Concert planned for Malawi

Moana Leota is taking ukuleles to Africa to hand out and teach children.
Moana Leota is taking ukuleles to Africa to hand out and teach children.

When a plane touches down in Malawi this time next month, Wellington teenager Moana Leota will be an odd sight in an already colourful country.

As other visitors flip through their guide books, the 13-year-old singer will be hauling a bag containing 10 ukuleles.

But first the St Catherine's College pupil needs to raise more than $6000 for the flight.

She will get a big boost this weekend with a fundraising show that will feature her, Little Bushman's Warren Maxwell and Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra's Steve Jessup.

Moana plans to spend a month in Malawi, visiting her grandparents, who were like "second parents", as well as distributing the ukuleles to schoolchildren, then teaching them to play them.

She had hoped to get to Malawi with her mother next month, but the cost initially put her off.

"My aunty came back and showed me some pictures. They were amazing and I just thought I had to go ...

"Just the way they live and the colour and the atmosphere and the markets." Moana says she grew up singing, but in primary school was too shy to sing in front of crowds, and would stand with a microphone behind the other pupils on stage.

Last year she suddenly found she could face the crowds. Since then she has been hooked up to sing in a song performed by Maxwell, a family friend, in an Interislander commercial.

She also sang Christmas carols to a crowd of up to 2000 at Government House this summer.

She was also a lead performer in a Fringe Festival show, Fatu Na Toto, earlier this month

DETAILS See Moana Leota, Warren Maxwell, Steve Jessup and others perform at 8.30pm on Saturday at Old St Paul's, Thorndon. Tickets $12 to $22 from iticket.co.nz or at the door.

The Dominion Post