Thursday, January 30, 2014

Brain Development - The importance of the First 3 Years - Part One

Part One:

In the last few days I have participated in a workshop on Brain Development and the Implications for Education.   

Presented by a talented good friend of mine, it is a presentation I have heard a few times over the last 5 or so years.  Each time I hear it – particularly the basic information on the importance of what happens in the early years (when a young person is between the ages of 0 and 3 years old), it strikes me anew that not only is this information critical – it is essential information that every person needs to know.  It is as important as knowing which side of the road to drive on, that we don’t put our hands into an open flame, and that we don’t shake a baby or leave it to fend for itself when it is born. 

The brain is an extremely complex wee beastie.   How it operates and the impact certain factors have on its development, has huge ramifications for parents, educators and policy makers. 

So – what were the main take out points from our workshop, that you might find of interest and may help shape what you do, think and implement – especially so if you are a parent, or contemplating parenthood!

Important message number 1 – the following is all researched based and not made up out of thin air.  The research is evidenced based and scientific.   It is also based on the average, and you will always find the odd exception to any rule.   If you think any of these key take outs are a little too provocative or the claims a tad too challenging in terms of what you have always perceived as a truth – I would advise finding out more and doing some further readings.  The topic is huge - and this is merely the tip of the iceberg. 

Key Take Away Points: 

The Importance of the First Three Years of Life – 7 things you should know.

1. The first 3 years of your life ARE the most important. 

Your first 3 years of life are like your blueprint.   The relationship you formed with your most significant other (significant other being the main caregiver – like your Mum or Dad) and the quality of that relationship, is critical to who you are as a person now.   This relationship is called a dyadic relationship (twofold)  If you strengthen this dyadic relationship it will improve the outcomes for a child.   

2. Sending young children under 3 to childcare does not improve their future outcomes. 

Your child will not get a higher IQ or improve your child's social skills by attending childcare.   Staying at home, and being in a dyadic relationship – even if that relationship is a little dysfunctional but ‘good enough’, is still better than going to childcare.   If you want to improve the future outcomes for your child – then strengthen the bond between the adult and child with whom the dyadic relationship exists. 

Please note – in a good, functional relationship where there are many strength factors such as a strong dyadic relationship, supportive grandparents, loving parents and parents with a degree, childcare is just one risk factor and in itself will not ruin your children’s future!  The key point here is that to believe that childcare for young children improves the future outcomes for your child is a myth – and not at all supported by scientific, evidenced based research.

3. The longer you stay at home, in those early years, the higher your IQ will be. 

Being at home, in that dyadic relationship, forms the pro-social base that little people need to navigate and understand the world they live in.  This is particularly true for those little people less than 18 months old.  As the parent, when your little person acts like a revolting ratbag – you know those times when they throw their food at you, or if you are giving them a cuddle, and they pull your hair or slap you.  As a loving parent, you don’t slap them back – instead, you teach them the right way to do things, continue to love them and respond to them in a pro-social way.  In addition, 

4.  By the time you are 3, your brain is over ¾ grown. 

The average brain is 1200 grams – by the time you are 3 it is 1000grams.  This in itself tells you just how much development of the brain is taking place, and learning about the world, in those first 3 years.  Have you ever noticed how the average 3 year old has a fairly large head in proportion to their body?  You do if you try to slip a top over it!!!  This is why.  For the rest of their development, they only have a further 200grams to grow. 

5.  Your brain is not ready for formal education until you are 7.

Yes, there are exceptions, especially for first born girls (that’s a different post).  However, there is no evidence to show that teaching your child to do something their brain is not designed to do until they are 7, at the age of 3 (like reading) will improve their IQ or make them more successful.   Given this information, one does wonder why the western world, for the most part, seems hell bent on standardised testing regimes.  Do they not know the research? 

6. The language that is spoken to you by the person who has the dyadic relationship with you, is what will wire your brain for the world you live in.

The words that are spoken to you from anyone else, including in childcare, or by a brother or sister, do not count.    The more you talk to you baby, irrespective of what that is, the better it is for their brain development. 

 7.  Scientists are able to statistically predict the outcome of your life, and how successful you are going to be, based on who you were – and the experiences you had – up to the age of 3.    

