Tag Archives: New Zealand

Wai Safeguards Maori traditions at Rainforest World Music Festival 2019

Wai at the Rainforest World Music Festival 2019: Maaka Phat, Uta Te Whanga and Mina Ripia – Photo by Angel Romero

Maori family band Wai performed an emotional set of songs on Sunday, July 14, 2019 at the Rainforest World Music Festival. The band from Aotearoa (New Zealand) played at the Theatre Stage.

Although Wai is known for successfully combining electronics with traditional music, the performance at the Rainforest World Music Festival was acoustic, showcasing the vocal talents of Mina Ripia and Maaka Fiso accompanied by guitar and percussion.

Wai released a critically acclaimed album titled Ora in 2010.

Wai at the Rainforest World Music Festival 2019: Maaka Fiso – Photo by Angel Romero

The core of Wai is Mina Ripia and Maaka Phat. Wai now includes their 11-year-old son Uta Te Whanga on percussion and vocals and new member Maaka Fiso, a truly gifted male vocalist whose style could be defined as Maori soul.


Artist Profiles: Whirimako Black

Whirimako Black

Whirimako Black was born in 1961 in Whakatane, New Zealand. Whirimako’s distinctive sound, her lyrics in te reo Maori, her use of traditional Maori musical forms and collaboration with traditional taonga puoro instruments make her a unique and powerful voice for Maori music and culture.

She received the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to Maori music in the 2006 New Years Honours list.


Hinepukohurangi: Shrouded in the Mist (Muscle Music, 2000)
Hohou Te Rongo: Cultivate Peace (Mai Music, 2003)
Tangihaku (Mai Music, 2004)
Kura Huna (Mai Music, 2005)
Soul Sessions (Mai Music, 2006)
Whirimako Black Sings (Mai Music, 2007)
The Late Night Plays (Ode Records)
Te More (2012)


Artist Profiles: Te Vaka

Te Vaka

Te Vaka is a unique 12 piece Polynesian group that has enchanted the world with the music, costume and dance of the South Pacific since. From timeless roots in Polynesia, Te Vaka has incorporated contemporary influences to create something which is different, refreshing and exciting.

Te Vaka was formed in 1994. Opetaia Foa’i is the songwriter/ lead vocalist of the group. The inspiration for his music comes from his multi-cultural upbringing – half Tokelauan, half Tuvaluan, born in Samoa and bought up in a Tokelauan community in New Zealand. Opetaia’s musical background spans both the traditional and the diverse influences of contemporary metropolitan culture.

During 1995-1996, band members Manase Foa’i, Daniel Foa’i, Alana Foa’i and Andrew Dukeson joined the group. Te Vaka toured New Zealand performing “Original, Contemporary Pacific Music” and dance to delighted and inspired audiences.

Between 1996 and 1997 Dancers Etueni Pita, Simona Hope, Triana Ama and David Hope joined along with keyboardist/ producer Malcolm Smith and Lutila Kololo on vocals.

The first Te Vaka album was completed and signed to ARC Music for worldwide distribution. Te Vaka continued to tour New Zealand. The group became acknowledged as the only band in New Zealand who could lay claim to “Original, Contemporary, Pacific Music”.

In 1997, the Papa e music video was made – receiving good airplay on New Zealand TV. That same year, in March, Te Vaka performed at the first WOMAD festival in New Zealand with a 14 piece band. They impressed the public and music industry and received many offers to perform in New Zealand as well as internationally. In May of 1997 the – First Te Vaka album entitled Te Vaka released in over 80 countries, becoming one of ARC Music’s all time best selling albums.

In June of 1997 the band embarked on its first 12 week tour of the UK and Europe. They were named the “stars” of the WOMAD festival in Morecambe Bay, Lancashire, UK. The band, now 10 piece for touring, included Opetaia, Sulata, Luavasa, Alana, Manase, Daniel, Andrew, Neil, Simon and Edwin as the permanent members of the band.

In 1998 the band showcased at the SXSW music conference in Austin, Texas, resulting in many offers to return to the United States. That same year, Te Vaka embarked on a 20 week tour of Europe and UK. After the first performance of the tour, at the WOMAD Festival in C?ceres, Spain, to ecstatic audiences, Te Vaka was invited to record at Real World Studios for a release on the WOMAD Select label. The rest of the tour was overwhelmingly successful with many invitations to return.

