Kiwi reggae legends praise UNESCO's recognition of the genre

When you think of reggae, you think of Bob Marley, and songs that will long be remembered as a powerful voice for oppressed people. 

UNESCO has now recognised the reggae music of Jamaica as a global cultural treasure, acknowledging its contribution to the discussion of pressing social issues, injustice, resistance and love.

In the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, those themes were also addressed through reggae in New Zealand.

Local reggae group Herbs came to represent New Zealand's stance against nuclear weapons in the Pacific. 

And reggae icon Tigilau Ness used music to peacefully protest disputes like land issues, language and the 1981 Springbok Tour. 

He's even held onto his ticket to Bob Marley's concert at Western Springs in Auckland back in 1979.

"Just like what Bob had said, reggae music is a poor people's music," says Ness. "And it will grow and keep growing till it reaches the right people. The right people he was talking about were the oppressed."

Decades on and reggae still holds a special place in this country's music culture.

Popular reggae bands like Katchafire continue to draw big crowds.

Lead singer Logan Bell told Newshub on Friday the genre stands for the same values: love and understanding.

Tigilau Ness, also the father of kiwi artist Che Fu, is still performing today, with many of the same issues at the heart of his music.

"The feeling about land issues and the language, it really was a struggle - it still is - but the music has helped to temper it," he says. 

Reggae: the cultural colonisation that spread its roots all the way from Jamaica to New Zealand