A skatepark, a broken scooter and not a dairy to see – that was the scene where the Kiwi story was written.
Filmmaker Colin Evans was filming skateboarders at the local Fairfield skatepark in Dunedin when he captured the moment that catapulted Levi Hawken to stardom.
“Levi is a funny guy,” says Evans. “He sort of spat it all out, and I was like, ‘No way, brother.’ I had no idea it was going to go viral, it was just f …… funny. “
If you haven’t guessed it yet, this is when Hawken was filmed saying, “Left my scooter in front of the dairy, nek minnit …”
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Various clips of Hawken’s slogan have been uploaded to the internet, and they have been viewed millions of times since the first was posted on YouTube, without permission from Hawken or Evans, in September 2011.
Evans had made a skateboarding video on the South Island called South in Your Mouth the year before, and it was then distributed free along with copies of Manual magazine.
A nine-second clip of Hawken lamenting the broken scooter was ripped from the DVD, which had taken Evans, then Oamaru-based, about two years and uploaded to YouTube.
Evans then messaged the person who uploaded the video, which he said generated more than $ 10,000 in advertising revenue on the clip. But soon countless more nek minnit clips appeared.
“This is my clip,” says Evans, who has his own 12-second version on YouTube.
Evans, now based in Sydney and running a finance company specializing in heavy machinery loans, says he now has a different take on the issue.
While the video could have been monetized, including bringing in a lawyer to settle the rights, it was too little too late once it went viral. “Lots of companies made money and used the branding.”
Evans believes the success of the clip can be attributed to Hawken’s energy and personality. “She’s a really super genuine person.”
But monetizing that hilarious moment seemed a long way from the day he was filming skateboards in a skate park and “just having a good time.”
Evans said the video was uniquely integrated into New Zealand street culture and came from poverty.
Levi Hawken rose to fame for his slogan “nek minnit” in 2011. (Video posted January 2016)
Some people didn’t get the joke, while others made mean comments about Hawken’s appearance.
Hawken suffers from ectodermal dysplasia, which affects his physical appearance.
He spoke about the rare genetic disorder and the “nek minnit” video in the 2019 Loadings Docs: Mememe documentary.
Hawken, who lives in Auckland, was approached by Thing about the clip’s 10th anniversary, but declined to comment.
Evans understands his reluctance. “The only problem this really caused anyone was with Levi. No one else was negatively affected by this.
“I would like to think it paid him more dividends than it took him away.”
He remembers walking with Hawken in Auckland a few years ago, when a passing man shouted at him from the window.
“This is what I get now … people are yelling at me.”
Evans, although he left New Zealand ten years ago, has not escaped the use of “nek minnit”.
He used to tell people that he filmed the clip, but “now I’m letting him lie,” he says. “It doesn’t really matter.”
The site of one of the most famous viral moments in New Zealand history looks almost identical a decade later. There is still no dairy to see, and there is no broken scooter.
But part of the old skateboard park is secret, awaiting a makeover.
Dr Olivier Jutel, University of Otago professor of media, film and communication, said Hawken was a “legend” in the New Zealand skateboard scene, long before he came to Dunedin and video.
Jutel is also an avid skater and has been involved in the work behind the new skateboard park in Fairfield.
It was unlikely that this would include a plaque to mark the birth of the nek minnit music video, but it was hoped that Hawken, who is an artist, could be involved.