Hear 'Sticky Beak the kiwi' performed by staff at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
Click on the arrow to play or download as a podcast (mp3, 3.2mb) - right click on link and choose 'Save target as' or 'Save link as' to save to your computer.
Many traditional Christmas songs have been adapted for a New Zealand audience and conditions. In 1981 Kingi Ihaka wrote 'A pukeko in a ponga tree', a version of the popular song 'The twelve days of Christmas'. The Kiwi version has become a firm favourite in schools and often appears on New Zealand Christmas song compilations. Some hymns, such as 'Marie te po' ('Silent night'), have been translated into Maori to give them a New Zealand flavour.
One of the most popular New Zealand Christmas songs of the 1960s was 'Sticky Beak the kiwi', recorded by Kiwi Records. Gisborne songwriter and folk singer Bob Edwards wrote the words in the hope of producing a Christmas song especially for New Zealand children. Another local, Neil Roberts, set the words to music. Fourteen year old Gisborne schoolgirl Julie Nelson was selected to be the vocalist and recorded the hit song in 1961. She was backed by local group the Satins and the Whanganui dance band, the Don Bell Orchestra. The version available on this site was produced by staff at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage in 2007.
The lyrics read like a manifesto of workers’ rights. The Aotearoa branch of the Santa Claus Distribution Union made it perfectly clear who was in charge once the sleigh arrived in this part of the world.
Now Sticky Beak the kiwi, that bird from way down under
He's caused a great commotion and it isn't any wonder
He's notified old Santa Claus to notify the deer
That he will pull the Christmas sleigh in the southern hemisphere.
Lots of toys for girls and boys load the Christmas sleigh
He will take the starlight trail along the Milky Way.
Hear the laughing children as they shout aloud with glee:
'Sticky Beak, Sticky Beak, be sure to call on me.'
Now every little kiwi, and every kangaroo, too,
The wallaby, the weka, and the platypus and emu,
Have made themselves a Christmas tree with stars and shining bright,
So Sticky Beak will see the way to guide the sleigh tonight.
Now Sticky Beak the kiwi, that Maori-land dictator,
Will not allow Rudolph's nose this side of the equator
So when you hear the sleigh bells ring you'll know that he's the boss,
And Sticky Beak will pull the sleigh beneath the Southern Cross.
See also the New Zealand folksong website.