New Zealand

UNESCO City of Music

since 2017

With music and language intrinsically linked in Māori and Pacific culture, these communities add a richness and a unique sound to the Auckland’s cultural fabric: Māori waiata (songs) and moteatea (laments) serve a particularly important function, capturing otherwise untold histories and expressing our city’s stories of love, fear, anger and loss.

Many well-known New Zealand music artists originate from Auckland. Due to population size, the location of the music business and the city’s position as a gateway to the world, Auckland has long attracted musicians from the rest of the country to call this city home, too.

Several of New Zealand’s notable independent record labels, as well as all of the New Zealand offices of international record labels are based in Auckland, and have been responsible for signing and nurturing new talent. Many of the country’s music administrators (including managers, facilitators and organisers) and national music organisations base themselves in Auckland.

The city is also home to the world-class Auckland Philharmonia and Symphony and Youth orchestras. Notable festivals are held in Auckland; and our universities and vocational institutes cultivate new generations of musicians, composers, producers, audio engineers and administrators.

Music articulates Auckland’s voices in times of social activism and celebration, and the city is host to many indigenous, classical, jazz and ethnic music festivals and concert programmes. The city is governed by Auckland Council, the largest council in Australasia, and its programme of outdoor music events each year is comprehensive and reflective of the city’s cultural diversity. On a smaller scale, the indie music scene is supported by small venues around the inner city and beyond; suburban and community choirs and orchestras are thriving; and the  city has a fine tradition of instrument-making and technology innovation.

Auckland’s City of Music vision:

Music in Auckland is thriving and is part of the everyday lives of Aucklanders, with a music scene that offers prime opportunities for success and that encompasses the unique sounds and character of the city.

Summary of key actions areas:

  1. Strengthening the music ecosystem

– Promoting the vital role of grassroots venues

– A specialised skilled workforce

– Help to grow sustainable creative communities

– Develop creative launchpads and incubator hubs

  1. Collaborate with other UCCN cities
  2. Champion Māori music on a world stage
  3. Support music and creative networks in the Pacific region
  4. Promote the use of music in public spaces
  5. Value and preserve our music heritage.



Mark Roach
UCCN Focal Point
+64 21 215 2252

Facts and Figures


Located in the North Island of New Zealand, Auckland (Tāmaki Makaurau) sits on an isthmus, surrounded by still and sparkling harbours. The only city in the world built on an active basaltic volcanic field, its sprawling landscape is defined by its cones, lakes, and islands, with the natural environment characterising much of the city’s urban planning and activity.

Auckland is one of the most diverse cities in the world: its 1.5 million residents span more than 220 ethnic groups, and four in 10 Aucklanders are born overseas. It is also home to a large Pacific population and 60 per cent of indigenous Māori live in Auckland and surrounding regions.

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