‘Feels pretty surreal’ - Common Unity opening One Love

By Jessica Tyson
Common Unity 2016. Photo source: Common Unity, Facebook

It’s a dream come true for reggae band Common Unity who’ve been chosen to open New Zealand’s biggest reggae festival One Love, today in Tauranga.

Common Unity, based out of Ohakune, is made up of all Māori, family members from the foothills of Mount Ruapehu, down the Whanganui River and out to Ratana Pā.

Lead vocalist Kayz Lucas says they made plans three years ago to make the lineup.

“To have this dream come true and come to fruition has elevated our thinking in terms as to what we’re actually capable of. So we’re real excited for this and real humbled for this as well so, bless.”

When they take to the stage at midday today, they’ll be performing in front of their biggest audience yet.

“We’ve done East Coast Vibes the last couple of years but One Love is definitely the epitome of reggae in New Zealand so it’s definitely our biggest stage.”

He says the group is celebrating their 10-year anniversary this year and at One Love they plan to celebrate by playing an original set and “a couple of new songs”.

“We can’t wait to play those on the big stage for the first time because they’ve only been done in private gigs for whānau, he says.

“When we’re up on that stage we try to portray our love for the people and for the music and for what we believe in.”

He says having the love and support from their whānau is one of their biggest drivers to success.

“We’ve always had real big support from back home hence the reason we haven’t had to go anywhere from our small communities,” he says.

“Ngāti Rangi, that’s where we’re based, under the maunga. But as the saying goes, 'E rere kau mai te awa nui mai te Kāhui Maunga ki Tangaroa, ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au'. We are all connected by that whakapapa right there from the mountains to the sea.”

Lucas says after One Love they plan to release a new single or EP and tour the South Island.

“There’s definitely big plans to get around the motu spreading the message we bring.”

The band is made up of members Kayz Lucas, lead vocalalist; Marino Akapita, BV; Riwaru Tihema and Kereama Irimana, keys; Neha Kaire, bass guitar; Karipa Wall, lead guitar; Tahupotiki Pikimaui, Ben Thompson and Paora brass line ;and Pauro Mareikura on drums.