Don hits the right note

02:01, Mar 07 2012
Don McGlashan
SURPRISE HONOUR: Musician Don McGlashan will join other big names including Lynley Dodd and Michael Jones as one of Auckland University's distinguished alumni.

He admits he was not always a studious pupil at school but Kiwi musician Don McGlashan will soon be one of Auckland University's distinguished alumni.

The Eden Terrace resident is well known as the front man of classic Kiwi band The Mutton Birds.

His numerous achievements also include winning a Silver Scroll in 1994 for the song Anchor Me and a second in 2006 for writing New Zealand's third biggest single of all time, Bathe In The River.

Mr McGlashan, who grew up in Milford on the North Shore, graduated from the university in 1981 with a "ramshackle" degree in English and music.

"I wasn't a blindingly successful student. I got A's in things I was really fascinated by and C's in things I wasn't so interested in."

Taking up courses in everything from Chinese politics to French horn playing and then not completing them meant it took the 52-year-old five years to complete his degree.


But everything he learned at the university has stayed with him and a course in American poetry proved to be particularly useful.

The students in the class were required to keep a diary instead of writing essays.

"The habit stayed with me and it's the source of all my songs," he says.

Mr McGlashan says he was enormously lucky to go to university when he did because he didn't have to worry about a student loan or be as concerned about employment prospects as students are today. Instead he was able to dabble in a lot of different subjects.

"I feel for students today. Then there was a sense of unlimited possibilities that I don't think is there any more."

Now he spends his time writing music for television programmes and movies – most recently for Sione's Wedding 2: Unfinished Business – and performing with his band The Seven Sisters.

He will also be on stage at the Q Theatre during March and April in the play Ship Songs.

Other winners this year include writer and academic Ranginui Walker, artist Dame Robin White and director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in the US, Professor Charles Alcock.

Mr McGlashan will collect his award at a ceremony on Friday night and says the calibre of the other recipients makes being recognised even more of an honour.

"To be on the same podium as Ranginui Walker is something I could never really have imagined. I'll be proud to stand up there to represent the performing arts."

Mr McGlashan and fellow winners will be taking part in a panel discussion hosted by Finlay MacDonald at the Maidment Theatre tomorrow starting at 6pm.

The event is called Auckland Live and tickets are $30.

Visit for more information or tickets.

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