Pop, Power and Politics: Kiwi FM and the ‘Third Way’ in New Zealand


  • Matthew Mollgaard Auckland University of Technology




In 2005 a major multi-national media company launched a New Zealand radio network that played only New Zealand music - Kiwi FM. Within a year it was clear that the experiment had failed, with the network attracting only negligible audience ratings and unsustainable commercial revenue. It was at this point that the New Zealand government stepped in, granting the network free broadcasting spectrum and significant funding in return for the ongoing promotion of New Zealand music. How this happened provides a fascinating insight into ‘third way’ approaches to the creative industries, and in particular, local music as a cultural, political and economic commodity. This article explores Kiwi FM as it moved from being a commercial enterprise to a government partner from behind the scenes, using previously unseen documents and interviews with key players in order to interrogate the utility of ‘third way’ approaches to promoting and supporting the creative industries.

Author Biography

Matthew Mollgaard, Auckland University of Technology

Matt Mollgaard is Head of Radio and a Senior Lecturer in the School of Communication Studies at Auckland University of Technology. His PhD on New Zealand radio is currently being examined (September 2015). He edited the 2012 book Radio and Society: New Thinking for an Old Medium and convened the 2011 Radio Conference: A Transnational Forum in Auckland. Previous publications have interrogated the ownership of New Zealand radio, effects of deregulation of the media and the mythology around ‘pirate’ radio. Matt spent 25 years in New Zealand commercial radio working as an announcer, manager, sound engineer and music programmer across a variety of radio stations.



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