by Dudley Benson

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Dudley Benson's third album, Zealandia is an identity-pop record, a love album to the land, and twelve alternatives to the New Zealand national anthem.

"An arresting epic." ★★★★ - George Fenwick, NZ Herald
"Records this rich don't come along very often." - Nick Bollinger, Radio New Zealand
"A masterful piece of musical story-telling and inquiry." ★★★★★ - Tom McKinlay, Otago Daily Times
"Dudley Benson is a caster of spells and a weaver of dreams. One of the best and most persuasive that we have." - William Dart, Radio New Zealand


released August 10, 2018

Written & produced by Dudley

Arranged by Dudley & Andrew Baldwin

Beats programmed by Dudley

Orchestral & choral transcriptions by Andrew Baldwin

Recorded by Andre Upston, Lee Prebble, Mike Gibson & Dudley

Orchestra mixed by Andre Upston

Mixed by Dudley

Mastered by Martin Korth, Black Saloon Studios, London

Cover photograph by Louise Clifton, assisted by Patrick Roberts, with composite artwork by Matthew Galloway

Design by Matthew Galloway


all rights reserved



Dudley Benson Dunedin, New Zealand

I'm a queer independent artist based in Dunedin, New Zealand. I make music about nature and nationalism. Thanks for listening!

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Track Name: Papa
Who are you?
Where is my mountain?
A whisper, a song in the silence
You awaken me with your voice
Scary and lovely, you say "E tu"
With your hand on my beating chest
Weightless, you take me into your arms
An assembly of strength, love, light

With me on your back, and you on the wind
Together we fly up into Australis’ eye
You know what you’re doing as you intonate,
the cloud unrolls before your arms
Now, I see how you broke up
With your boyfriend all those years ago


You point to the coastline where, as a girl
You were taken from your mother’s arms
Ripped apart
A violence we feed with
The blood of our colony
And quest to deliver kindly domination
Underground aquifer overflowing
We are the soldiers of Kiwa’s army

This union of islands, I get it now
You hid them from a drying world
“Ancient? What’s that mean?”
You smiled at me
As we dropped into Hawaiki

“This is where you get off –
Good luck to you when you meet Hine”
And I say:
“Hine, open yourself up!
I’m ready to enter the vulva again”

Papa, I got this
I know you’re tired, let me give you a hand
Papa, I’ll spot you
Come over here, hop on my piggyback
Papa, I feel you
Tonight you will be the belle of the ball
Papa, I’m ready
To be yours to offer myself
Papa, we’re waiting
With our baskets already full
Papa, we promise
We will keep your fire alive
Track Name: Birth of a Nation
You got your - and I got my - versions of
The ones who came before us
They are here in the continent of mystery
From the stories they gave to us
We’re making up a history
But don’t lock it down
Until we’ve had the conversation

From the North
Kupe made
Staked his claim upon the terra nullius
Fireworks, pohutakawa in December
Then the great fleet came like a tidal wave
They were following the star map
To the land of obsidian and argillite

This is the birth of a nation
It’s time to start again
Give us a fishhook
And I’ll give you a real big star
If we forget what we learnt
And we know what we lost
Can we decolonize ourselves?
This is the birth of a nation

Before we, there was them
Patupaiarehe of the forest
In the mist and dark they met
Under a parliament of bat and bird
And did you hear of the redheads
And their message in the cave wall?
Is it true, or you just lookin’ for excuses?

Un-name the mountain
De-chart these waters

Come below deck to the captain’s quarters
I gonna jack up a deal
I’m gonna give you a chance
If you just gimme your trust
Gonna make you forget everything you know,
like I do
Just offer me who you are
Baby I’ll ease you in, no need to fight
Just put your head on the pillow
Track Name: Muscles
I know you feel like an old man
Weakened by the hand unseen
Its grip is tight around your throat
You cannot breathe, you cannot scream
But there is a grace
When you’re on your knees
You call his name, and save your life!

Speak to him
Ask him how to use your muscles
It’s easy
You will gain the power you’re missing
To save your life

You did nothing wrong
And you don’t deserve this
I can’t comfort you
Other than to say:

I know sometimes you feel like
Nothing more than a link in a chain
Rusted to a tanker lost out of harbour
Steered by a madness you don’t understand
I know that you think you’re done
And they’ve won
This is when you honour the seed
Sown into you by your mother
Deliver the blow
The crown was made to fit your head

Speak to him
Ask him how to use your muscles
It’s easy
You will gain the power
To save your life

How you’ve learnt to flex those muscles
Get ready to be all you are
And save your life
Track Name: Cook Beleaguered
Cook, you look sick
You look green
As green as the ocean that you rode here on
Is dark and deep

Cook, you feel dirty don’t you?
As dirty as the seeds of Neo-Europe
That you carry in your purse, darling

Cook, you are somewhat of a player
Playing both your patrons and
The phantoms of the Antipodes
But Cook, can you as the magus
Curry the favour of the world
As she rolls, falls, cracks and breaks?

