Commonwealth Connections: The Brokenwood Mysteries

Brokenwood Mysteries

With our spring travel plans and live concert events currently in limbo, Team GDW have resorted to sourcing entertainment from that big, flat thing on our wall.  You know, it has pictures and sound and stuff. Television! That’s it. Sorry, we so rarely use it in this household, that this all seems rather strange. Given our preference for finding shows outside of the conventional mainstream channels, our subscription to Acorn TV’s streaming service has been a beacon of light for our viewing pleasures these last few weeks.  Often selecting random shows from around the globe, we stumbled across “The Brokenwood Mysteries,” a light-hearted detective series from New Zealand that brought with it a much welcomed surprise.

Set in a fictional semi-rural coastal town just north of Auckland, each episode focuses on the recently arrived Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Shepherd (Neill Rea) and his colleague, Detective Kristin Sims (Fern Sutherland), and their investigations of a whodunit murder-mystery.  Running for 6 seasons to date, this small town easily competes with Midsomer Murders in the corpse-to-town population ratio.  Of course, being a classic car junkie, I consider Shepherd’s 1971 Holden Kingswood sedan to be the true star of the show, and it is during one early scene where both main characters are in the car, that the surprise is unleashed.  “Do you like country and western music?” Shepherd asks, fending off some awkward questions from his new subordinate.  “No,” Sims responds, as Shepherd inserts a generic cassette into the player.  Cue the music.  Old country vibes, but no signs of Cash, Wynette or Haggard.  These voices are amazing, but remain unrecognizable to me, at least until I detect the unmistakable voice of Canadian (and New Zealand resident) Tami Neilson.  So just who are these great artists from the Southern Hemisphere?  The Brokenwood Mysteries suddenly had my undivided attention.


While there is no physical official soundtrack available here in North America, there are dedicated playlists and downloads via iTunes and Spotify, where you can hear some of the outstanding songs played during the show.  Here are a few of the artists and tracks that I encourage you to seek out and enjoy too – whether you have a penchant for old country or not, these are some cracking tunes: 

Artist: Tami Neilson (Canada/New Zealand) 

Notable Tracks: “Cry Over You” – “Dynamite” – “Running To You (feat. Delaney Davidson)”

Bio:  Singing her heart out along endless roads and stages, from her days as a young girl in Canada in the touring Neilson Family band opening for the likes of Johnny Cash, to her full blossoming as a formidable talent in her own right, Tami Neilson has won New Zealand’s prestigious Tui Music Award for three of her albums. (Source: Brokenwood Mysteries Official Website)

Artist: Delaney Davidson (New Zealand)

Notable Tracks:  “I Told A Secret” – “So Long” – “How Lucky You Are” – “Time Has Gone”

Bio:  Three times winner of New Zealand Music Awards Country Music Song of the Year Award, winner of the Country Music Album of the Year, nominated for the coveted APRA Silver Scroll Award, and attracting acclaim for his recorded work. Davidson’s lyrical content ranges from classic murder ballads to songs with a deeper insight into the human condition and a sympathy and acceptance of the quirks of life and human foibles. (Source: Brokenwood Mysteries Official Website)

Artist:  Mel Parsons (New Zealand)

Notable Tracks:  “Bones” – “Blame”

Bio:  Parsons is no stranger to the limelight, earning numerous NZCMA and VNZMA nominations and awards throughout her career. She is also a former cast member of Kiwi musical supergroup ‘Fly My Pretties,’ with sell out tours and festival performances throughout Australasia. Mel has also collaborated with Canadian artist Ron Sexsmith and Australian folk artist Liz Stringer.  (Source: Artist Website)

Artist:  Barry Saunders (New Zealand)

Notable Tracks:  “All Those Things” – “Wind In The Pines” – “Here Comes Tomorrow”

Bio:  Saunders is one of New Zealand’s most consistently successful recording artists, having sold more than 100,000 albums with his band The Warratahs. Winner of numerous awards, including Songwriter of the Year, Vocalist of the Year, and twice won Country Album of the Year. (Source: Native Tongue)

Hidden Gems from Other Contributors:

Artist:  The Harbour Union (New Zealand) – “Ghost Of This Town”

Artist:  Barnaby Weir (New Zealand) – “I’m Coming Home”

Artist:  The Unfaithful Ways (New Zealand) – Ain’t Got Time”

Artist:  Jenny Mitchell (New Zealand) – “Wildfires”

Interesting Fact:  Following the completion of the fifth and sixth seasons, actress Fern Sutherland relocated to Vancouver, BC, where she currently resides.

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.