In 1999, Te Vaka visited Australia for the first time, performing at WOMADELAIDE. The group’s second music video, Lua Ate (released in 2000) was taped in April. Te Vaka?s second album, Ki Mua, was released that same year.

New band member Vai Mahina replaced Sulata Foa’i for the Ki Mua presentation tour. The reputation of Te Vaka was spreading far and wide, from Estonia and Poland to Scotland and Wales.

In May of 2000, Te Vaka embarked on its fourth successful 12 week world tour. Beginning in May with a sell out tour of Fiji, where Te Vaka has been at the top of the charts for some time, the band continued on to Europe, UK and America. New band member Karika Turua added powerful bass guitar while Sulata Foa’i Amiatu rejoined the band to double the vocal power for the tour.

The third album, Nukukehe, released in May 2002, gained the group a nomination in Best Roots category in the New Zealand music awards. The 4th album Tutuki, entered the European World Music Charts at no. 4. It won a Tui for ?Best Pacific Music Album? in the New Zealand music awards.

Te Vaka’s Opetaia Foa’i speaks about his music and inspiration: “I was fortunate to have grown up in a place where I was exposed to Tokelauan, Tuvaluan and Samoan (Tokelau, Tuvalu & Samoa are islands in the South Pacific Ocean) traditional music and dance. This was the music that captured my heart and I grew to love it. Arriving in New Zealand at the age of nine, I was further exposed to other styles of music, for example: Jimi Hendrix and Joan Armatrading were two of my favorite artists.

I am now at a point in my life where I feel my musical journey has come full circle. I have purposefully returned the guitar to open tuning as that was how I originally played it in Samoa. I’ve also used a Polynesian language (Tokelau) to express different aspects of Polynesia in the most honest and natural way I can. Although I speak English, Samoan and Tuvaluan as well, I was brought up in a Tokelauan community and I found this to be the most comfortable language for my song writing.

My main source of inspiration comes from speaking to the old people and extracting information passed to them by their parents. This valuable information is then put into music and preserved for the coming generations to appreciate. This is a very important part of my writing. It is very fortunate that my music is appreciated by people from many cultural backgrounds here in New Zealand and internationally. It appears that the language is not a barrier and the music communicates all by itself, supported by the fact that I have achieved a worldwide distribution with my first album. Many celebrity musicians have made comments on the potential of the Pacific including Quincey Jones when he visited New Zealand a few years ago. He was quoted as saying something to the effect of, “The next great musical movement to impress the world will come from the Pacific.” I feel this statement has a lot of truth in it and if Te Vaka can be part of a group of artists working to achieve or make that prediction come true then I will not only feel privileged but very satisfied at achieving much of my goal as a Polynesian artist.”

In 2015, the band was chosen by Walt Disney Pictures to contribute to the soundtrack of the 2016 animated film Moana.


Pacific Music (ARC Music, 1997)
Te Vaka (Warm Earth Records, 1997)
Ki Mua (Warm Earth Records, 1999)
Nukukehe (Warm Earth Records, 2002)
Tutuki (Warm Earth Records, 2004)
Olatia (Spirit Of Play Productions, 2007)
Amataga (2015)
Te Vaka Beats: Percussion Album Vol. 1 (2017)
Greatest Hits Songs That Inspired Moana (Walt Disney Records, 2017)


Artist Profiles: Moana Maniapoto

Moana Maniapoto – Photo by Angel Romero

Moana Maniapoto has consistently pushed the boundaries of Maori music with her unique mix of traditional Maori musical elements and contemporary western grooves. Her band Moana and the Tribe tour throughout the world and are one of the most successful indigenous bands to emerge from New Zealand.

Moana is supported by a collective of talented performers including two acoustic guitarists, female vocalists, a troop of male ‘warriors’ (including some of the best haka performers in New Zealand) and a team of film-makers. The Tribe’ includes Ihu Waka (Reweti Te Mete, Paora Sharpies and Scottie Morrison), as well as guitarist Cadzow Cossar and bass player Pete Hoera. Taonga puoro player Rangi Rangitukunoa is also a rapper and breakdancer. Vocalists Aminra Renti and Trina Maniapoto support Moana in song.

Moana & the Tribe fuse Maori instruments, chants and beats with pacific rhythms, then combine it up with soul, reggae and funk to produce a multi-genre cross-pollination of traditional and contemporary culture. Taonga puoro (traditional Maori instruments) had almost disappeared from Maori culture. Over forty have now been identified and some have been recorded for the very first time, courtesy of Moana and her musicians. These instruments, traditional chants and the haka (a war-like dance) are incorporated into Moana’s music, providing a spectacular accompaniment to modern beats. Tauparapara (traditional chanting) replaces rap.

