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Brooke Fraser Thanked Music Executive Named in #MeTooNZ Probe

McKessar was stood down at CRS Music following his involvement in an exposé into harassment and abuse of power in the New Zealand music industry in 2021

Brooke Fraser


Content Warning: This article covers sexual harassment incidents. If you or someone you know are affected by the following story, you are not alone. To speak to someone, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

During her Auckland concert last weekend, Brooke Fraser thanked high-profile music executive Paul McKessar, who was named in New Zealand’s #MeToo investigation.

After a seven-year break, Fraser returned to New Zealand for a special one-off show at Spark Arena on Saturday, June 22nd, the Grammy Award-winning artist performing alongside the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (APO) and some special guests, including Georgia Lines.

At one point during the concert, the singer-songwriter specifically mentioned McKessar, who was stood down at CRS Music following his inclusion in an exposé into harassment and abuse of power in the New Zealand music industry in 2021.

“I wanna thank CRS Management… Campbell [Smith] and Paul [McKessar], who are here tonight, have been with me from the very early days,” Fraser told the Spark Arena crowd, which you can watch in a video obtained by Rolling Stone AU/NZ below.

Fraser’s mention of McKessar first came to light through another Aotearoa artist, Lydia Cole, who shared a Facebook post from her sister, Sasha, on her Instagram account.

“My sister was at the enormous Brooke Fraser concert on Saturday and felt compelled to write this. I’m reposting with her permission. For anyone needing context, google Paul McKessar. You’ll find a vague telling of his behaviour, the tip of the iceberg,” Cole wrote, accompanied by screenshots of her sister’s post.

“Like many of you, on Saturday night I had an awesome night in store, anticipating the Brooke Fraser concert witth the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra,” Sasha’s post read.

“As my sister [Lydia] grew in her career, she signed with the same management as Brooke. Years went by. In 2021, Ali Mau investigated allegations of harmful behaviour, sexual harassment, and abuse of power in the music industry.

“In this management company, my sister bravely shared her story. I knew he [McKessar] had stood down. Returned his ‘manager of the year’ award. I thought he had stepped away.

“On Saturday night Brooke thanked him and his exec colleague by name. Thanked them for making the night possible. For giving her a platform to sing to 10,000 plus fans while my sister sits at home unable to meet in groups due to sensory overload, receiving weekly therapy for the PTSD she suffers. I guess he’s back,” she added.

Rolling Stone AU/NZ has reached out to Fraser’s team for comment.

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A post shared by Lydia Cole (@lydiacole)

McKessar was stood down at CRS Music in 2021, following “recent disclosures” that emerged in Stuff about his behaviour.

Campbell Smith shared a statement explaining his dismissal at the time.

“I yesterday stood Paul down from his role at CRS. Paul’s actions – by any measure – fell far short of the standards expected by CRS, our clients and the wider music community. Paul has resigned as a director of CRS,” Smith’s statement read.

“None of this should have happened. I am sorry that I did not ensure we had a robust code of conduct and structure in place at CRS that might have either prevented this or dealt with it seriously and safely. To Possum Plows and Lydia Cole I unreservedly apologise. This should not have happened to you and I am determined to take steps to ensure other artists and people working in our industry are treated with respect.”

McKessar was one of the highest-profile artist managers in the New Zealand music industry, with a string of internationally recognised acts on his CV, including BENEE and The Naked and Famous.

Over the course of its months-long probe, Stuff reporters captured the stories of women and non-binary people in the local industry who’d experienced sexual harassment and exploitation. Openside lead singer Possum Plows and Cole spoke out about their troubling experiences with McKessar over the past decade.

Smith apologised to Plows and Cole and promised change at his company. An independent specialist investigator was also hired, according to his statement, to conduct a thorough review of its workplace practices and corporate culture.

After the scandal broke, McKessar returned the Manager of the Year award he won at the 2021 Aotearoa Music Awards.

As per Stuff, McKessar posted an apology on social media in January 2021. “I am truly sorry for the pain I caused Possum and Lydia. There’s no excuse for crossing professional boundaries,” he wrote.

“I am continuing the personal work required to be a better and more accountable member of the music community. I also appreciate it shouldn’t take a brave stance to enact change, and I hope theirs brings more progress to our entire community. I wholeheartedly apologise to them both.”

Additional reporting by Poppy Reid.