The Mockers: iconic Kiwi rock group


Iconic Kiwi rock group The Mockers are in pretty good physical condition for an unrepresentative collection of New Zealand males.

Three of The Mockers before their January 2017 gig at Totara Street, Mt Maunganui

I don’t think I’ve been emboldened by my role in ARTbop but I am interested in “the facts” as well as the creative content. When I see the youthful promo photo image of The Mockers smiling out at me from the entertainment section of a local paper a wicked thought crosses my now 60 plus mind – “I wonder what they look like now?” It’s like a high school reunion – who do you recognise? I decide to pop in to pre-concert Totara Street and check out The Mockers.

From my increasing associations with local bands, Totara Street and Incubator performances, I know the basic drill – bands and their team (if they have one) show up in the mid-afternoon and spend time setting up and most importantly checking the sound. I wander over to Totara Street – a Tauranga venue (on Totara Street, Mount Maunganui) and take a look around. It’s the usual hive of pre-performance activity but the boys I want to examine have just gone off to get some dinner. An appropriately suspicious assistant can’t enlighten me as to where that might be.

The stage is set…



Mount Maunganui’s not that big so I take a walk down the main street – it’s unseasonally cold.

A cold and lonely Mount ….

I don’t locate The Mockers but when I totter back into Totara Street I’m told they’ve just come back and they’re upstairs. And upstairs three mature men, part of the Mockers, are quietly sitting on one of Totara Street’s vintage couches having a quiet beer and a quiet chat. That’s until I pounce on them.

I’ve met very few nasty or rude performers, whether local or international and this trio are no exception. In fact, apart from looking slightly bemused by my unheralded appearance, they are what your Mother calls “lovely young men”.

Andrew Fagan, whose modulated voice I’ve heard in the evenings on local talk radio, like the professional he is, extends his hand and introduces himself “hello, I’m Andrew Fagan”. The other two – who look like lawyers or bankers having a weekend drink – nod and smile. I disclose the reason for my visit. No-one gets septic or suggests I leave the premises at speed.

And….we might as well get it over with – all in all I think they individually and collectively look as though the years have been kinder to them than they have to me.

Sartorially Fagan’s probably best described as “not mainstream” although individually the items of clothing are quite conservative. He’s wearing tight white jeans and jandals – with dark blue painted toenails. His fingernails match his toes. A white high-necked skivvy has a plain v-necked jumper over it. His head is covered with one of those South American style hats with the ear flaps down to the shoulders. He has this calm almost unworldly manner.

They tell me the basics – they’ve been invited to the Christchurch Beer Festival to do one show. This was the catalyst for coming back together after thirty years – and no, they don’t think the reunion’s unusual. The one in the hat has just come back from the UK. They’ve had three days of rehearsals and will be performing 5 shows around New Zealand. If I was them with the example of Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin et al, I wouldn’t think I was doing anything out there at all and that’s basically what they think – “it’s totally normal”.

I ask them how they feel about themselves now they are chronologically older – it’s clear they’re all comfortable with aging and Andrew Fagan concedes he doesn’t feel any different from when he was in his twenties – maybe physically a bit different.

These guys epitomise the New Zealand laid-back cool.They ask me if I’m coming to the show. I’m not but ……

The door is locked when I go to leave. Outside is one of the biggest pre-performance crowds I’ve seen at Totara Street – remember it’s not the ASB stadium more like a smaller version of Auckland’s Powerstation. I have a quick chat to one or two who are closest to the door – they are patently excited about seeing The Mockers perform again.

Waiting for the doors to open

Part of the soon to be full-house for The Mockers

..John Baxter, Tauranga-based member of bands The Carradines and Liberated Squid went to The Mockers. ARTbop subscribers and readers will be familiar with Baxter’s eclectic range of talents including as an ARTbop alternative interviewer. He’s also a photographer, poet and currently a member of The Writing Incubator’s creative writing course. I’ve just published a self-filmed clip of John belting out his original composition “What’s it all For?

Johnny B in the company of brother Michael was at Totara Street to see and hear The Mockers and their supporting act. Although Baxter is a punk-affectionado, he’s in the perfect position to comment on The Mockers past and present. In 1989-90 he was living and working in London and saw “the good show” in a “tiny little pub”.

Of course I get sidetracked and ask him questions about his time in London – part of the time sharing a flat with Simone and her partner in Holland Park, doing building, delivery work and..not playing.

While The Mockers may not be as out-there as Baxter’s own performance style (which he calls “punk crossed with Black Sabbath”) he says “they are really good at what they do” ..”a fantastic band” “a charismatic lead singer (Fagan) who has the ability to connect with his audience, almost one on one”

John reminisces about the pink gorilla suit Fagan was renowned for wearing in earlier gig days. Tonight he’s all in white, white jeans, a sailor suit top, white tee-shirt with some large curved symbol like that for rotary cars. His hair is covered tonight with a white mesh scarf. And of course – he has bare feet.

They start, get it wrong and start again. The music is pop-rock – really catchy, easy to dance and sing to. They’re flawless performers. Between songs people talk, take photos, share experiences they’ve seen them “heaps of times” As the evening moves on Fagan changes into a black and gold jacket and a crown – all worn a long time ago but kept intact. There’s a water bottle to mist them down – it’s hot in the sold out venue.

I ask John about the crowd and he confirms – “one of the most packed nights he’s seen at Totara Street” “90% were of a similar age” “hever seen any band where so many people were singing along when they were playing” Michael Baxter has the albums at home and sang along with most of the songs. It’s clear The Mockers are a well-loved and well-remembered experience.

John and I discuss how to describe The Mockers. He says they rival the Exponents in the way they were accepted in New Zealand. We agree “iconic” is appropriate.

We discuss “rocking into our older years” and I agree with Baxter if it’s something you enjoy – do it for as long as you can. We talk about his bands, his role at The Incubator, his original music, his skateboarding, his mountain biking, about Tauranga music and performance venues.

Finally John comments on The Mockers supporting act – Delete Delete an Auckland electropop-punk – “lots of synthesiser and drums recorded off the computer”. He says how well-produced they were as they had not been playing together long – “a very good band to play before The Mockers”.

Well Mockers – it may have been thirty years – don’t leave it so long next time you’re obviously loved and enjoyed by many – go well….

 There is a comprehensive review of The Mockers music and band members on    

Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.


John Baxter is the host of the ARTbop online show Altercation is well as a being an interviewer and contributing photographer. John is one of the original team who started up The Incubator art-space at Tauranga’s Historic Village. He is the Music Manager, a prop maker, event organiser, exhibition curator and event photographer. John has a keen keen interest in music and plays guitar and sings with local Punk band Liberated Squid as well as playing bass and singing with Tauranga band The Carradines.  An artist John has exhibited at Gallery59, the Incubator and Macandmor Gallery. John is a member of the Poetry Incubator.  John’s accompanying photograph shows him reading his poetry and lyrics at the 2016 National Poetry Day Tauranga.



About Author

Leave A Reply