High above it all Venus is weeping in transit
While against the clockless years
She turns her back and begins a countdown
There’s a call heard across the waves
An echo received by the silk of the glowworm
Aeons of fossils begin their march
Lamenting the ink of a new world order

Cook, you look sick
You look green
As green as the ocean that you rode here on
Is dark and deep

Cook, you feel guilty don’t you?
As guilty as the dog they hung upon the mast
As an envoy of their mutiny

But now the mana that you had
Is dripping off your jaw
Like a well-cooked cut of rotten meat
And there, between the gristle and bone
Is the promise of a continent of
Industry, in-breds and injoking

But with the great big map we made
In our own special colouring contest
You know we’re heading for the edge
And for the fall that will swallow our babies

Now that the gloss has all but gone
And we’re not pulling tricks like we used to
Why are we stuck in the middle of this nowhere
As the clouds form around our heads?

Patiently standing at our side
Our friends with the taiaha are waiting in limbo
We wonder why the sundial is reading night
But fear in our hearts Victoria’s shadow

Is it an island?
Track Name: We Could've Been Gods
We could’ve been gods
But we fucked it up

I’ve been your lover now
For a while
To be inside you is to feel
A power that I hope will grow
But as we’re getting deeper in
I’m tripping on the scars you have
And I’m worried I’m not your man

Sometimes you are so beautiful
You make me want to sing
But there’s a sadness in your beauty, too
A pearl within a rubbish bin
I get lost in your pheromone
(Put our ears to the ground)

Batten down the hatches, boys
And don’t forget to cheerio
Your Barbie and Ken
Screwing my flow
We gonna watch ‘em swim
In the flood that’s coming

Yeah, maybe we are romantics
Maybe they’re all pessimists
You say there’s activism in each of us
We just got to engage with it
Oh it is a harness to your power
(Put our ears to the ground)

I wanna feel you crushing me
With your hug
Say farewell to the light
Welcome back Io
Let her do her thing
The tide’s calling us again
We’re all boat people in the end

We could’ve been gods
Track Name: Matariki
Beyond the Pleiades and Aries
On a night in June
I search for someone I remember
With the help of a waxing moon

Hidden between constellations
A horse wild and free is dancing
Kaimanawa of the evening
And mother to me

I can talk to her
She responds with light
And I learn

Just because they’re not here
Doesn’t mean they’re not here
Just because they’re not here
No, it doesn’t mean anything

Bouncing between stellar bodies
The message is carved in the sky
Written for you and you only
Interpreted by your DNA

It’s a korero from your forebears
Who have been here before
They’ve done it before
They’ve seen this before

And you can talk to them
They will respond with light
And you will learn

Do you feel it?
Can you sense it coming?
The iceberg rose
Blooming in the black night

Just breathe in the scent
Let it enter your lungs
It will perfume your blood
This is real and it cannot be denied
‘Cos I am your ancestor
And this is your constellation

It doesn’t mean anything!
You know that it’s not true!
Track Name: Rutu
Oh I was looking out of a window
Out of a window onto a land
Of blue hills sleeping
White mountains keeping
The ice from creeping over the plains
I saw a tree there without its leaves on
Without its leaves on like a skeleton
But birds were in it, and I could hear them
Oh I could hear them calling for
Spring to come and bring blossom
Sun to come and melt snow into a stream
Dry the soaking pinecones
That rolled away last year
Tell the wind he needs to warm up
Ask the grass if she would grow extra long
This is what I heard that day
Hidden in beautiful birdsong

As I was looking out of that window
I was so surprised to see it all change
The land was sinking
Those mountains shrinking
The ocean drinking them in his arms
The bluest blanket of the Pacific
Was warming himself under the sun
And from that stillness of tropic beauty
Emerged a woman born of that sun
With skin of brownest goodness
Hair of honey gifted from the bees’ hive
Eyes that watch the growth grow
So musical, fertile
Offering a water lily
“Ko ahau Rutu”, she said
“I am here to help you make into life
What was dead”

“I know you hurt; I will heal you
I know you grieve; I will heal you
You only need to look to me
You only need to come to me
My nature is
An elixir
A fixer
A bandage
A suture
A serum
A vaccine
A vitamin
A remedy
With the charm of a talisman
The tākuta
The tohunga
The healer
They’re all for you!

