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“The whole thing was to open doors. There’s brothers sitting out there with talent that hasn’t
got a chance to get through. There are many musos in Tonga without any chances, and I
want to open the doors for them.”
Spencer Fusimalohi on Herbs opening doors for Pacific Island musicians, Tu Tangata, 1982

“We were really pleased with the tracks, and we only put six tracks on because we heard
that was a new thing overseas. It also kept it to a realistic price, but we knew we wouldn’t
make any money. We just felt it had to be done, that’s all.”
Toni Fonoti on the Whats’ Be Happen? album, Tu Tangata, 1982

Phil Toms and Toni Fonoti in the 1981 video for “Azania (Soon Come)”.

“We’re especially keen to get there so we can say what we feel about nuclear bombs on our
doorstep and the burying of nuclear waste. They say there’s no danger from this but talk to
anyone up there. They know it’s having effects.”
Will ’Ilolahia on Herbs performing in Tahiti, Inner City News, 1983

“After Toni left we closed ranks and shut the door. In those days we each had barriers around us.”
Morrie Watene on Toni Fonoti’s departure from Herbs, Tu Tangata, 1986
read entire article here

“In the time I’ve been with Herbs, we’ve been able to break out of the stereotype
and show our young people what is possible.”
Hugh Lynn on Herbs’ influence on young Maori, Tu Tangata, 1986
read entire article here

HERBS 1982
Herbs 1982: Fred Faleauto, Spencer Fusimalohi,
Jack Allen, Dilworth Karaka.

“As far as we’re concerned, we are a band of the land, whether that be, you know, to our
elders or to our young people, whatever, to pakehas, to Maori. As far as we are concerned,
we are the band of the land.”
Charlie Tumahai on Herbs, Mangahanea Marae, 1987

“Ruatoria was perfect. It was a deeply spiritual Maori community, troubled and divided
community, and our music appealed to both sides in conflict. And we thought that there
was a chance that the power of the music could work as a unifying factor.”
Dilworth Karaka on launching Sensitive To A Smile in Ruatoria, Te Kaha O Te Waiata, 1988

“I’m in the band. I am a band member and I am going to oversee the recording process
and will just let it happen naturally, we will see what happens. Whatever that is, so be
it. I think that I’d like to stay in the background and steer Herbs toward some stuff
they can play live and drive the audience crazy...that’s the key of it.”
Joe Walsh on joining Herbs, Daily Telegraph, 1989

“We’re not a rock band, but we will play the rockier stuff if it’s going to open the doors
for our older catalogue. We may have upset some solid fans of the older years, but I hope
we are gaining more fans than we’re losing.”
Dilworth Karaka on the Homegrown album, Daily Telegraph, 1991

“I can see it was a bit funny at first. I wasn’t used to the space, I was used to a faster life.
I discovered I needed guiding back into my Maori self again, I needed to become a New
Zealander again. I realise now the Maori side of me helped me get my feet back on the
ground. It was a steady force, a steady influence.”
Charlie Tumahai on returning to New Zealand after almost 20 years, Sunday Star-Times, 1995

“We have coped in our own way. It was a surprise how long we were in mourning. When
we thought we had enough time to get over it and get back in the studio, we still
hadn’t. We have managed in a way to overcome it and our shows are now a celebration
of his life.”
Dilworth Karaka on coping with the death of Charlie Tumahai, Daily News, 1997

HERBS 1987
Herbs on the cover of Rip It Up, July 1987 (clockwise from left):
Fred Faleauto, Willie Hona, Morrie Watene, Tama Lundon,
Charlie Tumahai, Thom Nepia, Dilworth Karaka.

“Those Orientation gigs that Herbs did were without doubt some of the most important
we ever played. We were kind of like cultural ambassadors, yeah. That seemed to be the
forerunner for us of where we are today. Those students we played to then have
remained involved in the music scene, and our performances have stayed with them.”
Dilworth Karaka on Herbs’ early university gigs, New Zealand Press Association, 2002

“When you become as close as we have and have been together as long as we have,
you do become an extended family. There’ve been a few failures, but we’ve still got our
successes to fall back on. Our relationship has held together, and we protect that as
best we can, but it is a hard row to hoe.”
Dilworth Karaka on the Herbs whanau, New Zealand Press Association, 2002

“This is a special place, and it is very special to me. It was here on a visit many years ago,
up on the hills, that I had a moment of clarity. I don’t understand it, but I reconnected with
my soul, and I remembered who I used to be. I admitted I had problems and I had to do
something about it. It was the beginning of my recovery from my addiction to alcohol and
drugs, and when I got back to America it gave me the courage to seek help.”
Joe Walsh on a 1989 visit to Otatara Pa with Herbs, Hawke’s Bay Today, 2004

“Herbs have never split up -- a lot of people think that we have, but we haven’t --
so there’s always a chance that the whole band will go back on the road again.”
Tama Lundon on the misconception of a Herbs break-up, Te Ahi Kaa, Radio New Zealand National, 2006
listen to entire interview here

HERBS 1987
Herbs 1987: Dilworth Karaka, Charlie Tumahai, Thom Nepia, Willie Hona,
Fred Faleauto, Morrie Watene. Tama Lundon absent. Journalist Colin Hogg would
say, “You could never get Herbs all in the same time for a photo or an interview
or anything. You didn’t want them in the same place for an interview, frankly, but
for a photo it was always a pain in the arse, there was always one or two missing.”

