Moana and the Moahunters to receive award at Taite Music Prize

By Heta Gardiner

Moana and the Moahunters will be awarded the Independent Music NZ (IMNZ) Classic Record Award for their 1993 album Tahi at this year’s Taite Music Prize awards.

This acknowledgement comes 26 years after the album’s release, and singer Moana Maniapoto (Tuhourangi-Ngati Wahiao, Ngati Pikiao, Ngati Te Rangiita) told Te Ao, that “It came as a shock, a big surprise”.

In 1993, Māori instruments and Māori cultural elements were seldom seen in mainstream music.  Maniapoto recalls getting support from her non-Māori producers to take a Māori approach to the album.

"They put me with Pākehā producers.  These were people that are excited about fusing dance music and haka and te reo and taonga puoro, things that I was interested in.  They never rolled their eyes once when I said ‘Hey! Let’s go to Kowhai intermediate and sample some kids doing the poi.’  I would lay it all out and they would say, ‘Oh that’s a good idea!’."

This is just the latest acknowledgement for Maniapoto, who was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2016.

She fondly recalls putting together perhaps her most well-known album.  

“We put the reo out there, we put taonga puoro, and haka out there.  We mixed it up with hip-hop. We pulled genres from all over the place, but really it was about saying 'We’re Māori, we’re here, and damn this is fun!'”

The Taite Music Prize awards will be held on the 16th of April in Auckland.