This work is based on the Dunedin Longitudinal Study, which is a long term, in depth study of  health, development and behaviour.  One of their most famous studies was following a group of children born in 1972.   The Dunedin Study Website  

With the above points in mind, what does this mean for policy makers?  If we were serious about making a difference to the future outcomes of our young people, and for the future of our world, where we paid out less in health, incarceration, and the impacts of neglect - surely we would take cognisance of the research and design our policies for child welfare differently?

Imagine if:

- We invested in early intervention, by providing support systems, structures and resources so that those children most at risk and vulnerable were able to have their relationships with their significant dyadic other - usually the Mum, strengthened. 

Imagine if:

- As a society we invested in ensuring families were able to have a main caregiver at home for the first 3 years of a little persons life?  

Imagine if:

- We valued the first 3 years of a little persons life and we valued the importance of that dyadic relationship, as a society?

Researchers much smarter than me have done the maths.  Investing in the early years saves so much more tax dollars at the other end.  Whist it is not rocket science, it is indeed, it would seem, brain science!

Friday, January 24, 2014

What Teachers Really Want...


One of the concerns I always have with Government Policy, is that most often, it is designed by those who don't work in the profession, and oftentimes, it is driven by forces that are so far away from the current realities of a classroom and the day to day actualities of a modern student, that you wonder what the agenda is.

I would like to be naive and believe that what sits behind the majority of Educational Policy is what is best for children.

Unfortunately, experience, recent and current initiatives, and the neo liberal trends across the world would suggest otherwise. However, the drivers behind Public Education and what Public Education is, is a debate for another time.  In this post, I want to look at what the average teacher would want, if the average Politician would just ask.

Let me start with a brief background.  This week, the Government introduced a new Policy.  I have already posted about that, and you can read more in The Devil is in the Detail.   I won't rehash that here, but it has made me think about that 359 million dollars, and what I would do with it.

Firstly - some very very rough maths.  That 362 million additional money into the Vote Education budget is roughly $141,394.25, per school.  Of course, thats an even split across all schools in the country and does not take into account size, type (e.g. Hospital Schools, Health Camps etc).  Once you put that slider across, I am confident it would amount to far more per school.  However, for the sake of this post, lets sit with $141,394.25.


To big business, most likely not a lot of money - but to the average school, like mine, thats a good dollop of money that would make a huge difference, particularly in the interim.

So, what would I do?

1. Fund Teacher Aides (TA's) in classrooms to support literacy and numeracy programmes.

Not just willy nilly, but based on what our data shows as the areas needing assistance and using that data -  I would use my lead teachers for Literacy and Maths (most effective schools already have these) to provide the TA's with specific training to help support classroom programmes.  It would be targeted and it would be outcomes based and the implementation and monitoring would be completed by the lead teachers.  This would include using funding to release them to observe, support, train and use tools like walk throughs.  (I already have this in place but it is expensive, funded by ourselves and it would make a massive difference if I could increase this initiative to reach more students)

2. Fund more TA time to support students with Special Needs and Behaviour Issues.

There is a myth out there that Group Special Education - the Special Education arm of the Ministry, fully funds these students.  Not only is it a myth, but it is so poorly funded that the stories schools could tell you about the advocacy they go into to get the measliest amount of support for these students would make you cry.  Students do not get full time funding, and you can never rely on what you might get because it can change each term.  Hardly inspires confidence in teachers, parents or schools.

If you ask teachers what causes them the most amount of stress, they will say that students with difficult behaviour and those with in-depth special needs, that are inadequately supported, not only take up additional teacher and planning time, they make the job harder.  The complex needs within our schools are not understood by the wider public.   I love that we have mainstreaming and that we have a rich diversity of students in our schools, but when students who require additional support are only funded, for example, 3 hours a week, it makes me despair - even more so when you add disruptive, cognitive and health needs into the mix.  So, this additional money would be such a godsend for schools like mine all over the country to assist with the extra hours of TA funding we need to support them.

