92 | Sam Hunt - Greatest Kiwi of All Time 2023

92 | Sam Hunt - Greatest Kiwi of All Time 2023

Greatest Kiwi Of All Time: No. 92 - Sam Hunt (Down 20 from 72 last year)

The voice is immediately recognisable.  Part actor.  Part musician.  Part performer.  Full poet.  Sam Hunt, one of Today FM’s Greatest Kiwis of All Time.

Born in Auckland in 1946, Hunt was introduced to poetry as a child - both his parents loved reading poetry and stories to him and did so early on in his life. 

By the time he got to high school, Hunt had his own opinions on politics and the world around him.  His views were, well, unconventional and often anti-authoritarian.  He was once strapped for reading a James K. Baxter poem to his class which featured what you might call racey themes.  It was all too much for his Catholic college and so he was asked to leave.   

After leaving school, Hunt roamed between Auckland and Wellington attending university in both cities.  He drove trucks, worked at a panel beaters, taught at Mana College for a spell, but then decided to become a full-time poet.  Quite the occupation in the late 1960s.

With a wheezy, unmistakable recital voice and a messy bouffant hairdo, Sam Hunt became well known around the country after the publication of his first work “From Bottle Creek”, named for where he was living, close to Pauatahanui inlet near Wellington.

His unique poetry performances also helped him reach a broad audience.  James K. Baxter, a mentor and friend of Hunt’s, would write poems for him to recite, often providing advice to the considerably younger Hunt.

Whether his own material or that of his contemporaries - be they Bob Dylan or Denis Glover - Hunt’s distinctive performance style helped build his popularity among everyday kiwis.  The rhythmic, sometimes staccato recitation also made him stand out from the pack.  These factors, along with his unique appearance and genuine talent with the pen and the spoken word would make Hunt one of our most important modern literary figures.

In 2012 Dick Frizzell would complete a series of paintings of Sam Hunt poems and in 2015, Hunt released his own range of wines.

Sam Hunt. Poet. Bard. Literary icon.  And one of Today FM’s Greatest Kiwis of All Time.