One of Taranaki’s iconic cover bands from the 1960s, 70s and 80s have inspired a new exhibition opening at NPDC’s Puke Ariki Museum on 9 December. Kount Five Plus Two: Pop Culture in Retro Taranaki 1966-1983 pays tribute to Kount Five Plus Two, a seven-member band that became a symbol of the local music scene, playing at dances, cabarets, and hotels across the region over its 17-year career. Visitors can relive the music, the fashion, and the memories of the era when the band were regular performers at Taranaki dance halls, Ōpunake Mardi Gras, the Bowl of Brooklands and the Westown Motor Hotel – making them a cornerstone of Taranaki’s entertainment landscape.
In the 1960s they played throughout New Zealand, sharing the stage with high profile acts when they toured Tranaki, including the late Ray Columbus. “Kount Five Plus Two encapsulates the spirit of an era through its music, and this exhibition allows us to revisit the moments that shaped Taranaki’s cultural landscape,” says NPDC Manager Cultural Experiences, Zara Stanhope.
“For those who may have gone to one of the band’s shows, this will be a reflective journey back to a cultural moment full of fond memories, and for others a chance to discover what was a golden age for Aotearoa New Zealand and the local music scene.”
The exhibition features photos of the band’s performances and collaborations over the years and people will be able to immerse themselves in the music of the era, try on retro clothing, and even break out their moves on a lit-up floor. Kount Five Plus Two was formed in Stratford and featured two female and five male performers, with John Paki Paki on lead vocals. John still lives in Taranaki and will be at the exhibition’s opening night as will surviving members of the band from throughout New Zealand and Australia. Joe Hignett and Pete Webb passed away earlier this year. As the cultural landscape in New Zealand underwent significant transformations, Kount Five Plus Two played a pivotal role in providing a soundtrack to the changing times.
What: Kount Five Plus Two: Pop Culture in Retro Taranaki 1966-1983.
Where: Temporary Gallery, Ground Floor Puke Ariki Museum, New Plymouth. When: 9 December 2023 – 8 June 2024.
Free entry. Find out more at pukeariki.com
Fast Facts Puke Ariki first opened on 15 June 2003
It is the world’s first purpose-built, fully integrated museum, library and visitor information centre.
Puke Ariki has three long-term galleries (Te TakapouWhāriki, Taranaki Naturally and the Gallery of Taranaki Life) and components of these get changed out regularly.
The temporary, Lane and Wall exhibition spaces show touring exhibitions that are either curated in-house or brought in from other museums.
Te Pua Wānanga O Taranaki/Taranaki Research Centre is also housed at the site.