You only need to walk through me
I will clear your mind
You only need to swim in me
I will clear your skin
You only need to drink me
I will nourish you
You only need to breathe me I will give you life
I am yours
You are mine
I am yours
You are we”
Track Name: Solo
Should I make an apology?
When I didn’t do it, they did!
Some other century
The wars are over
The land has all been carved
A glorious painting
No, it’s definitely not a fake

Should I write up a history?
Give me your scribble, maybe
Make you a VIP
Shame about the language
There’s always a casualty
I got my sweet potato
But she ain’t home so let’s get down to it

Not gonna stop doing what I love
When everything I say and touch
It turns to sold
I’m keeping the books, babe
And the books be keeping you
Every man for himself, mate
Oh it’s a beautiful view when you’re at the top

Every inch of pain is ours
But that’s how it works
It’s how we get our energy
We have these bones to light the wayIf you wanna believe in it baby
Though I always knew that I’d do this
Is it something that we gotta go through

Should I make up a policy?
We’re all holding hands, running
Through the garish green
To every questionGotta answer “We’re all one!”
It’s a mantra we’ll use
Throughout our whole lives

So should I lay this feather before me?
Or should I wipe off this brown face
With the genes of a dairy kingdom?We got ice cream on a leash
See the mono-hobbitsDrowning slowly in the melting pot

Oh they can build their Empire
Yeah time will tear it down

And it might be the hardest thing that we ever do
Track Name: Opo
His name was Opo
He was my summer
He was the breeze in my hair

I don’t know that we’ll ever meet again
It was me and him, Opo

I remember the year
I had bled for the first time
And after school I would meet him
Where the sand dropped away to water so blue
We would talk forever
And I’d tell him
The things that no one knew
Just as my life was to start
He changed what I thought that it could even be

I don’t care what they said about our love
It was me and him, Opo
No I don’t know that I’ll ever feel again
The love I felt back then for Opo

Sometimes at night I hear his voice
Singing in water time

He was my greatest
He was the wound in my heart

I remember the day
That I came to find him, my love of sea
And though the water was warm
An undertow of cold met me there in his place
Dad said that I’d get better, make new friends
But I withdrew into myself
Like the salt of that summer
Our love had gone, returned to the sea

*Threnody for the oceans*

I don’t care what they said about our love
It was me and him
(Don’t leave me here!)
Oh I don’t believe that we’ll ever meet again
But until then, I will remember him
Track Name: It's Ōtepoti's Fault
I wanna take you to a place
I know you’d like
It’s on the harbour, the wind is nice
There’s a view of the islands
And when the tide is out
You can gather a good kai

Have you ever seen a sky so wide
It makes you feel right here in this moment?
They say that if you come here
When the weather’s right
An archway will appear
A lens made of cloud, can you see it?

I am the girl that will break through the bell jar
She is the boy that waits for the right moment

I know you’d love the summer here
The endless light
The powder of gold that runs through
The subterranean river that’s connecting us
Your helix to mine
A stock to prepare for the winter

When we retreat we hibernate
And dream of the sun like an old postcard
But then the Earth begins to thaw
Lupin, show your heart!
A mirror, a memory, a feeling

So what do you think of me
Now I’m a man
And I got a man of my own?
You know that this is the life that I lead
It’s your legacy
We continue the story of you and me

I don’t get so caught up
In fighting with ghosts now
But for a time they were familiar friends
And though the hand on my shoulder
Is sometimes still there
She knows she’s free to go

Is not listening to your stomach
Comes when you don’t follow your feet
The worst thing you can do
Is put up with it
Many have drowned
In the depths of silence
Track Name: Séance
Upland moa
Crested moa
South Island giant moa
Heavy-footed moa
Scarlett’s shearwater
North Island goose
New Zealand stiff-tailed duck
New Zealand musk duck
Finsch’s duck
Brown goshawk
Forbes’ harrier
Haast’s eagle
Southern merganser
Norfolk Island ground dove
Whēkau laughing owl
New Zealand owlet nightjar
South Island piopio
South Island kokako
New Zealand raven
Chatham Island raven
Chatham Island coot
Tutukiwi South Island snipe
Finsch’s duck
Scarlett’s duck
Norfolk Island kaka
Matuhi bush wren
Haast’s eagle

Grey-headed blackbird!
Hodgens’ waterhen!
I call upon you now
To appear before us once again
I see your flicker in the candle
What do you want to tell me?
Track Name: Zealandia
If I reach out and touch a line
Will your heart give a rhythm
That’s also mine?
Is there a language I can learn
To understand you?
I thought I felt you moving in the moonlight
Why do you hide when I come near?

If I dive into the mountain side
Will you show me the pattern
Of the main divide?
Is there a reason for the shadow
That you cast over my eyes?
I thought I heard you crying in the forest
What do your mourn under the Taurean sky?

I love you
You and me are
One and the same, part of a whole

I feel your breath inside of me
But when the time comes
I’ll return it gratefully
Oh will you hear me when I call you
At the midnight of my life?
You’ll take my body into yours
And feed from it
With a blood-ribbon you pull me home

With my hand upon my heart
I give you so freely
My pledge to honour and protect you

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