Moana & the Tribe sing about land and people and present their songs in Maori as well as in English. They speak of a connection to Papatuanuku (Mother Earth), of justice, the importance of language and traditions. They talk about the traditional “moko” (tattooing of face and body), about the Maoris’ struggle for land but also about spirituality, prophecies and traditional bonds and touch on a variety of political and social issues, that are universal. Moana’s albums and her live performances are expressions of rare beauty and a stunning combination of traditional and contemporary culture.

Moana and the Tribe leading a workshop at the Rainforest World Music Festival – Photo by Angel Romero

Moana’s lyrics reflect the Maori spiritual, cultural and political reality. She is a singer and songwriter, but also draws inspiration from her rich life as a documentary-maker, writer and political activist. Despite being inspired from her own culture, Moana’s songs strike a chord with every audience. Her message is universal: Mana Maori – Pride in being Maori, Mana Wahine – Respect for women, and Mana Tangata – Respect for all humanity.

She is a lawyer, musician, songwriter and has worked as a TV host. Moana was admitted to the Bar in 1984 and has worked to empower Maori and community groups with information about the legal system and processes.

In June 2003 Moana & the Tribe returned, to promote the European release of their DVD Live & Proud, which was launched in Berlin. The group completed a series of 36 concerts over seven weeks throughout Holland, Austria, Switzerland, Germany culminating with four performances at the Olympic Festival of Sacred Song and Dance – the Cultural Olympiad in Greece. Moana & the Tribe represented New Zealand performing in Patras, Kalamata, Athens and on the ancient site of Olympia. The group participated alongside representatives from 28 nations including Paco Pe?a (Spain) and the Shaolin Monks (China).

Moana & the Tribe sang also at the media launch of New Zealand feature film The Whale Rider in Cologne and promoted the movie at their concerts. Once again in 2003 the band staked their biggest claim in Germany and gained a whole new league of fans: “People that come to our [ concerts tell us that they relate to the feeling – even if they can’t understand English or Maori,? says Moana. ?Some come to four or five shows during our tour and we move across some big distances pretty quickly so that kinda blows us away.”

In February of 2004 she won the 2003 International Songwriting Competition (ISC) for her world music song “Moko.” The winning song “Moko,” is a compelling fusion of smooth world music and an urban sound with earthy, international beats.”


Toru (Pirate Records, 2005)
Wha (Ode Records, 2008)
Acoustic (Rajon, 2010)
Rima (Black Pearl, 2014)


Artist Profiles: Hollie Smith

Hollie Smith

Singer-songwriter Hollie Smith is a leading vocalist in the New Zealand music scene. She has collaborated with Trinity Roots, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Don McGlashan, One Million Dollars, Anika Moa and Boh Runga.

Hollie Smith has a deep, rich and soulful singing style. Hollie’s wide range of musical influences combine elements of soul, jazz, reggae, Celtic and R&B.


Light From a Distant Shore (Etherean, 1999)
Long Player (Soundsmith, 2007)
Humour and the Misfortune of Others (Soundsmith, 2010)
Band of Brothers Vol. 1 (Soundsmith, 2011)
Peace of Mind (Civic, 2013)
Water or Gold (Soundsmith, 2016)


Traditional and Modern Sounds from the Pacific

Various Artists - Discover Music from the Pacific with ARC Music (Arc Music, 2016)
Various Artists – Discover Music from the Pacific with ARC Music (Arc Music, 2016)

Discover Music from the Pacific with ARC Music gives the listener an opportunity to learn more about the music from the various islands of the Pacific Ocean. The compilation combines field recordings by David Fanshawe, including recordings of surf and other natural sounds as well as traditional music chants; along with contemporary studio recordings.

The best known act on the album is Te Vaka, an excellent band representing Tokelau and other Pacific Islands. They have traveled throughout the world, showcasing their mix of pop, folk and spectacular island percussion numbers.

Another familiar name is Hawaii’s Harry Kalapana, who plays the twangy traditional slack key guitar.

Islands represented include Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Hawaii, Tahiti, the Marquesas Islands, and Easter Island.

The CD booklet provides additional details about each track and the islands.

Discover Music from the Pacific is a likeable exploration of the vocal and percussion styles in the Pacific Ocean island communities.

Buy Discover Music from the Pacific with ARC Music