Normalising tikanga Māori through music

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Ria Hall is breaking through to mainstream and normalising Māori protocols through her performance. She opened the Splore festival this weekend with a uniquely Māori feel.

“I'm here to represent Māori first and foremost. To represent our people, my tribes, my seas, my family and many marae. Secondly, I stand to represent women," says Ria Hall.

She explains that it's important for Māori artists to break through the noise with Māori music.

"To me, it's about putting our own songs in the centre, which will open up to those watching and listening while we perform."

Ria's debut album Rules of Engagement was released late in 2017 and went number 1 in the Top 40 New Zealand Album Charts.

The album features kōrero about the battles of Pukehinahina and Te Ranga from an interview conducted in 1968 with her grandfather's older brother Turirangi Te Kani from Ngāi Te Rangi and Te Whānau-a-Apanui who was one of the founding members of the Waitangi Tribunal.

“He was one who put the challenged to us. Who will take up that challenge? Well, we will.”

For Ria Hall, inspiration is close to home.

“Singers from New Zealand, Betty-Anne Monga, Annie Crummer and my friends Hollie Smith, Maisey Rika, Rob Ruha, all of them have paved the way in this path,” she says.

Her hope is that the music she performs will be instilled in the souls of those who hear it.