Star performers launch inaugural Maori Music Month

Kiwi singer-songwriter Rob Ruha will be working with young singers and musicians during Maori Music Month in August.
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Kiwi singer-songwriter Rob Ruha will be working with young singers and musicians during Maori Music Month in August.

He's won multiple titles at the NZ Music and the Waiata Māori Music awards and now Rob Ruha is joining a host of other singers and songwriters behind an initiative to mentor young up and coming artists.

Ruha, along with Tama Waipara, Maisey Rika and Taisha Tari will head the inaugural Māori Music Month -  Te Marama Pūoru Waiata Māori - in August.

It will include a roadshow of events and workshops in New Zealand and Australia and it will be launched at the National Secondary School Kapa Haka competition in Hawke's Bay on July 28.

Maisey Rika is one of the artists involved in Maori Music Month, during August.
Erica Sinclair

Maisey Rika is one of the artists involved in Maori Music Month, during August.

The workshops will focus on taonga puoro, or traditional Māori music instruments, song writing, song composition and vocal training. There will also be a special focus on turntablism, the art of manipulating sounds and creating music using turntables, led by some of top Maori DJs.

People will have access to the advice and experience of the Māori music stars during consecutive workshops held each week during the month, starting in Wellington, Waikato, Auckland and the Gold Coast.

Ruha, from the East Coast, is recognised as a leader of traditional Māori music. He has a unique style of which has been described as an eclectic mix of soul-roots-reggae with a touch of RnB, rock-blues and jazz.

It's a style is likely to be a big drawcard for young people taking part in Māori Music Month. Ruha immediately thought of the "possibilities" the initiative could generate when he was asked to take a leading role in Māori Music Month.

"Of course as artists, we celebrate and live Māori music all year round but what this enables us to do is provide a concentrated showcase experience for those of the world who may want to explore this dynamic and diverse world of music.

"There is so much to be grateful for and to celebrate in Māori music. There are heaps of opportunities to encourage growth, engagement and development during this month for those in the Māori music industry and those of all generations who aspire to be a part of it."

Rob said agreeing to be part of Maori Music Month was a "no brainer".

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He is passionate about Māori music, the oranga it brings people and its power to touch and move the world.

"Sharing knowledge, experiences and life-lessons with those who are considering a career in Māori music is another passion of mine. All these things align to what I think Māori Music Month will encourage and support."

Rob says he hopes the public will join in on the celebration of good music that comes out of "this great nation of ours".

"Music that is unique to us in language, in presentation, in feel and in world view. And by public I mean Aotearoa and the world."

As part of Maori Music Month, he intends to visit communities and kura to help promote Maori music and to share what it has given to him, his friends, family and iwi.

"I'd like to show people how they can be a part of it and help support it's growth.

"I will be a part of workshops, wānanga, performances, collaborations and jam sessions with those who are keen to share and be a part of them. I am really looking forward to it. Māori Music Month is going to be awesome!"

Māori Music Month is the creation of Ellison Huata who is the executive director of the National Waiata Māori Music Awards, which has been held in Hastings for nine years.

Huata said Māori Music Month would aim to connect young performers with established artists through events planned for each week in August, starting in Wellington, then Auckland, to Waikato and finally the Gold Coast in Australia.

She said Māori Music Month would help generate activity for artists in August each year, bridging the gap between NZ Music Month in May, Matariki in June-July, and the Waiata Māori Awards in September.

Māori Music Month would also help build interest in the 10th anniversary of the Waiata Māori Music Awards in 2017. It would also be a chance to think about how the two events can propel the next generation of artists working in Māori music over the next decade.

"We've decided that it's really going to be a time for us to step up and provide some guidance for our rangatahi who are looking for a career in the music industry," Huata said.

"We know we have a number of artists around the country, and in Australia, but there are also many young people looking to break into the industry, who may not know where to turn for advice or guidance.

"So Māori Music Month will provide a network where we can connect our rangatahi with established artists in their area."

Some of those who take part in the Māori Music Month workshops will be nominated to appear as guest artists at this year's Waiata Maori Music Awards, to be held in Hastings in September.

MAORI MUSIC MONTH LAUNCH

There will be a special VIP-only event to launch Maori Music Month in Hawke's Bay. It will be held at the Pettigrew Green Arena in Taradale on July 28.

It starts at 7.30pm with a concert at 8.30pm, showcasing various Maori music artists. The launch will be held at the conclusion of the National Secondary Schools Kapa Haka event.

MAORI MUSIC MONTH SCHEDULE

August, 1st week Wellington; 2nd week Auckland; 3rd week Waikato; 4th week Gold Coast, Australia.

WAIATA MAORI MUSIC AWARDS & MUSIC EXPO

Expo: Friday, September 9, at the Hawke's Bay Opera House Plaza in Hastings, from 9am to 2pm.

Awards event: Friday, September 9, at the Hastings Sports Arena, from 6pm.

 - Stuff

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