3. Fund a counsellor.

I do this for a day a week already, outside of our funding, but this funding would allow me to fund more time.  The difference having a trained counsellor onsite to work with students can not be understated.  But this is not a resource that the majority of primary schools can access.  Mental Health resources, full stop, are scarce, or too expensive to access.  Having someone who is trained to deal with issues that young people face, is an absolute godsend, and reduces incidents in playgrounds and within classrooms.  Yet, it is not something that is funded.

4. Fund additional ESL (English as a Second Language) time.

One of the concerns in the educational sector right now is the amount of students who are born here, but who don't speak english or their first language securely at home.  These students currently receive less funding than students born oversees, but are twice disadvantaged.  The research shows that when a student is secure in their home language, learning English is easier as is any subsequent language.  I would fund additional first language classes for these students, as well as additional english support.  In 2014 we will be running first language classes, but it is always a dilemma in terms of how to support students who lose ESL funding before they are ready and how these additional - but important - programmes are funded.  Unfortunately, money does not just drop down from the sky.

5. Fund Leadership development.

One of the most successful things we have done is fund leadership training for our leadership team.  But, it is expensive.  We have a highly respected facilitator who comes in and runs half day workshops with my team.  Together, we work on issues pertinent to educational leadership and how that relates to their teams.  It requires release for each team member, funding the facilitator and providing additional support, resources and time to embed new learning.  Good, effective leadership makes a difference to student learning.  There are not that many opportunities for middle leaders to be given training, and this was our way of meeting this need.  Additional funding to support this initiative would allow us to continue it, and strengthen the process.

6. Fund the release time of my lead teachers.

Good lead teachers going and observing and providing feedback to other teachers, working alongside them, is invaluable.  Having teachers released so they can go and visit these lead teachers in their classrooms is also important.  My staff have said this is one of the most useful forms of changing and supporting teacher practice they have been involved in, and would like more opportunities.  Paying for it is expensive and finding the money for it is not easy.  Additional funding to support this would be welcomed.   I expect this is similar to what the Government want to implement, but I have these teachers already, they have been trained and they know how to observe, support and guide others.   Growing your team is what makes the difference - having the funding to do it - well that would be amazing.

7.  Fund additional Pastoral Care initiatives.

There are so many students out there that suffer from a wide range of issues - issues that are outside their control, such as nutrition, health, the homes they live in and the types of emotional situations they grow up in.  Funding to support programmes that address these inequities so that they can enter the classroom ready to learn and not be in a constant state of survival and stress, would allow them to access the curriculum.  It is all very well and good to say that a student must meet National Standards - but impossible if they are unable to settle to work when their outside school life is one of chaos.  To be able to fund additional TA time to support these students would be an investment in the long term.

8.  Fund some additional professional development in areas other than literacy and numeracy.

With the demise of the Advisory service and the Government decimating professional development for teachers, how exciting would it be to have the ability to buy in an 'advisor' in curriculum to reignite the fire of inspiration in teachers.  Imagine an external person coming in for Drama or Art!!!  Oh the excitement as we bring something in that is not focussed on National Standards!!  I constantly say to my team that we need to bring the F word back into learning (I will have to post on this another time) - and by F, I better clarify and say FUN!  Students will always learn more if their learning is fun, exciting and inspiring.  In the old days (several years ago), you could bring the Advisory Service in to work with staff, and their expertise would inject a new level of enthusiasm and skill into the teaching of the curriculum.  Now, it costs so much, and the 'provided' professional development has a very narrow focus.

9.  Fund early intervention.

The more resources that are pumped into the first few years of school, that includes smaller numbers, more 1-1 time and TA support in classrooms, then the more likely the success of the student for the rest of their schooling.  It is too late at high school.  We underinvest in our youngest students.  It really needs to start at Early Childhood.  This too, is another post for another day.

10.  Fund the time component to go with Units.

Units are dollops of money we fund teachers who take on additional responsibilities.  They are great, but they don't come with time.  Teachers who take on additional responsibilities like lead teacher of ICT, or Literacy, may be paid a little more, but they don't get funded for release time to work with other teachers in their classrooms, to observe, to assist or to plan programmes.  Many teachers I have worked with over the years would rather the time than the money.  Or a mix of both.  Before you ask - no, we do not have the flexibility to use Units that way.

Thats my list to start with.

I should state here that they are things that I know work and are about putting students first, and that my own staff have said they would like more of.

