Herbs Profile

Peter McLennan
22 May 2013

“We were the voice for a lot of people that just weren‘t getting heard.” – Dilworth Karaka

In the mid 1970s the founding members of Herbs – Toni Fonoti, Spencer Fusimalohi and Fred Faleauto – were playing in a band called Backyard. They asked Dilworth Karaka to join, and considered renaming themselves Pacific Herbs, before settling on Herbs. Other early members of the band included Dave Pou, Phil Toms and John Berkley, who designed the band’s distinctive logo.

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Dilworth Karaka and Willie Hona with Herbs
Dilworth Karaka with Joe Walsh, Mascot Studios, April 1989
Photo credit: Photo by Graham Hooper
Herbs circa 1987. Clockwise from top left: Thom Nepia, Charlie Tumahai, Fred Faleauto, Willie Hona, Dilworth Karaka, Maurice Watene.
Photo credit: Simon Grigg collection
Willie Hona, 1985
Photo credit: Photo by Kevin Hill
Rip It Up, November 1984
Jack Allen around 1983
Herbs and Dave Dobbyn during the Slice Of Heaven video shoot
E Papa (live in Ruatoria 1987)
Charlie Tumahai and Joe Walsh, Mascot Studios, April 1989
Photo credit: Photo by Graham Hooper
Dragons And Demons
Herbs in Mascot Studios, circa 1980/81. Left to right: Dilworth Karaka, Spencer Fusimalohi, Fred Faleauto, Phil Toms, Toni Fonoti.
From left: Tama Lundon, unidentified friend, Tuhi Timoti, Dilworth Karaka, backstage at Coolangatta, Australia.
Photo credit: Sarah Richards/Tuhi Timoti collection
Herbs reunited at the 1999 APRA Silver Scrolls
Rip It Up, July 1987
Photo credit: Photo by Jocelyn Carlin. Simon Grigg collection.
Willie Hona with Herbs at the Greenpeace Concert, Mt. Smart Stadium, 5 April 1986
Herbs with Tim Finn, 1988
Herbs in 1990 - clockwise from bottom left: Gordon Joll. Thom Nepia, Dilworth Karaka, Charlie Tumahai, Tama Lundun, Morrie Watene
The Xmas card sleeve for the 'Jah's Son' single, December1982
Photo credit: Rone Kane Collection
WEA boss Tim Murdoch presents Herbs with platinum albums. Back, left to right: Murdoch, Dilworth Karaka, Tama Lundon, Fred Faleauto, Maurice Watene. Front: Willie Hona, Thom Nepia.
Photo credit: Simon Grigg collection
Sensitive to a Smile
 Herbs welcomed at Mangahanea Marae, Ruatoria in 1987 for the launch of Sensitive To A Smile
Photo credit: Photo by Murray Cammick
Dilworth Karaka
Herbs play Princes Wharf, October 1991
1982 Rip It Up ad
Herbs' 1983 album Light of the Pacific. Barry Linton's cover art incorporated many of his perennial themes such as Pacific exploration and urban Polynesia.
Herbs 1993 - clockwise from top left: Tama Renata, Kristen Hapi, Morrie Watene, Dilworth Karaka, Juanito Muzzio, Charlie Tumahai, Tama Lundon.
Herbs circa 1987. Left to right: Dilworth Karaka, Charlie Tumahai, Thom Nepia, Willie Hona, Fred Faleauto, Maurice Watene.
Photo credit: Simon Grigg collection
French Letter '95
Charlie Tumahai and Dilworth Karaka
NZ Music Hall of Fame 2012
Herbs, Ardijah, Aotearoa and Dread, Beat & Blood. Taken in Whangarei at the last gig of a national tour with all four bands on 29 July 1986. The promoter was Hugh Lynn.
Photo credit: Simon Lynch collection
Herbs live in 1985: You Were Always On My Mind, Repatriation and We're Crazy Man
Charlie Tumahai, Greenpeace Concert, Mt. Smart, 5 April 1986
Rip It Up, March 1983 with dancers
Charlie Tumahai and Willie Hona with Herbs in Palmerston North, 1987
Photo credit: Photo by Murray Cammick
Herbs In Ruatoria documentary - The Power of Music (Te Kaha o Te Waiata)
Whats' Be Happen? the landmark 1981 mini-LP from Herbs, issued just prior to that year's Springbok Tour. The sleeve featured an image of the police action to clear Bastion Point in May, 1978.
A late 1980s Herbs poster
Herbs and Che Fu sing Slice Of Heaven at the 2001 Silver Scrolls
Herbs: Songs of Freedom (trailer, 2019)
Dilworth Karaka and Fred Faleauto of Herbs backstage in Aotea Square before the riots, 1984
Photo credit: Photo by Bryan Staff
Long Ago
Nuclear Waste

Dilworth Karaka

Toni Fonoti

Phil Toms

Spencer Fusimalohi

John Berkley

Fred Faleauto

Charlie Tumahai

Maurice Watene

Tama Lundon

Willie Hona

Jack Allen

Carl Perkins

Thom Nepia

Tama Renata

Gordon Joll

Grant Pukeroa

Kristen Hapi

Juanito Muzzio


On December 7, 1984, Herbs played the opening set in a free concert in Aotea Square that deteriorated into the Queen Street Riot. The Thank God It’s Over concert marked the end of the school year and also featured the Mockers and headliners DD Smash on the bill. Police shut the concert down during DD Smash’s set and thousands of concert-goers poured into Queen Street, smashing property and looting, causing an eventual $6 million worth of damage.

Herbs were inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2012. The Hall of Fame is an initiative of Recorded Music NZ and the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), whose support of AudioCulture enables the site to stream music content.