Wellington Scoop

Listeners celebrate RNZ Concert’s birthday, and its survival

Photos by Roy Murphy

by Roy Murphy
It was like a picnic in the park. Up to a thousand supporters of Radio New Zealand’s Concert Programme flocked to Parliament grounds in Wellington today to celebrate its 87th birthday. It was a special occasion because, following a huge outcry, RNZ has reversed its decision to relegate the Concert programme to an AM automated disco show.

Under sunny skies there were performances from several music groups, MCed by the Topp Twins with their own irreverent presentation and musical talent. They said: “We are here because we believe that the Concert Programme should last all our lives and the lives of our grandchildren.” But they noted that final decisions had not yet been made. They declared, “We want to have certainty, not hope.”


The Topp Twins then incited the crowd to chant: “F++k Off Mike Hosking. We have the power!” The crowd leapt to its feet, fists in the air, and chanted with them. An elderly lady beside me said, “That’s the first time I’ve used that word.”


The conductor of the Orpheus Choir, Brent Stewart, introduced the song “O Fortuna” from “Carmina Burana”. He said the lyrics lamented the caprice of fortune, which were appropriate in light of RNZ’s “flippant and ignorant decision”. A massive Choir then gave a stirring and emotional performance which mirrored the emotions stirred by the Concert programme decision.

Afterwards, fellow MC actor Karen O’Leary said: “I think the word for that would be Wow!”

Grant Robertson, in his role of Associate Minister or Arts, Culture and Heritage, tried to give some certainty to the crowd. “The only proposals the Cabinet was interested in were ones that built on the strength of the Concert Programme.” He deplored the attempt to pit generation against generation, and said all radio listeners deserved a commercial-free option.

The crowd was treated to performances from a string quartet, a trombone quartet, another choir, a jazz quintet and a drum concerto featuring five drummers.

After cutting a cake to celebrate RNZ’s Concert’s 87th birthday, five more drummers joined in to make up a tentet for a thunderous drumming finale.

This article has been amended since it was first published to correct the name of the person told to “f++k off” by the Tpp Twins.


  1. Neil Douglas, 25. February 2020, 8:17

    A decent protest but I was aghast at the call for us to shout the ‘f’ word which was decidedly inappropriate especially given the number of young people in the crowd. (We didn’t join in).

    Having driven in with my two Labradors Henry and Harriet from the Wairarapa I was expecting more classical classics. I would have liked to have heard excerpts from Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’; Copeland’s ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’; Strauss’s ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’, Tchaikovsky’s 1812; Rossini’s ‘William Tell overture’.

    That said, sitting on the lawn and listening to Carmina Burana made my 200km round trip worth it.

  2. Daryl Cockburn, 25. February 2020, 11:08

    Well done to us who can be bothered

  3. BHS, 25. February 2020, 12:34

    It was good to be at the protest and show my support for the Concert Program. And, what a lovely lot we were with not a policeman insight. Please keep our Concert FM exactly as it is with great presenters and great music provided on a shoestring budget.