellington scene developed styles of music that were more influenced by post-punk bands like Gang of Four, Killing Joke, The Cure and Joy Division.

By 1979 bands like Shoes this High, Naked Spots Dance, Wallsockets, Life in the Fridge Exists and Ambitious Vegetables were playing regular concerts around Wellington at venues like Billy the Club, Thistle Hall and The Last Resort.

A year later the likes of Domestic Blitz, Condemned Sector and Neoteric Tribesmen were also playing gigs and gaining a following. There was also a number of international bands that toured New Zealand at this time – The Cure, The Ramones, Talking Heads.

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Nigel Elder and Jenny White from Condemned Sector, 1980.

The punk style of clothing in Wellington mainly consisted of second hand clothing – suit jackets (usually with button badges or some kind of painted decoration) – jeans and sandshoes. The hair was normally short and spikey and dyed various colours. Some punks also cut lines and patterns in their hair.

I had an old suit jacket which I covered in badges of UK punk bands or my own band. I also used to wear an arm with ‘SLF’ on it. I told the duty-head of my school that it should for ‘Student Liberation Front’ but it actually stood for ‘Stiff Little Fingers’. I used to cut my own using a razor and dyed it with what I could find – food colouring, shoe dye etc. You could only buy hair dye in either black, brown or red. At one point I grew two devil horns of hair and used soap to spikey them up.

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Richard Watts of Condemned Sector. (From the ‘Up The Punks’ exhibition in Wellington).

By the beginning of 1981 the punk scene had gained a violent edge. A lot of punks had started wearing boots and calling themselves bootboys. Some of the main punk venues like Billy the Club and the Last Resort had closed down in part because of the violence.

A year later the new punk ‘Oi’ scene truly got started in Wellington with bands like Flesh D-Vice who had both a punk and bootboy/skinhead following. In 1983 the band organised New Zealands first punk festival, Golden Showers, at the Newtown Community Hall. Punk bands from around Wellington and from other areas of New Zealnd played.