Living the Dream: Karyn Hay on New Zealand Music: Lilburn Lecture 2020

29 October 2020: Living the Dream: Karyn Hay on New Zealand Music: Lilburn Lecture 2020

The reality of life in New Zealand for musicians and songwriters is highlighted at the National Library next week.

Author and broadcaster Karyn Hay, ONZM will give the annual Lilburn Lecture for 2020 at the National Library of New Zealand on Monday 2 November.

Reflecting on the recent acquisition of Flying Nun Records collection into the Archive of New Zealand Music at the Alexander Turnbull Library, Hay will focus on the challenges for an entire generation of New Zealand musicians and songwriters. The lecture will include performances by acclaimed musicians Don McGlashan and Shayne P. Carter.

Karyn Hay is a New Zealand author, broadcaster and reputedly the country’s first female Rock DJ. Receiving national fame as the presenter of 1980s music TV show Radio with Pictures, she established an extensive career in television and radio. Hay’s debut novel Emerald Budgies won Best First Book Awards in the New Zealand Book Awards, 2001. She has since published two more novels and currently works as a presenter on Radio New Zealand.

“I hope to give some insight into an area not many of us get to see, and that’s backstage. I mean that in a figurative sense, to try and explore the mind of the artist. If you decide to pursue a career in music where does that take you? It’s also a celebration of the National Library expanding its archive of New Zealand rock and pop music, so it’s an honour to be asked to do it.” says Hay.

The Lilburn Lecture is an annual collaboration that started in 2013 between the Lilburn Trust, established by composer Douglas Lilburn, and the Alexander Turnbull Library. The lectures provide a platform for speakers to present new ideas about and perspectives on New Zealand music.

“We are delighted to host Karyn Hay’s Lilburn Lecture in the centenary year of the Turnbull Library opening” says Dr Michael Brown, Curator of Music at the Alexander Turnbull Library. “The Lecture theme of how musicians sustain their careers is highly topical given recent events. It also resonates with the Library’s ongoing work to preserve New Zealand music heritage.”



Don McGlashan is one of New Zealand’s best known and highly regarded songwriters. Having found fame with the bands Blam Blam Blam, The Front Lawn and The Mutton Birds, Don embarked on a solo career in 2003. He was made an Arts Foundation laureate in 2001.

Shayne P. Carter is well-known as leader of the rock groups Straitjacket Fits and Dimmer. His autobiography Dead People I Have Known was published in 2019, going on to win two awards at the 2020 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. He was recently made an Arts Foundation laureate.

The Lilburn Trust: The late composer Douglas Lilburn helped establish the Archive of New Zealand Music, which is part of the Library’s collections, in 1974. He donated his own collection of scores, papers and recordings, and served as an honorary curator. Lilburn also established the Lilburn Trust in 1984, which is administered by Alexander Turnbull Library. The Lilburn Trust supports many New Zealand music projects including the annual Lilburn Lecture. The Lecture has been held since 2013: previous speakers have been Eve de Castro-Robinson, Charles Royal, Jenny McLeod, Chris Bourke, William Dart, and Philip Norman, Gillian Whitehead.

Douglas Lilburn Trust
Archive of New Zealand Music

Event details

Lilburn Lecture 2020 Karyn Hay — New Zealand Music: Living the Dream

When — Monday 2 November 6-7.30pm

Where — National Library Auditorium (lower ground floor), Aitken Street entrance, National Library of New Zealand, Wellington

RSVP — This is a free event but space is limited, please book by email:

National Library website

Note to editors

Alexander Turnbull Library is part of the National Library of New Zealand. New Zealand's national documentary heritage collections, including both published and unpublished items, are held in the Alexander Turnbull Library.

An image of Karyn Hay is attached. Image supplied by Karyn Hay.

For further information, please contact or call +64 27 535 8639

Portrait of blonde woman wearing a black top.
Karyn Hay, ONZM. Image supplied by Karyn Hay.