Originally established as MCA New Zealand in 1996, the label became Universal Music New Zealand in 1998. Universal’s acquisition of PolyGram in 1999 and EMI Records in 2013 saw the greatest collection of New Zealand music and artists come together under one record label umbrella.
PolyGram, a Philips owned company, had operated in New Zealand under various names since the mid-1940s and their purchase of Pye Records in the 60’s brought great New Zealand labels like TANZA, Family, Prestige and Allied International into the company.
EMI Records were once known as HMV. HMV was established in Wellington in 1926 and became by far the largest and most active record label in New Zealand from the mid-1940s to the early seventies. Their catalogue of New Zealand artists and recordings was immense.
The team here at Universal Music New Zealand are incredibly proud of our history and we know we are the guardians of a vitally important piece of New Zealand culture. It is critical to us that this incredible collection of New Zealand’s greatest music is preserved so that it can be heard by today’s generations and for generations to come.
To make sure that happened, shortly after the acquisition of EMI Records, Universal Music New Zealand embarked on an ambitious and expansive reissue programme. The idea was simple – to digitally reissue as much of the New Zealand catalogue the company owned, remastering where possible from the original master tapes. If the tapes were missing then high quality transfers were made from vinyl LPs and singles.
Today with the support from the artists themselves, hundreds of albums and thousands of tracks have now been made available of all the major digital platforms around the world including Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes and YouTube Music. To give you a flavour of the remarkable story behind the Universal Music New Zealand catalogue, check out these playlist selections.
Our 80s and 90s Vault sees Kiwi music going truly global. Worldwide hits from Crowded House and OMC, Australasian classics from Sharon O’Neill, The Tigers and Dragon; and massive local hits from The Exponents, Dave McArtney and The Mutton Birds.