After touring in support of Neil and Tim Finn, Runga issued a follow-up single, "Bursting Through," followed in 1997 by the Top Ten smash "Sway." Her self-produced debut LP, Drive, appeared later that same year and garnered New Zealand's top music awards. In the late '90s, Runga spent some time based in New York City, where she began writing songs for her follow-up album. She continued to work on new songs after returning to New Zealand, and embarked on a tour of the country with Tim Finn and Dave Dobbyn in August and September 2000, resulting in the 2001 release Together in Concert: Live. Runga's Beautiful Collision hit stores in 2002; it was released internationally, and went platinum four times in New Zealand, inspiring a re-release with a bonus disc the following year; it eventually would be certified platinum ten times.
In 2003, Runga founded the Nu Shoo record label before kicking off another tour. She delivered Birds, her sequel to Beautiful Collision, in 2005; it debuted at number one on the New Zealand charts and was certified triple platinum. Runga took an extended break after Birds, during which time she released the rarities collection Try to Remember Everything in 2008, before returning in 2011 with Belle. The compilation Anthology arrived in 2012. After a five-year break, she delivered the covers album Close Your Eyes in 2016. Around its release, Runga was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame. ~ Jason Ankeny & Joslyn Layne, Rovi