Not given lightly

Chris Knox, nationalism, whiteness and punk/indie discourse in Aoteraroa/New Zealand


  • Matthew Bannister Wintec (Waikato Institute of Technology)



New Zealand music, punk, alternative music, nationalism, masculinity


This article examines punk/indie scenes in 1970s–80s Aotearoa/New Zealand (NZ) in terms of dominant punk discourses of youth ‘resistance’, independence from mainstream values and commercial institutions, and questioning musical meaning. In line with Frith, it aims to show how these discourses were complicated if not contradicted in practice, partly due to their reembedding in settler colonies like NZ, where punk/indie became associated with traditional settler values of white masculinity in ‘pure’ natural settings, on the one hand, while also echoing high modernist discourses authenticating local culture as independent of foreign influence, again drawing on gendered discourse. Chris Knox and the Dunedin Sound are the main examples discussed. The rise of creative industries discourses in the early 2000s served to highlight competing definitions of local music in relation to national identity, as tensions arose between punk/indie’s self-identification with Pakeha masculine ‘authenticity’, and emergent constructions of New Zealand music as popular, commercial and also more gender and ethnically diverse.

Author Biography

  • Matthew Bannister, Wintec (Waikato Institute of Technology)

    Dr Matthew Bannister is an academic and musician, working at WINTEC (Waikato Institute of Technology) and living in Hamilton/Kirikiriroa, New Zealand/Aotearoa. He is presently writing a book on NZ filmmaker Taika Waititi.


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How to Cite

Bannister, M. (2020). Not given lightly: Chris Knox, nationalism, whiteness and punk/indie discourse in Aoteraroa/New Zealand. Perfect Beat, 20(1), 40-67.