You see, there is another myth out there, that teachers just want big pay increases.  Let me make it clear, I don't know any profession or person in a job who would say no to additional money - but for teachers, its not always about paying them more.

What they really want is more Teacher Aide time, help with difficult behavioural students, support for their at risk and special needs students, time to visit other classes, and time to sit and work alongside the lead teachers.  Sure, you can pay them more, but it does not, and never will, solve the real issues that face teachers.

So, next time you feel like waxing lyrical about the state of Education, how about you ask teachers what they want.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Devil is in the Details...


Let me begin by making it very clear that I support more money into the Vote Education budget, and on the surface of it, I like the idea of recognizing leadership and best practice, and I am an advocate of supporting those schools/teachers/principals who need additional support to enable success for students.   The research shows that high quality leadership and teaching makes a difference.  

Todays post relates to my wonderings on the new policy initiative announced today – and for now they are just that – wonderings.  Until I have seen – or have been a part of developing the detail, the jury will remain out and I will remain cautiously optimistic about how this might play out.   On the surface of it, the idea seems to have merit, but sometimes policy and policy ideas can be a little like an iceberg – you never really know what is silently lurking below the waterline.   The devil, after all, is in the detail!

What is this new fangled policy?

Today the Government announced a pre election bribe for the Educational sector.   Touted as a ‘game changer’ and as a ‘major overhaul’ by some, they have set aside $359 million over 4 years to implement a process that is designed to overhaul the leadership in NZ schools.  They have created 4 new management structures, designed to support teachers and principals. 

They are:

1. Executive Principal

A super principal who will work across a cluster of schools, of around 10.  They will be expected to work in their own school 3 days a week, and work across the other schools in the remaining 2 days.   For this they will earn an additional 40k per year.  They will be selected from a panel of ‘experts’ who will be trained over the next year for this selection role. 

What we don’t know:

Who runs their school on the two days they are released, and if the people in their own school are remunerated for taking up the additional workload whilst their principal is supporting other schools.  We are also unsure of what exactly this principal will be doing with the cluster of schools, who the clusters will be, how they are determined (for example, is it expected that all schools will be part of this community or just selected ones, and if you are selected under what criteria?) or what they will be expected to do (let alone what will happen if they don’t do what it is they are expected to do – I wonder what kind of super leadership powers the Executive Principal might have?). 

2.  Change Principals

This has been set up for those schools determined to be struggling and performing poorly, so that they can attract a high caliber principal to their school.  These principals are expected to go into the school for a fixed term of 3-5 years and lift student achievement.   For this they will get an additional $50k on top of the salary offered by the school. 

What we don’t know:

What constitutes a school that is struggling or performing poorly?    Who decides that?  Are these new fixed term principals expected to meet certain objectives and if so, what will these look like?  As these positions are only implemented as current principals leave, will there be any initiatives for schools who can’t recruit a new principal? 

Expert Teacher

These will be highly respected, proven educators who will be expected to work alongside Executive Principals and be experts in particular fields.   It is understood that these teachers will work with other teachers within their schools and within other schools.  They will be freed up for 2 days a week to do this.  For this role, they will be remunerated an additional 20k.   This is a fixed term role for 2 years. 

What we don’t know:

How these teachers are chosen, or what the criteria will be.  I expect this will be developed over the following year.  Who will decide on how this teacher is determined as an expert, and what steps they will need to take to keep this ‘label’ – a warrant of fitness, if you like, will also need to be determined.    I already have these kinds of teachers in my school who share their practice and support their colleagues.  I wonder how the funding to release them to assist their colleagues will work, and who will take their class while they are doing so.   Apparently they anticipate this will apply to about 2% of teachers in the country.  I believe there are far more than this in our schools. 

Lead Teachers

These will be proven teachers whom are effective classroom educators.  As a lead teacher they will be expected to be a role model for others in the school and wider educational community.  They are expected to have their classrooms open for other teachers, to showcase exemplary teaching practice.  For this, they will be provided with an extra 10K.  Every 3 years they will be reassessed to ensure eligibility.

What we don’t know:

What these teachers will be expected to do, how they will be determined, and what the assessment process will be.  I expect it will be similar to the process NZEI developed, and is now being touted as new.   Like the Expert Teachers, there is no mention about how schools will fund the release needed for them to support other students. 

