Tribute to an adopted homeland

15 June 2020

For a young boy immigrating from the other side of the world, the memory of sailing into Wellington Harbour 60 years ago is something musician Paul Schreuder has never forgotten.

Paul Schreuder playing guitar.

Paul Schreuder has been recording songs in Wellington for decades.

“My first sight of the city was seeing the hills all lit up like a Christmas tree, and as a seven-year-old from the Netherlands – a country with no hills – it was a real powerful image as the boat arrived at night time.”

It was 1960 when the Schreuder family moved to New Zealand, settling in the capital city, where Paul went to school and has gone on to have a long and successful music career.

Paul was the APRA Silver Scroll Award winner of 1980 with his song ‘You've Got Me Loving You’, and he is currently in the process of recording his 15th album. It was the lead track on his eighth studio album, In Amsterdam, that he pays tribute to his adopted hometown with ‘The Wellington Song’.

“Not many place names in New Zealand sound great in a song, but Wellington has a great ring to it,” he says. In the song, Paul makes reference to some of his favourite Wellington spots, including Cuba Street and its long-standing music store Slow Boat Records.

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“Then we’ll go to Lyall Bay, watch the waves and the aeroplanes, and complain like hell about the wind and the cold,” sings Paul in the YouTube music video.

“I wanna climb up to the top of Mt Vic, and look right down and take some pictures of childhood memories and think about days to come. A billion-dollar view for free, the hills light up like a Christmas tree, the harbour and the bay are still sleeping.”

Paul says the song was inspired by Wellington’s rich sense of diversity. Over the years, he has performed live at many of the capital’s bars, and he says he was privileged to record his first three albums at the RNZ studios that sadly no longer exist.

After winning the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll song-writing award, Paul took a 10-year break from recording to study at Massey University, Waikato University, and to complete some training in New York.

Paul says music has always been like “therapy” for him, and for the past few decades he has been sharing this insight with others as a senior lecturer in addiction studies, and informing how music therapy can play a part in addiction recovery.

Now living in Kāpiti, Paul’s 2009 album Sobertown – a collection of 'therapy' songs – has been used in various treatment centres throughout New Zealand and he has presented at national and international conferences.