Remembering music royalty


A ski-loving musician who died recently had a huge influence on the Queenstown music scene.

In Queenstown in the 1980s, Kipa Royal and his bands had residencies at Jim’s Inn in the former O’Connell’s Hotel, at the former Albert’s Nightclub and at Skyline Restaurant.

Though he didn’t live in town after that, Rotorua-based Royal continued to visit and perform, particularly during the ski season.

He originally rocked into town in a band with his then-partner Hine Marchand, who’s still in town today.

She says he was a hugely gifted musician who “worked us very hard and got amazing results”.

Veteran local muso Ned Webster says “he was a big influence and mentor for a lot of us”.

“In those days we were very in awe of Kipa.

“He taught us how to entertain but not only that, to respect what we were doing and do the best.

“He had nice pearly white teeth and always had a smile for the girls.”

Queenstowner Harvey Maguire, an original co-owner of Albert’s, says he was an all-round musician who was also a very good jazz guitarist.

“We had a bit of a wake for him in the [Queenstown] Gardens and I said he would be without doubt the best guitar player who ever went through Albert’s Nightclub.

“He was a quietly-spoken guy who got things done.”

Another local, ex-ski school instructor Wayne Cafe, says Royal brought the same perfectionism he exhibited in his music to his skiing.

“Every morning, as soon as the lifts opened, he was up there, always working on his skiing.

“I remember the look of sheer delight on his face when he finally got his stage one ski instructor’s certificate, he felt very proud.

“He played music at night and taught skiing during the day – for him it was an idyllic life, he loved it.”