Anything Else?

Well, apparently yes.  According to the MOE information sheet, there will be additional release time provided to schools – there are no details but I expect it will be funded and this may answer some of what I was wondering above. 

Teacher Led Innovations Fund

There is 10 million set aside for innovative practice to support schools and communities.  I would like to be hopeful that this particular fund could be a godsend and used to fund brilliant practices that enhance student learning.  Once again, not a lot of details have been provided and I will wait with bated breath to see how this one pans out.  I would like to be cautiously hopeful that finally there may be a pathway to implement innovative practices.  (fingers crossed)

The Wonderings

So, that is the policy.  As previously stated, on the surface of it, it looks promising.  But, as always, I do have some wonderings.

1. It has been sold to the public and sector as needed because our statistics show us dropping in performance and the tail of underachievement is growing.  Don't get me wrong - it is important to address underachievement, BUT, what data are they using, have the inequality issues been taken into account, and what does it do to address equity? 

2. It states that they will be working alongside the education sector to sort out the details.  Firstly, I applaud that because the lack of consultation in recents years has been appalling.  But, I would be curious to know who in the sector they will consult with and how.  Will it be a cherry picked team or an open consultation?

3. I wonder where they got the policy from (I heard Shanghai but that could be incorrect, and if its not - well that gives rise to many more wonderings which I shall leave for the moment).  I wonder what the briefing papers that sit behind this paper say?  Is that where we will find the real drivers and agendas?  I wonder if groups that look out for the interests of our young people have started the ball rolling already and asked under OIA (official information act) for a copy of those papers?  I sure would like to see them.  

4. I wonder what the trade offs will be?  I heard someone say the Minister said there would be trade offs.  It is a lot of money.  It can't all be from the selling of our assets.  So, what trade offs were made?

5. I wonder if it is a precursor of things to come.  Is this the start of performance pay, voucher systems, bulk funding and all manner of alternative methods of funding and renumeration?  

6. I wonder what the sustainability of the Expert Teacher, and Executive/Change Principal is, and if anyone has designed what that might look like?  When you implement a new policy, for it to make a long term difference, sustainability must be a factor.  When these people are employed to work with schools, what consideration to sustainability will there be?  What resources will go alongside them working with schools?  

7.  I wonder if this is enough.  What about equity (as eluded to above).  With rising numbers of students in poverty, where does food, shelter and safety (physical and emotional) come into play?  Its all very well to have an expert teacher come into a classroom and play advisor, but a fat load of use if half the students are truant, sick, hungry or emotionally spent.  Imagine if that teacher had the 'wider picture' resources to assist them meet all the needs of these students.

8. I wonder what would happen if this initiative was backed up with what schools really need.  Imagine this combined with the following.  You see, some schools already have these amazing staff who fit the expert and lead teacher criteria.  What would assist them in working with at risk kids who often fall into the 'priority' learner category are things like a school counsellor, better special needs funding and resourcing, adequate resourcing and TA time for students with behaviour issues (oh for good mental health resources…), and professional development freedom.    

So, in summary, I applaud more money in the Vote Education pocket, and I applaud efforts to utilise and reward principals and teachers who are expert educationalists, to assist the profession and support those who need it.  I will remain cautiously optimistic because I have too many wonderings that have not been addressed, and as the title of the post says, the devil is in the detail!


MOE resources 


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Favourite Kiwi Music - Most Definitely NOT a Definitive List!

Kia ora fellow kiwi music lovers!!  

This was hard - the more I think about the iconic, classic kiwi musicians and bands that have shaped who I am, and those that are emerging and will no doubt create future memories and shape the world we move into, the harder it became to narrow the list down! 

So, this set of music I share with you today are songs from the past and present, that I have loved and consider some of my favourites.    Please note - its not a definitive list and it won't be the last time I post about Kiwi music - of that I can be sure. 

12 Favourites 

The song that appeals to my inner rock chick….

