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Kora & Guests


  • Sat 20 Jan 2024, 6:00pm–11:30pm



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Kora has long been recognized as the best live act in New Zealand, with an enduring career and legacy that resonates across the generations.

In the early 1990s, Laughton, Francis, Stuart, and Brad, four brothers of the Kora family hailing from Whakatane, began catching the attention of local audiences. After winning multiple band competitions, they earned a first release on Tangata Records. In 2000 while living in Queenstown, Laughton began jamming with local muso Dan McGruer, who encouraged him to experiment with vocals. Their live project Soul charge was associated with locals including KP, Downtown Brown (Sunshine Sound System) and P.Digsss (Shapeshifter). Dan and Laughton both shared songwriting duties and recorded a four-song demo. Laughton and Fran were reunited in Wellington at Toi Whakaari (NZ Drama School), and began jamming with Dan, and then eventually all four brothers together became part of the 1stincarnation of Kora. One of its tracks, Politician, written in Queenstown by KP, Dan and Laughton, became their first hit on radio, launching the band’s career. Kora released their Volume EP in mid-2004, and it proved hugely popular, reaching Platinum sales status and being picked up for distribution by Inertia Music(Australia), Shiva Records (UK), and Unity Records (Hawaii).

After a UK headline tour came the self-titled debut album, recorded and produced at Kora’s studio. Kora immediately went to No.1 in New Zealand, reaching double-platinum status. The follow-up sophomore album, “Light Years”, came five years later and showcased the band's diverse musical range. With an influence from electronic music, and with an increased use of synths, the album achieved platinum sales and was one of the highest-selling albums of 2013. By this point, Kora had well and truly cemented themselves as one of the nation's finest live acts.

The amount of ground Kora has covered throughout New Zealand and on the international circuit is impressive. In Aotearoa, Kora has been seen at The Big Day Out, Rhythm & Vines, One Love, WOMAD, Coromandel Gold, Homegrown, and Splore. Internationally, their touring highlights include London and Scotland with Crazy P& Norman J, a sell-outat London’s Shepherd's Bush Empire, WOMAD UK, Snowsplash (Japan), Sierra Nevada World Music Festival (USA), and Mosaic Festival (Singapore). Closer to home, they have performed at Australia’s WOMADelaide, Pyramid Rock, Playground, Fresh Fest, and Quicksilver Pro music festivals. By2019, Kora’s live efforts were focused around anew ensemble, consisting of core members Fran and Stu Kora, Dan McGruer and Richie Allan, with new additions Darren Matthiassen (Trinity Roots, Shapeshifter) on drums, Marika Hodgson (Hollie Smith, Troy Kingi, Alae) on bass, and Karlos Tunks (Troy Kingi, MMQ) on rhythm guitar and BVs. Songwriting for new releases began, with new material being instantly well-received amongst fans at shows.


Racing is made up of long-time collaborators Ed Knowles (vocals) and Sven Pettersen (guitar); two crucial parts to the colossus that was The Checks. The two time Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards winners (Best Rock Album) from Auckland, made their way into the pages of NME while sharing the stage with Oasis, REM, The Hives, AC/DC, The Killers and Muse on different tours. Knowles and Pettersen are joined by two other heavy hitters from the Kiwi alternative scene - Daniel Barrett (Bass) and Izaak Houston (Drums).

From the darkness of the late night dive bars where they cut their teeth, to playing summer festivals across New Zealand, the four members of Racing have come together to create a massive sound that challenges anything from their collective musical past.

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