Upper Hutt Posse

  • When: 8th Mar 2:30pm
  • Where: South Stage
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For over thirty years Upper Hutt Posse have been creating powerful and inspirational music to challenge the status quo giving voice to progressive radicalism and the fight for social justice in Aotearoa and around the world.
Bursting onto the national scene in 1988 with their debut single ‘E Tū’. The first original Hiphop track to be recorded and released in Aotearoa and a commanding statement striking out against racism and injustice—it’s revolutionary and bold in its message paying homage to Māori warrior chiefs who fought against European colonialism. Setting the tone for many UHP songs to come.

Forming as a four-piece reggae group in 1985, then adding three more vocalists, drum machines, and a turntable into the mix this foundation lineup combined singing, rapping and reggae toasting over live and programmed instrumentation, making them unlike any other group, anywhere.

After releasing their debut album Against The Flow in 1989, UHP performed off-shore, firstly in Sydney, then Detroit as guests of the Nation of Islam, before returning home to open for Public Enemy in 1990. They faced challenges from mainstream media, but remained committed to musical activism and raising awareness of struggles at home and abroad through their music.

Retooled as a live band in 1994 with a new line up supporting D Word and MC WIya they released, Movement In Demand (1995), through their own label Kia Kaha Productions, with strong political messages and educational content about past Māori leaders.

In 1998 the music-video for Tangata Whenua signalled increased usage of te reo Māori. Albums Mā Te Wā (2000), Legacy (2005), and Tohe (2010) all heavily feature Te Reo Māori content, and the remix album project Te Reo Māori Remixes (2002) reconstructs 10 Upper Hutt Posse songs and won the ‘Best Mana Māori Album’ award at the 2003 NZ Music Awards.
In 2011 Upper Hutt Posse released their 7th album Declaration of Resistance, once again pushing their sound to evolve, and with D Word becoming Te Kupu, solidifying their legacy as one of the country’s most thought-provoking and enduring groups.

In 2016 UHP received the ‘Taite Music Prize 2016 Independent Music NZ Classic Record’ for E Tu.
In 2018 they were inducted into Te Whare Taonga Puoro o Aotearoa/The NZ Music Hall of Fame, and were the recipients of the Legacy Award.