Former Split Enz bassist helps to see opening of new music block at old school

Mike Chunn inside one of the studios of Sacred Heart College's new School of Imagination.
HUGH COLLINS/FAIRFAX NZ

Mike Chunn inside one of the studios of Sacred Heart College's new School of Imagination.

An esteemed Kiwi musician has been instrumental in bringing a new building to life at his old school.

Mike Chunn, the original bass player of the legendary Split Enz, has helped see the establishment of Sacred Heart College's new music department, the School of Imagination.

Designed by Jasmax architects, it incorporates recording studios and a 250-seat theatre.

Mike Chunn with students and head of music Nino Sloser.
HUGH COLLINS/FAIRFAX NZ

Mike Chunn with students and head of music Nino Sloser.

The Auckland school officially opened the building on April 7 with a ceremony which was attended by the Catholic Bishop of Auckland.

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Glendowie's Sacred Heart College boasts an impressive musical alumni which includes Dave Dobbyn and brothers Tim and Neil Finn.

However Chunn said music wasn't a subject when he attended in the 1960s.

He recalls sneaking off with Tim Finn and other classmates to pretend to practice piano because that was the only instrument they were encouraged to pursue.

"But it wasn't [piano], we were just dreaming of being The Beatles," Chunn said.

As a result, he and the likes of Finn didn't take music seriously until after they left school.

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"I always thought that songwriting and making records and doing rock and roll shows should be part of what a teenager does."

Chunn has been advocating the development of the School of Imagination due to his desire to see musical innovation fostered in the school.

"Now that we've given them a field to play on they'll go into the recording studio and start making records of songs that they have written and all the crafts that come with it," he said.

"It's a whole environment of where the imagination, creativity and everything is on fire.

"To me the School of Imagination is a model for what every school should have."   

Chunn is the founder of Play It Strange, a charitable trust that develops musical and writing skills at secondary school level.

He said this was done with the vision of seeing songwriting embraced in the NCEA curriculum.

The goal finally came to fruition last year, with songwriting now being an official achievement standard.

"I think that has given young songwriters a world in which they are legitimately able to write songs, have them assessed and their classmates will get to hear them," Chunn said.

"People listen to it and you feel empowered by your pursuit of that craft." 

 - Stuff

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