Tag Archives: Polynesian music

New Single from Te Vaka’s Olivia Foa’i

Olivia Foa’i’ – “My Way

Olivia Foa’i’s 2nd single “My Way” goes back to her Polynesian roots while still maintaining a mainstream feel. A bilingual Tokelauan-English track, “My Way” displays a unique balance between tribal and pop, produced by her brother (master percussionist of Te Vaka and composer of “Te Vaka Beats”) Matatia Foa’i.

No stranger to the stage or studio, Olivia has performed in 40 countries and featured on several tracks over Te Vaka’s 9 albums.

In 2017 she was nominated for “Best Pacific Female Artist” and won “Best Pacific Language Song” (for Tulou Tagaloa from the Moana soundtrack) in the Pacific Music Music Awards. Later in 2017 came the band’s latest hit, “Lakalaka” which was released through Walt Disney Records with a music video directed, choreographed and performed by Olivia.


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: Matato’a


Matato’a is a Chilean music and dance group from Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in the Pacific. The name of the group means The Warriors. It performs a combination of rock music with Rapa Nui, Polynesian and Latino styles.

The intention of the musicians is to promote and preserve the ancestral traditions, the dances, the costumes, and the body paintings of Easter Island through traditional and modern music. Acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards and bass are mixed with traditional percussion, ukulele, harmonica, and traditional instruments such as stones, horse jaws, big drums, etc. Matato’a has recorded four CDs, three on its own label and a compilation for a New Caledonian imprint.


Fusion Natura (2005)