1. Black Sheep - Gin Wigmore (2011) 

'Gotta pistol for a mouth - my own mother gave me that…' 
Gin Wigmore tops the list of one of the best recent artists to be produced by our beautiful country.  There is no way I could do a blog of my favourite kiwi songs without putting Gin at the top.   I LOVE the lyrics, the beat and her stunning voice.  I believe she is one of our best kept secrets and a real treasure.  This song makes my blood stir through my veins and gives me an energy bolt.  The 'pistol for a mouth' lyrics are ones I can relate to and I love this music video.  If you have never had the pleasure of hearing this gorgeous kiwi woman sing - then I recommend you check her out - I could fill up my blog post on my favourite Gin songs - thats how fabulous she is.  (I LOVE 'Too Late For Lovers' - beautify performed and written!)

Something eclectic and different, reminiscent of the 'Radio With Pictures' days...

2. Settle Down - Kimbra (2010)

Eclectic and intriguing as only Kimbra can be, this song is a recent favourite and I am adding this to the list for its funky video and clever use of music conventions to create a symphony of pure pleasure.  If you like to listen to something a little different and expand your music tastes, then this quirky number is sure to please! '

A song with a hook that drags me in every time...

3. Six Months in a Leaky Boat - Split Enz (1982)

This is an old school piece of kiwi music first released in 1982 (yes, I did say old school) - and one of my favourites of all time.  I love the instrumentals and the blend of pop and classical music.  Theres a nearly two minute 'grand opening' at the start of this music vid, which sets the scene.  I love the story behind this song.  The music is a tribute to the time it took early pioneers to sail to Australia and New Zealand.  The lyrics 'Tyranny of Distance' relates to a history book about how the geographical distance of Australia from Great Britain shaped and continued to shape the psychological attitudes of its citizens.  The_Tyranny_of_Distance:_How_Distance_Shaped_Australias_History Interestingly, this also ties into how the song is also a metaphor for the lead singers own journey of mental illness, when he suffered a nervous breakdown.   One last interesting fact is that during the Falklands crisis the song was 'discouraged from airplay' and was banned by the BBC as it was thought that references to 'leaky boats' would be detrimental to sailors morale!

A talent who will shape the future of music here and abroad…

4. Tennis Court - Lorde 

What list of kiwi music could you make that did not include Lorde?  This young kiwi talent from down the road is currently taking the world (by world I mean the US) by storm.  I love that she is quirky, determined to retain her uniqueness, and there is no mistaking her talent!  I particularly like this song - its lyrics speak of her new found fame and takes a pot shot at the luxurious lifestyle of the music industry.  Whether she continues to shun, and not embrace, the luxury inherent with fame and fortune will be something we will need to wait and see.  Her intelligent, well crafted lyrics and the beauty of her music means she deserves a spot in this list!

Most definitely the best opening sequence of all time and use of a Violin in a pop song…

5. Whaling - DD Smash (1983)

Another old school kiwi single that was voted as the 12th best New Zealand Song of the 20th Century. The opening bars of this song have always 'sung to my soul'.  The use of a violin to draw you in, and emotionally take you on a journey, is what has made this one of my favourites.  The beauty this song evokes, as I imagine the mercurial nature of our ocean and the remoteness of the wild west coast, will mean it will always be a song that represents what it is to be kiwi.  Whilst I am unsure of the history behind the song, for me, it is a reminder of our inner strength and ability to rise above the worries in our world, many of which are of our own making.   It is a quiet symbol of strength and a reminder of the spirt of survival.

A song that brings out the inner hippy and sings to the soul - and best mid song narrative ever….

6. Dance All Around the World - Blerta (1972)

Blerta (short for Bruno Lawrence Electric Revelation and Travelling Apparition) was a travelling theatre group, which moved around the country with a band of actors, musicians, lighting techies, filmmakers and their families.  Some well known and iconic kiwis, particularly Bruno Lawrence, were part of this eclectic group.  This song is an adaptation of a Margret Mahy story (a well known NZ children's author) called 'The Procession'.  One of the appeals of this classic piece of Kiwiana is the mini story narrated in the middle of the song.  The message of peace, love and dance appeals to the inner hippy inside us all.  That, along with its unique use of narration, and the link to one of my favourite childhood writers and a real kiwi hero for me - is why this song is one of my all time favourites.

Beautiful blend of Motown and Kiwi charm….

