Kahu Pineaha Profile

Chris Bourke
Published: 3 Jan 2014
Updated: 11 May 2021

Versatility was Kahu Pineaha’s calling card. In the late 1950s, when Auckland’s cabaret scene began to hum, he was constantly in demand for solo shows, which soon revealed him to be as multi-talented as Sammy Davis Jr.

A comedian as well as an accomplished singer and instrumentalist, in 1960 Pineaha recorded his only album – I Hear Music – then left for Las Vegas, by way of Australia.

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The 1960 album I Hear Music, Kahu's only long player.
Cyril Paea, Kahu Pineaha and John Raumati
Photo credit: Chris Bourke collection
Kahu Pineaha - Did You Hear About Jerry (Top Rank, 1960)
Millie Bradfield with cabaret artist Kahu Pineaha
Kahu Pineaha - Did You Hear About Jerry
Kahu Pineaha - I Hear Music - Side 2 (Top Rank, 1960)
Back cover, Kahu Pineaha – I Hear Music (Top Rank)
Kahu Pineaha - Kiss of Fire (Top Rank, 1960)
Kahu Pineaha - I Hear Music - Side 1 (Top Rank, 1960)
Kahu Pineaha.
Kahu Pineaha's debut EP for Viking in 1959. He would follow it with another for the label before signing to Phil Warren's Prestige Records. Thereafter all releases would be on Prestige or Top Rank (Warren was a partner in that label).
Kahu Pineaha and Eva Parata
Photo credit: Chris Bourke collection
Kahu in Joy, August 3, 1959
Photo credit: Chris Bourke collection
A young Tommy Adderley at the Pines, Wellington (far left), with cabaret performer Kahu Pineaha (in goatee), and the Garth Young Trio: Young in glasses, Bobby Little beside Pineaha, and Hymie Levin. At the front left is a Canadian bass player, Jimmie Wilson "who played there for some time when Slim was sacked by Pat McCashin," recalls Young. 
Clive Trio with Kahu Pineaha - I Don't Know Why (Tanza, 1952)
Kahu with Dave Brubeck
Photo credit: Chris Bourke collection
The Clive Trio - I Don't Know Why (Tanza, 1952)
In Gisborne as part of a 1959 Phil Warrren touring group: Kahu Pineaha, Simone, and Vince Callaher
Photo credit: Gisborne Photo News
While Merv Thomas's Dixielanders take a break, they stay on stage while Kahu Pineaha and his band perform at the Crystal Palace, Mt Eden,1959.
Photo credit: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections
During the 1980s strippers made way for jazz at this King's Cross, Sydney, venue. The Paradise Jazz Cellar offered music six nights a week, for no cover charge. Among the attractions was Kahu Pineaha, playing late night piano, Mondays to Saturdays. 
Kahu Pineaha - Stormy Weather (Tanza, 1952)
Kahu Pineaha - You've Got Me Dizzy (Prestige)
Kahu Pineaha, 1950s. From the Church of the Latter Day Saints' honour roll of its missionaries.



Top Rank

Playdate, April 1961: Kahu Pineaha has just left Auckland to play some shows in Sydney. He only has a "leave of absence" and it is rumoured that a theatrical organisation is trying to interest him in a New Zealand tour before he leaves for the US and UK.

The ‘Kiss of Fire’ / ‘Did You Hear About Jerry?’ single was released all over the world, with copies turning up in Canada and various European countries.

In November 1959, Cashbox magazine reported "Kahu Pineaha, one of New Zealand’s leading club acts who sings and plays piano, bass, guitar and bongos, has received several offers to work in Hawaii and has also been approached to entertain on Matson Line vessels."

In July 1961 Billboard's NZ correspondent Fred Gebbie reported that Phil Warren would accompany Kahu Pineaha to Australia to fulfill contractual obligations, "then send him on to the US" where his album I Hear Music was out on Top Rank.