The weekend that was: One Love Festival feature

By Jessica Tyson
Sammy J performs on stage at One Love 2018. Source: One Love Festival, Facebook.

The One Love Festival held in Tauranga over the weekend was a great success with more than 18,000 tickets sold in its seventh year running.

Although the festival is done and dusted for the year, thousands of concert-goers will surely be looking through their social media feeds to reminisce about memories made with friends and whānau.

Māori Television's Rereātea team attended the two-day festival and have compiled some epic One Love highlights:

Rāhoroi – Saturday

The gates opened on Saturday and thousands spilled into Tauranga Domain to enjoy the sweet tunes of the Aotearoa’s favourite reggae acts.

Highlights included performances from Ardijah, as well as Tomorrow People who released their newest EP featuring the tri-lingual version of their single Don't Wanna Fight It in Māori, Samoan and English.

Tomorrow People lead singer Marcus Abraham says the band, made up of Samoan and Māori members, started singing songs in te reo Māori to support the revitalisation of the language.

“With all the positive Māori songs out there at the moment we kind of wanted to jump on board and help the momentum,” says Marcus.

“It was just our way in kind of getting behind our reo, being proud Māori, and also just reassuring people that we can listen to te reo Māori songs on the radio,” says Marcus.

Tomorrow People perform their new tri-lingual song Poly Reo at One Love 2018.

The sun was blazing on Saturday as temperatures reached a high of 26 degrees.

To help combat the heat people were allowed to enter with empty spray-bottles. Giant water guns were strategically placed in the venue to help cool down the masses.

People dressed up in their best reggae outfits at One Love 2018. 

As the sun went down Kora hit the stage and got everyone up on their feet to have a kanikani

Common Kings ended the show with one of their most popular songs, Wade in Your Water.  Unfortunately, concert-goers were trying to exit the venue early to avoid traffic congestion midway through Common Kings' set.

Rātapu – Sunday

Day two of the festival opened with a bang with performances from Sammy J, Three Houses Down, General Fiyah, Maimoa Music, 1814 and Katchafire.

A crowd favourite was Stan Walker (Tauranga Moana) who performed on the weekend for the first time in six months, following recent health issues.

Stan told Rereātea that it felt good to be back on stage. His performance was full of energy as he danced alongside his crew throughout a number of his hit songs.

The crowd especially went crazy when Stan sang Aotearoa with Sunday's One Love co-host, Ria Hall.

General Fiyah says his brother is one of his biggest supporters.

Another highlight was 11-year-old General Fiyah who performed with Three Houses Down.

General showed off his dancing skills by imitating his favourite singers, Michael Jackson and Bruno Mars, with a moonwalk and by singing a cover of one of Bruno Mars’ songs.

11-year-old General Fiyah rocked the stage at One Love 2018. 

RnB singer Sammy Johnson, who has performed at the festival every year since One Love started, says the event is definitely getting bigger.

“It’s a lot more organised than last year. Just the way that everything runs. I think they’ve got it right now.”

Sammy J, of Ngāti Maniapoto descent, is currently living in East Hollywood.

“It’s interesting, everyone thinks I’m Mexican. I’ve been living there for about three years now.”

Tomorrow People singer Hamo Dell and reggae singer Sammy Johnson backstage at One Love 2018. 

Sammy says it was good to be home in Aotearoa for the festival after recently releasing his new EP Sleepwalker.

Katchafire, who stepped in at the last minute for Shaggy, ended the festival on a high singing Bob Marley's smash hit One Love

Katchafire ended the festival on a high singing Bob Marley's smash hit One Love. 

Māori culture a favourite for international acts

International act Spawnbreezie from Kansas City says his favourite part about performing at the annual festival is being surrounded by the Māori culture.

“It’s a beautiful thing. If anything that’s one of the biggest reasons why I love Aotearoa," he explains.

“Last year we did the haka and I was so nervous I wasn’t sure how they were going to receive it. I thought I messed up but they received it well. It’s humbling.”

Spawnbreezie said he was grateful to be invited to perform at the last minute. after Shaggy pulled out.

Guitarist Mark Pellizzer, from Canadian band Magic! says learning about the Māori culture is “fascinating”.

“I feel like, in some way, it’s the route of all the Polynesian cultures. I'm no expert in that field but I’m just so happy to learn and I feel like it’s an enriched country because it has such interesting history.”

Mark says his band, well known for their songs Rude and Red Dress, is planning collaborations with Common Kings and hopes to return to New Zealand.

“We’d love to come back. We’d probably even live here. This is amazing.”

Thousands of reggae music lovers at One Love 2018.

Festival promoter, Pato Alvarez says people as far as America, Germany, France, from the islands and Australia travelled to attend the festival this year.

"When I created it I wanted to show Aotearoa Reggae music to the world.  I think that we have some of the best reggae musicians ever and I wanted to push them overseas." 

Alvarez confirmed that the festival will be returning to Tauranga for 2019.