Kiwi rock is a term used informally to describe New Zealand rock music and the culture surrounding rock music in New Zealand.
The first Rock'n'Roll record recorded outside the US was Johnny Cooper's recording of Rock Around The Clock for HMV in the mid-1950s. The first rock'n'roll hit by a New Zealander was Johnny Devlin's hit Lawdy Miss Clawdy, which is reputed to have sold 100,000 copies for Phil Warren's Prestige label in 1959-60.
Throughout the 60s strong rock scenes developed throughout NZ and there were hundreds of bands playing and many NZ acts charted. Amongst the key acts were Max Merritt & The Meteors, The La De Das, Ray Columbus & The Invaders, The Fourmyula, and Larry's Rebels.
Some of the more influential bands in the 1970s were Th' Dudes (whose guitarist Dave Dobbyn formed DD Smash in the 1980s), Dragon, Hello Sailor and Split Enz, fronted by Tim Finn, and later, his brother Neil Finn who went on to form Crowded House.
The global punk rock movement had a huge impact in New Zealand in the late 1970s with the most important bands being The Suburban Reptiles and The Enemy.
The 1980s saw the emergence the indie labels led by Propeller Records and Flying Nun record label in Dunedin who were highly influential in the development of modern indie rock.
1990s and onward
Bands currently successful in New Zealand include Evermore, Elemeno P, The Naked and Famous, Phoenix Foundation, Fat Freddy's Drop, Goldenhorse, Shihad (aka Pacifier), The Datsuns, Luger Boa, Steriogram, The Feelers, Flight of the Conchords, Goodnight Nurse, Blindspott, Black River Drive, Zed, Midnight Youth and Opshop. However it can hardly be said that success has been sought by the great number of New Zealand groups that continue to work seriously within the general domain of rock. Among these number groups such as The Dead C, The Clean, Tall Dwarfs, The Bilders, The Verlaines, Beastwars, Split Enz and Swamp Thing.