For some reason I suddenly remembered the music of Esquivel. This quirky Mexican flavoured space-pop is from the 50s / 60s and under-rated I think. He made a slight comeback in the mid 90s with the fringe crowd, but seems to have fallen off the RADAR again. You can get a taste for it here: http://grooveshark.com/#!/album/Exploring+New+Sounds+In+Stereo+Strings+Aflame/4451848
A database of Christchurch (and Canterbury) bands, venues etc from 'back in the days' is here.
A while ago I recently spied an old AWA amplifier on TradeMe. I was outbid but as it turned out I got hold of it anyway. I couldn't find any information on it at all, but it was built in the 1960s before AWA went a bit up-market with their Ortho-fidelity series in the 170s. I put it on a dummy load and found it has an output power of 25 W rms per channel into 4Ω. The thing that struck me about it is just how well the thing was made. It has a nice solid sheet steel chassis, and this was before consumer products started using aluminium (which was also when pressed steel got a bad name with el-cheapo brands using material no thicker than a backed bean can). An unusual feature is that the DIN input sockets are internal and all the cables enter through a large round hole in the back panel. Usually an amp of this vintage would have needed some work along the way, but not one solder joint has been touched on this one. The switches on the front panel are very robust, needing a firm press, and making a satisfying click as they engage. Overall, a good example of quality manufacture. So, what happened to our audio industry?
Maybe the oil shock of '73 didn't help, but serious competition came along at this time from the Japanese manufactures. Japanese consumer products were a bit of a joke in the 60s, but by the 70s they were able to export real quality. The reliability was excellent, they generally sounded good, and they were well marketed. On top of that they focused on mass production with excellent quality control. So, what did the NZ industry do? Well, instead of rising to the challenge, they just made inferior stuff. Examples such as Bell, Sonophone, Fountain and others exhibited all the hallmarks of 'quantity over quality'. Needless to say, this was not going to work for long, and the industry became extinct.
To be fair, some of the issues would have been considered 'outside our control' eg Tarrifs, Labour costs, but as they say 'adapt or die'. A handful of companies did adapt and continue to manufacture hi-end gear ( eg (eg Perreaux, Plinius). The professional industry suffered the same fate. There used to be guitar amps, power amps, mixers (large and small), and speakers made here. Now all these items are imported.