Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Meet the People - 1
The first in my new series Meet the People – Contemporary Maori Doing Ordinary and Extraordinary Things - Wellington-based Maori songwriter and vocalist, Toni Huata (Ngati Kahungunu, Rongowhakaata) has blazed a successful trail through the music world at concert and festival performances nationally and internationally. Armed with a music degree from Whitireia Polytechnic in Porirua, Wellington, she became a member of Te Rakau Hua O Te Wao Tapu touring theatre company headed by Jim Moriarty in 1995. She’s since toured throughout USA, Europe, Asia and the Pacific; she’s performed with the Neville Brothers in USA; and she was the first Maori to ever perform at the world renowned jazz club, Ronnie Scotts in London. Brought up in the Hawke’s Bay, Toni attended the famous Turakina Maori Girls’ College and says she was always surrounded by an eclectic array of influences – the Anglican Church choir, tap dancing and Maori cultural performance. Her debut album “Te Maori e” released in 2001, is a reflection of that. A fusion of jazz, jungle, flamenco, classical, dub poi and traditional waiata, it is dedicated to her grandparents, the late Te Okanga Kahutapere (Aussie) Huata and Ngaro Rangi-Huata. The theme for the album was built around the song “Te Maori e,” composed by her grandfather for the Te Maori exhibition in 1986.
Toni Huata @ PAO Wellington. Photo Supplied by Toni Huata
Recognised as an accomplished singer/songwriter, dancer, voice expert, actor and an inspirational ambassador of Maori Language, Toni also has her own entertainment business, WaaHuu Creations that provides production services and tuition in theatre, music and dance with the aim of enhancing the exposure of Maori in performing arts, language and culture. Toni’s music reflects her deep spiritual roots – a result of being raised within the traditions of Maori culture, song and her whakapapa (geneology). She confidently blends both Maori and non-Maori worlds and in drawing on the past she hopes to pave the way to new sounds of the future. “Werohia – Challenge yourself,” she says. “Pass the limits…grasp an idea and enter into it.” Toni’s second album, “Mauri To – Everlasting Force” was released in 2004. www.tonihuata.com