An encouraging story


LUKE Hurley believes that one word of encouragement in the right place at the right time can change your life.

The guitarist/singer-songwriter was encouraged early on by his father, Donagh, to pursue the arts and now has notched up a career in music which has spanned more than 30 years.

Along with recording several albums, Hurley’s music has featured in New Zealand films The Insatiable Moonand Broken Hallelujah, and he’s been the subject of a short documentary this year, To Be or Not to Be.

Hurley will be performing in Invercargill at the Tuatara Cafe. It will be a homecoming of sorts for the musician, who lived in Gore during his teenage years.

Growing up in Africa where his father worked as a surgeon, Hurley’s family moved to Southland following the revolution in Zanzibar in 1964.

However, the “amazing mix of musical styles” in the region including African, Indian and Arab influences had already made an impact.

“I definitely got the taste for music there.”

His experiences also had an influence on his songwriting, Hurley said. Having to leave the island was a sad time for his family, and there was a lot of carnage, he said.

“We were in the middle of that. That was something that’s never left me.”

This made him become quite introspective.

“And I guess that’s the thing about my songs, it’s a bit inward looking.

“I tried to grapple with what’s going on inside. The main focus of the music is to kind of look inwards and see what you can find.”

Although Hurley started playing music as a child, he didn’t experiment with songwriting until about 10 years later.

“The whole magical mystery of songwriting was something that eluded me. I didn’t know how to write a song.”

He said as a child he was in awe of songs and how they were written.

“It wasn’t until much later that I actually wrote my first song… and the first song I ever wrote [Albatross] is still probably my best song.”

Hurley said he still played Albatross today, along with songs including Mona Lisa, Make Room, Kings Cross, Limited Liability and Fait Accompli.

Mona Lisaalso inspired this tour, as Hurley was invited to perform the song at the The Secrets of the Mona Lisa exhibition in Palmerston North.

“The whole focus of that is I haven’t played Mona Lisa in Palmerston North for 25 years. I thought well hey, that’s a cool thing to kick off a tour with.”

The song garnered some early success for Hurley on student radio in the 1980s.

When he was writing the song, Hurley said he shared it with his friend and fellow musician Neville Copland.

“I’d run my ideas past him and most of the time he was a bit dismissive of what I was doing, but when I came up with that one he thought that was good.

“It was his encouragement which helped me to actually complete that song, which is really important. You get a bit of encouragement – it makes a big difference.”

MASSAV Productions presents Luke Hurley Live plus special guest, Tuatara Cafe, Friday, July 13, 8pm. Tickets $20, from Tuatara Cafe or at the door if available. For more information about Hurley, go to

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