They never scored a hit single and the only album they released was a commercial flop, but Christchurch-based band Butler found a warm place in the hearts of many NZ rock fans in the early and mid-1970s.

Their fusion of psychedelia, progressive and blues-rock shone in a live setting, and Butler became a highly popular band on the national campus circuit. One of the few all-Māori bands of that era, the story of their formation is one of the most fascinating in NZ rock.

Steve Apirana
Photo credit: Steve Apirana collection
Matthew "Heidi" Warren
Photo credit: Steve Apirana collection
Robert "Angel" Adams
Photo credit: Steve Apirana collection
Left to right: Steve, Hori, Heidi, Angel
Photo credit: Steve Apirana collection
Butler, Christchurch Old University, 1971. Left to right: Angel (Robert Adams), Steve (Apirana), Heidi (Matthew Warren). Hori Sinnott is hidden behind Steve on the drums.
Photo credit: Photo by Kevin Hill
Hori Sinnott
Photo credit: Steve Apirana collection

The same drop-in centre scene that spawned Butler also featured some other musical talents. "There were plenty of potential musicians in our crowd," says Steve Apirana. "Other bands started from that scene. One featured Tama Renata [later of Herbs] who wrote the instrumental theme for Once Were Warriors and the father of Scribe was in one too."

One post-Butler musical collaboration in the 1980s saw Steve and Heidi co-write the theme song to My Friends Are Dying, a film by controversial New Zealand-born evangelist Ray Comfort.


Steve Apirana - guitar, vocals

Heidi Warren - guitar, vocals

Angel Adams - bass

Hori Sinnott - drums

A poster from Butler's first gig, Papanui RSA Hall, 6 November 1970. Jollity Farm promotions was Dave Mitchell, Steve Bartlett, David Greatorex, Graham Forsyth and Keith Diedrichs. - Dave Mitchell Collection


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