7. Wake Up - Aaradhna (2012)

I love this R&B pop song by Aaradhna.  A kiwi with Indian and Samoan ancestry, she has had a long history of great kiwi music.  What I particularly like about this song is it is a fun, funky upbeat piece of music that you can not help but want to sing along with.  I love the modern twist on a pleasurable sound reminiscent from the 1960s.  You could be mistaken in thinking that it was performed by one of the big Motown acts from the past.  Listen a little closer, and the lyrics and modern melodies bring you back to the modern world.  It is this mix of Motown charm and modern 'get your life sorted' kiwi practicality, that appeals to who I am as a kiwi woman and makes it into the list of one of my favourite kiwi sounds.

You can't have a list of music without some 'colourful' rap...

8. Swing - Savage (2009)

We can not have a kiwi list of music without some kiwi rap!  I love how this song made it big in the States and for the most part, you could be mistaken in thinking this music video featured rappers from anywhere but little ole NZ!   Apparently it made platinum!   It makes it into my list because its a little naughty and because I am a closet fan of some rap music, and I like Savage - I was a fan of his when he was with Deceptikonz back in the day - who didn't like Stop, Drop and Roll  (2003)- shhh our secret!

One of the best quirky love songs to sing along to …

9. Not Given Lightly - Chris Knox (1990)

Who would not love this classic kiwi love song?  Its chilled out and laid back pace is so kiwi, you can imagine a bonfire on the beach, a few 'lemonades' and a group of good friends having a great sing song whilst reminiscing about your first love.  Those of you familiar with the song - I know you are quietly singing along, tapping your toes and I am confident you are currently reliving your own memories of this iconic kiwi classic!

A pure classic by anyones standard….

10. Forever Tuesday Morning - The Mockers (1984)

I cannot compile a list of my favourite kiwi songs without adding The Mockers - the question for me was, which song would I choose?  I settled on this one but I have to make mention of One Black Friday, because I loved this song.   Back in the day I thought Andrew Fagan (lead singer) was just fabulous and this song was such a cheerful pop song that when you hear it makes you want to sing along.  It brings back memories of kiwi barbecues, road trips and good friends!

You can't have a list without these guys….

11. Why Does Love Do this to Me?  - The Exponents (1991)

I hear this song and I am instantly transported to my Uni days, with memories of Dunedin, the Uni life, singing at the top of my voice, and dancing like a woman possessed!!  Ask any kiwi who has ever been to a wedding, house warming, party of any kind or high school dance (in the past, now and I no doubt in the future - last time I heard it was at our end of year work function!) and they will tell you this is a classic kiwi song!  It is one song that will guarantee I will head to the dance floor, and for that reason it belongs in this list!  (and I know a few mates who would be a little cross if I failed to add an Exponents track!!)

It may not have been written about NZ but it sure describes it well…

12. Four Seasons in One Day - Crowded House (1992)

You can not have a list of my favourite kiwi songs without adding in this song!  I simply adore this song.  I love the hook - and I sing this like I am on stage with them.  We have it on our Singstar list and its always a song I choose to sing -not because I am able to ace it - but because its such a beautiful ballad to sing.  Although written about Melbourne, this song, to me,  represents the climate in NZ beautifully.  Particularly the city of Dunedin.  

Honourable Mentions

1. Save Yourself - Greg Johnson 

I love Greg Johnson.  His music is soulful, I love his lyrics and I think he is a talented artist.  Unfortunately, he has not found great international success, but he makes it onto my list because as far as I am concerned, he is a great kiwi musician.  This song, in particular, holds a special meaning for me, and I can not count how many times I listened to this song, healed from within and was grateful for its presence in my life.

2. Fade Away - Che Fu

This has always been a favourite of mine.  I think these muscicians are very talented!  I love the hip hop/R&B/reggie  sound.  Its a great video, has fabulous lyrics and overall it is a pleasure to listen to.  I like a lot of our kiwi hip hop - so I will sneakily sneak in a quickie by Christchurch Hip Hop artist Scribe (whose own story is inspirational for many young kiwis) Dreaming.

Watch this space - there are so many wonderful kiwi songs that I feel there may be more posts to come…after all…it will be NZ Music Month soon!