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DJ Jacinda Ardern at the Laneway Festival on 27 January 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand (Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
DJ Jacinda Ardern at the Laneway Festival on 27 January 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand (Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Pop CultureAugust 2, 2017

The complete-ish history of Jacinda Ardern’s DJ career

DJ Jacinda Ardern at the Laneway Festival on 27 January 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand (Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
DJ Jacinda Ardern at the Laneway Festival on 27 January 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand (Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

The Spinoff presents a roundup of Jacinda Ardern’s DJ appearances, plus the set list from her much-name-dropped appearance at the 2014 Laneway Festival, with our track-by-track commentary.

Not only is Jacinda Ardern the new leader of the Labour Party (which, according to my social media feeds is going great – she’s already the next prime minister), every profile of her ever written will be sure to include that she is not one of those usual boring politician types, she’s a DJ!

Look …

And if you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing her spin (and, to be honest, I haven’t), you may wonder what a Jacinda Ardern DJ set is like. Well, wonder no more dear reader, for I have attempted to compile the definitive history of Jacinda Ardern’s DJ sets and made a handy Spotify playlist of some of the hits so you can turn the lights down and the laptop speakers up and pretend you were there.

Morrisonville College after-ball, 1997

“Played some Spice Girls” according to someone who was there.

‘A Wedding’, unknown

A guest of the happy couple remembers: “She played a bit of Spice Girls then followed up with a touch of Judas Priest …”

Record Store Day, Real Groovy Records Auckland, 2013

According to one admiring fan on Twitter, she played The Beatles into Toy Love. Sounds good.

AUSA “Political Party”, Shadows, University of Auckland, 2014

Scared of Girls remembers: “She did a DJ set at Shadows in 2014 and not even kidding ended it with TLC – No Scrubs.”

Jessica Storey adds:“And she came offstage during her set to have a dance with the crowd.”

Real Groovy Anniversary, Real Groovy Records Auckland, 2014

NZ Herald business editor-at-large Liam Dann was there and tweeted: “Iggy pop… Toy Love. Sounding great.”

The 13th Floor, 2013

A live-streamed radio show for the 13th Floor. I wasn’t going to include this because it wasn’t, like, live at a bar (plus, you can’t call everyone that’s ever done one of those RNZ Desert Island Disc things a DJ), but she played a bunch of good local music which I wanted to include on the playlist, so here it is.

Laneway Festival, Auckland, 2014


Flying Nun/Out boss and former-Laneway co-promoter Ben Howe remembers how it came to be: “We were chatting at the music awards about Laneway, which I think she has attended most years just as a music fan. Without really thinking about it too much I said, ‘You should come and DJ,’ and she said, ‘I’d love to’. Usually, these sorts of things are carefully considered and discussed with everyone on the team, but on this occasion it just slipped out in the general spirit of wine and celebration.

“I was less thinking about the political implications, more I just knew she was a good person, into music, had DJ’d quite a bit already and had a high profile. I knew she must have good taste in music. A few people later questioned me on it and I responded that I couldn’t resist the temptation to book the future PM of NZ as a DJ, though in reality that was an afterthought. Anyway, it was good to have her and I saw some of her set – she got the Thuderdome jumping!”


1. Beyonce & Andre 3000 – ‘Back to Black’

This deep cut from the The Great Gatsby soundtrack is a slow and confident start to a festival set. Moody and pulsating, it says to the audience ‘Don’t expect any cheap hits here. Expect the unexpected (and a bunch cover songs that aren’t as good as either the original song or the covering artists’ songs)’.

2. Gossip – ‘Careless Whisper’

Another cover. I hadn’t heard this before, but I quite like it. Not as good as the George Michael version, but pretty good,

3. Terry Reid – ‘Bang bang’

Oh, I see what’s going on here. It’s all going to be covers innit? Always one step ahead. You can see how she’s achieved so much in only a year’s more time than it took me to get here, compiling and annotating her DJ sets. Killer song though…

4. Street Chant – ‘Black or White’

Damn, Jacinda Ardern is not only more successful than me but way cooler than me. Not only did I not know Street Chant covered MJ’s ‘Black or White’, I can’t even find it on the internet. But Street Chant are the best, and this is a banger, so I can only assume that 1+1=2. (Approached for comment, Street Chant’s Emily Edrosa replied: “no comment”.)

5. Smashing Pumpkins – ‘Clones’

Billy and Co covering Alice Cooper. This is bad. I would have taken this as an opportunity to go to the toilet or buy a drink.

6. Tom Jones – ‘Lust for Life’

Tom Jones (and the Pretenders) playing Iggy is a fun shtick and the beat is good so you can see people digging this if they’re caught up in the moment, but there’s no way you’re putting this on at home.

7. Sid Vicious – ‘My Way’

The guy that turned the Sex Pistols from a great rock band into a (possibly even better) piece of performance art covering the Sinatra song that Donald and Melania danced to on inauguration night. Kinda puts a twisted spin on an already vacuous song. Sid’s version hold up though, I gotta say.

8. The Mint Chicks – ‘She’s a Mod’

The Mint Chicks, the best New Zealand band of their generation, were always great at covers and this is no exception.

9. William Shatner – ‘Common People’

This is good. And this was before all those dumb ‘Let’s get Christopher Walken to read dumb things on the internet!’ videos, which it could be mistaken for.

10. Snoop Dogg & Led Zepplin – ‘Drop It Like It’s A Whole lot of Love’

This isn’t a cover, but one of those mashup things that were everywhere in the days of Napster and Kazaa. And it’s bad. The only mashup that we need for the rest of eternity, just as a memorial to early-2000s internet culture, is The Strokes & Christina Aguilera’s ‘A Stroke of Genius’. All others are now surplus to requirements and may be deleted.

11. Little Pictures – ‘Buddy Holly’

Now that Rock Is Dead (RIP), this is probably closer to what Weezer would sound like if they formed in the ‘10s, rather than the ‘90s when kids liked guitars more than computers. This is actually okay. The beat is good, but the singing is not. But, just a click away is Weezer, who, I’m reminded, used to be really fucking good. Rock music! It’s fun to listen to sometimes!

12. The Pyjama Party – ‘It’s Love’

The Finns + Sean Donnelly doing a Chris Knox song. What’s not to love?

13. Toy Love – ‘Yummy Yummy Yummy’

Assuming this is the version from the Gluepot which is also Dylan’s ‘Positively 4th Street’, this is an assured and amazing choice to close out with – a lo-fi punk blast that would leave the audience’s brains screaming with tinnitus for the rest of the week if it was loud enough. A+

JACINDA ARDERN AT Laneway Festival, 2014 (PHOTO: GETTY)

OK, party people. What have we missed? If you’ve seen Jacinda Ardern DJ play a set we don’t know about, email us. And Jacinda, if you’re reading this, wanna DJ the next Spinoff party?

Keep going!