I remember seeing the Flight of the Conchords playing at a music industry conference about ten years ago. The conference crowd had been dying the death of a thousand power points when the duo ambled on stage with their guitars and lit up the room with their self deprecating humour and quirky songs. It was early days and they were rough. But man they were very funny.

Since then we  have all watched the rise and rise of the Flight of the Conchords: the success of their HBO series, appearances on the Simpsons, interviews on Letterman and Jermaine Clement’s acting stints in Despicable Me and Men In Black III. To cap off a decade of hard work, the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie last week received an Oscar for Best Original Song for Man or Muppet which he wrote for the Hollywood-produced movie The Muppets. The song is ‘lite’ but the Oscar achievement is amazing. An ocean removed from his stints as the Peter Pan of the Wellington music scene –one minute roots musician the next a ukulele exponent.

Awards bring with them a blush of acclaim and then the applause dies away and the moment becomes a memory - something to dine out on. A cool buzz but 'it don’t change a thang' really as Mackenzie himself has pointed out: his Oscar won’t change much- but it may make it easier for him to nail meetings in Hollywood. McKenzie’s Academy acceptance speech was typically laconic and contained an insightful sucker punch in the coda: an observation that American musicians are obsessed with their careers while in New Zealand we can just live our dreams.

There is something very dreamlike about being a songwriter in New Zealand. Sometimes it can be a bloody nightmare. Sport trumps the arts on funding every time - especially in recession - and as discretionary spending evaporates it has become harder to make a living as a professional musician, let alone a struggling songwriter. Gigging is where the money is at but given that Kiwi songwriters have a total national touring audience of just 4 million people, the population of Sydney, they sure aren’t in it for financial gain. It’s tough doing the business at the bottom of the world.

The tyranny of distance does have an upside however. We are now post-colonial on a multitude of levels. In the last 10 years we have pretty much kicked UK and USA  cultural imperialism  for touch. We have found our own voice. There are now 80 indie labels operating in New Zealand under the banner of IMNZ (Independent Music New Zealand). Despite the perceived level playing field that the internet brings our geographic isolation means that culturally, in the global picture, we are outsiders. Thumbing kerbside on the internet highway. So it is nice to have another 'David and Goliath' Downunder  success story. There is something admirable about a good Kiwi  bloke  cracking Hollywood.

I have done my time in Tinseltown and it is not for the faint hearted. I remember meetings with over-active, forever young Hollywood executives, their loud conversations peppered with one liners and insider jokes. I remember the faux glamour and sometimes the downright danger. It is a world away from Aotearoa and it’s bloody hard work. I have huge respect for Kiwi musicians who are out there taking on the global entertainment industry.

The musical community of Aotearoa can momentarily shake themselves awake from living the dream and enjoy Brett Mackenzie’s very real giant leap onto the Oscar red carpet. He’s  a very manly Muppet. A decade of hard work is bearing fruit. Yeah Baby, “It’s business time”. Respect Doy.