I borrowed An Ordinary Joker: the Life & Songs of Peter Cape from the library on Saturday. It’s a collection of biographical pieces, his poetry and a CD of him performing some of his songs. Cape wrote a variety of pieces in the gap between the the Second World War and the rise of global communications when New Zealand was beginning to struggle with its own self-identity in the world. Some of these have entered into Kiwi culture including “Taumarunui (on the Main Trunk Line)” and “She’ll be right”. Cape was a writer, poet, actor, musician, priest, journalist and producer among other things and the book talks about those sides to his life.
The NZ FOLK SONG site has this to say (as well as links to lyrics and scores)
(JA) Peter Cape is best known for his songs ‘Taumaranui On The Main Trunk Line’ and ‘She’ll Be Right Mate.’ He was the voice of those rural New Zealand men who had been transplanted to the big city suburbs. He expressed their yearning for that lost way of life with its physical and emotional simplicity, where men may have been socially inept, but were proud of being physically self reliant.
Personally his poem “Trinity” and the New Zealand Christmas poem/song “Nativity” are my favourites.