New Zealand’s Pacific Music Pioneer

Che-Fu, born Che Ness in Auckland in 1974, has paved the way for many of today’s Pasifika, Soul, Hip Hop and Reggae performers. Son of Tigilau Ness, who is known as the Godfather of Reggae music in New Zealand, Che himself is considered a pioneer in the industry and a pillar of Pasifika Music.

Che is half Māori and half Niuean and attended Western Springs College in Auckland. He was a founding member of the Low-Down Dirty Blues Band, who later became Supergroove. Supergroove’s first album Traction, the first display of Che’s revolutionary musicianship, debuted at #1 on the NZ Album charts, quickly went platinum and was awarded four Tuis at the 1995 New Zealand Music Awards.

NZ On Air first supported Che-Fu in 1993 funding many of Supergroove’s music videos. We continued that support when Che went solo in 1996 with the release of his #1 hit Chains with DLT.

2b S.Pacific, Che’s debut solo album, was released in 1998 and took out Best Single for Scene III at the music awards the following year. The album produced four #1 hits and went double platinum.

Che-Fu’s albums, The Navigator (2000), Beneath the Radar (2003) and Hi-Score (2006) were partly funded by NZ On Air along with 15 of his solo music videos. NZ On Air has continuously support the Hip Hop legend over the past 20 years, including many of his collaborations with other artists.

At the 2002 NZ Music Awards Che took home five Ttuis including Album of the Year for his album The Navigator, Single of the year for Fade Away and Che was awarded Top Male Vocalist. In the same year he was awarded the APRA Silver Scroll for his hit song Misty Frequencies.

In 2009, Che-Fu became a Member of the NZ Order of Merit for his services to music. He remains a prolific musician, celebrated artist and role model.

"He has great standing with both mainstream Māori and Pasifika peoples and it is appropriate that he is the second member of the Ness family to be honoured with this award – his father received the same award in 2009. Che exemplifies the humility of alofa and passion for our Pasifika people, expressing musically the soundtrack of our generation."

Rev. Mua Strickson-Pua (Pacific Music Awards Trust spokesperson) says Che-Fu has the mana befitting the 10th anniversary of the awards.

Che has significantly influenced Pacific music in the past decade and inspired other artists to follow his lead. That is essentially what we are celebrating with his award and the awards themselves.

— Rev. Mua Strickson-Pua (Pacific Music Awards Trust spokesperson)

Also funded by NZ On Air

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