The giant 7.5-metre guitar statue that greets you on arrival into Gore might give it away, but after all, this is the home of New Zealand’s country music scene.
The Hands of Fame statue is not only a salute to Gore’s status as New Zealand’s country music capital. It serves as a tribute to country music hall of famers worldwide. Here you will find the hands prints of international artists such as Kenny Rogers, Gary Morris and Ricky Skaggs alongside Kiwi legends such as Ray Columbus, The Topp Twins and Suzanne Prentice.
It’s often said Gore excels in country music due to its rural location, farming communities and a love of anything country. The District has certainly produced some of New Zealand’s top country music stars over the years through its passion-driven Gore Country Music Club.
Country music royalty is crowned here, through the annual MLT New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards, held each year to showcase New Zealand’s country music talent and give budding professionals the chance to launch their career.
Since 2021, the Gold Guitars have been a marquee event of the Tussock Country Music Festival, with packed venues for auditions and the finals nights for the juniot, intermediate and coveted senior Gold Guitars titles.
The awards started in 1974 and over the years have become the biggest and most prestigious country music event in New Zealand. The growing reputation of the awards combined with Gore’s affinity with all things country were the foundations for a sister city relationship between Gore and its Australian country music counterpart, Tamworth in New South Wales.
The awards have long been noted for putting Gore on the map, both nationally and internationally.
Winning the illustrious Gold Guitars has created a stepping-stone for many of New Zealand and Australia’s top country music artists. Household names such as Patsy Riggir, Noel Parlane and Kylie Harris, along with songwriters such as Jeff Rea, Rosy Parsons, Eddie Low, Terry Gavin and Judy McTaggart have all gone on to create a career from their country talents.
In recent years, modern country music has taken the lead. Gold Guitars winners such as Camille Te Nahu, Kaylee Bell, Jenny Mitchell, and Kayla Mahon have worked to build their careers across Australasia and on to Nashville, in the United States.
The Gore Country Music Club is still going strong, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022. Each month it holds an entertainment day, where performers take to the stage on a Sunday afternoon at its temporary club rooms at the Gore Town & Country Club, in Bury Street.
For more information, check out Gore Country Music Club