Rare Conchords gig boosts old school funds
01 Apr 2009
A rare home town performance by Kiwi comedy duo Flight of the Conchords has raised $70,000 for Jemaine Clement’s old high school in the small Wairarapa town of Masterton.
Clement and fellow Conchord Bret McKenzie agreed to the gig after hearing Makoura College, which Clement attended in the 1980s, was facing closure.
Show tickets sold out within 91 minutes and locals camped outside the venue overnight in order to get premium seats. The Flight of the Conchords have performed very few shows in New Zealand since becoming international stars with their US TV show.
Sheep on stage
The comedians were performing in the same venue used for Masterton’s annual Golden Shears event in March, and made references to following sheep on stage. Clement said it was an honour to play a venue where, as a child, he was taken to watch a shearing competition.
Clement and McKenzie included Masterton street names and a local café in their song lyrics, and talked about ‘Jungle Juice’ an iconic Kiwi drink made in Masterton and popular with Jemaine’s generation.
Clement told the audience that he was amazed how big Flight of the Conchords were in Masterton, and joked that he wondered if their fame might have spread as far as Carterton, and possibly even to Featherston - two smaller local towns.
Earlier in the day the duo had been welcomed at Makoura College with a Māori powhiri before putting on a special show just for students.
The visit came about when Clement heard last year that the school’s falling roll - down to 200 from 600 - could force it to close. He contacted his old teacher Rae McKenzie asking if there was anything he could do to help.
Principal Tom Hullena said the concert was extremely successful, and had raised around NZ$70 - 75,000, including fundraising by cultural groups who sold snacks and t-shirts at the event.
A committee would be set up to decide how the money would be spent, but it was likely it would go towards performing arts, and possibly a music scholarship, Hullena said.
Students, such as one currently commuting to the Wellington-based New Zealand School of Music, had a lot of talent, but were constrained by costs.
Flight of the Conchords leave for a two-month tour of the United States on Friday.
Powhiri - traditional Māori welcome
Conchords to play homecoming charity gigs
Local fans swoop on Flight of the Conchords stars
Cashing in on the Conchords
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