“I suppose the thing that I miss about the Herbs era was, you know, the way we were
able to connect in that Polynesian sort of flavour, you know, with all the different elements,
and stuff like that. But, you know, I do respect that time.”
Carl Perkins on his time in Herbs, NZOWN, Juice TV, 2008
watch entire item here

“We started to nail our own musical identity, which is different to traditional reggae, but --
to coin a phrase UB40 came up with -- Pacific reggae, and it’s a Pacific sound we’ve
managed to tap into and develop.”
Dilworth Karaka on the Herbs sound, New Zealand Herald, 2008
read entire article here

“When the gigs finish, people are singing it walking out the door -- every time. And in the
music business you’re always trying to write that hit song, yet it’s the simple things that
make a hit song. It was a party song.”
Dilworth Karaka on Herbs anthem “Long Ago”, New Zealand Herald, 2008
read entire article here

“He’d always been our hero as kids, Charlie, from Boot Hill, and when he left the shores
of New Zealand to, you know, to chase his dream and that, he took us all with him.”
Dilworth Karaka on watching Charlie Tumahai’s international success, Sunrise, TV3, 2008
watch entire item here

“I only got to work with Willie for a few months. There was constant friction. As the new
boy it was hard to deal with. In hindsight, you can see the problem -- both Charlie
(Tumahai) and Willie were great frontmen, so who was it going to be?”
Gordon Joll on Willie Hona’s departure from Herbs, email, 2008

Gordon Joll and Charlie Tumahai, 1990.
Photo courtesy of Gordon Joll.

“Charlie (Tumahai) and I made an awesome rhythm section. I just love the drumming
on “Way I Am” and “Azania (Soon Come)”, really out-there stuff. And Charlie and Joe
(Walsh) trading riffs during the “Homegrown” solo. We were breaking new ground,
but the critics hated it.”
Gordon Joll on the Homegrown album, email, 2008

“We opened a door, really, I think, that proved that Maori and Polynesian people had
something to say. Wherever we travelled we talked about that ability to communicate
through song and art. And so that’s what we attempted with Herbs.”
Hugh Lynn on Herbs’ achievements, Musical Chairs, Radio New Zealand, 2009
listen to entire interview here

“When we started the band we knew people would come and go. It was my time
and place to get off. It’s like a tree -- as new leaves come on, old leaves fall off.”
Spencer Fusimalohi on his departure from Herbs, phone, 2009

“Most of the time Maori bands would copy other artists -- the cabaret acts and Maori
show bands. It’s something we as Maori are very good at. There wasn’t much recording
of our own music, but here was a Polynesian band doing just that. I saw this as something
Hugh Lynn on his initial impression of Herbs circa 1980, phone, 2010

HERBS 1989
Joe Walsh, Dilworth Karaka and Charlie Tumahai in the studio, 1989.

“Joe was really on the downslide of his life. He’d had a car accident where his wife
and son got killed and he was looking for somewhere to rest his head, he was tired. So
for 2.5 years he lived with us down here.”*
Dilworth Karaka on Joe Walsh’s inclusion in Herbs, Unsung Heroes of Maori Music, 2010
watch entire episode here

* In fact, Walsh’s daughter Emma was killed in a car accident in 1974.
He divorced the child’s mother in 1978.

“He ended up producing an album with us, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Even Joe
pulled things out of Charlie that Charlie didn’t realise he had in himself, too. So it was
quite neat, you know, getting two real strong individuals. And it was a test on each other.
One would push, the other one would pull.”
Dilworth Karaka on the Homegrown album, Unsung Heroes of Maori Music, 2010
watch entire episode here

HERBS 2008
Herbs 2008 (left to right): Dilworth Karaka, Ryan Monga, Kaitapu Monga,
Tama Renata, Thom Nepia, Morrie Watene, Tama Lundon.

“It started off with a dream of mine to get the Pacific Island message out there with
the music that was happening, because as an advocate and a huge supporter of the Samoan
culture, and being a Pacific Islander, I just wanted to get our voice out there and get us an
identity. And I was wondering why is it that there were no Polynesians out there playing
and doing their own unique style of music.”
Toni Fonoti on the formation of Herbs, Poly Cafe, blogtalkradio, 2010
listen to entire interview here

“New Zealand is very special to me. And the Herbs were a great band. I remember
them, I love them. I remember Charlie Tumahai, I think about him a lot. He’s in my
heart. A beautiful man, a great musician, he was very instrumental in me finding
my clarity.”
Joe Walsh on his time in Herbs, The Dominion Post, 2012
read entire article here

“When I left the band I was so happy to hear the band just carry on with that message
around nuclear testing and nuclear waste. I just give a lot of credit to Dilworth for doing
that. He maintained that legacy of Herbs and then all the other players came on board.”
Toni Fonoti on Herbs’ anti-nuclear stance, No Nukes, Radio New Zealand National, 2012
listen to entire interview here

“It’s knowing all those people who have been before me, so many good musicians,
and I know you get measured against them. It’s a hard thing, because there’s that
pressure all the time. But it’s worth it. I’ll always remember one night sitting in the
back of the van at 3am after a great gig and listening to the guys singing along to
the Beatles songs on my iPod. It’s those voices, Herbs really is an awesome thing to
be part of.”
Leyton Greening on living up to Herbs’ past, New Zealand Herald, 2012
read entire article here

Members of the Herbs whanau gather on the eve of their induction into the
New Zealand Music Hall of Fame, 2012 (left to right): Gordon Joll, Thom Nepia,
Will ’Ilolahia, Toni Fonoti, Alan Foulkes, Willie Hona, Phil Toms, Tama Lundon,
Spencer Fusimalohi.