Modern Maori Quartet celebrate Matariki with new music

The Modern Maori Quartet have been together for five years.
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ

The Modern Maori Quartet have been together for five years.

 When the Modern Maori Quartet hit the stage to celebrate Matariki Festival in June, audiences will be treated to some of their new music.

The foursome have spent the past year writing, recording and producing their debut album That's Us, due to be released in September.

Locked away in the middle of nowhere last year, it took two weeks for the band to write the 12-track album, including new singles Mareikura and The Kai Song.

The Modern Maori Quartet, left to right, Maaka Pohatu, Francis Kora, Matariki Whatarau, and James Tito.
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The Modern Maori Quartet, left to right, Maaka Pohatu, Francis Kora, Matariki Whatarau, and James Tito.

Made up of James Tito, Maaka Pohatu, Matariki Whatarau and Francis Kora, the quartet is known for its modern covers of Maori waiata, show band hits and pop music.

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That's Us is their first foray into writing original music, and Whatarau says those two weeks of writing with no distractions was a great process.

Known for their covers of Maori waiata and pop hits, That's Us is the band's first foray into originals.
Supplied

Known for their covers of Maori waiata and pop hits, That's Us is the band's first foray into originals.

"It wasn't like drawing blood out of a stone. Stuff kept flowing and it was a really supportive environment," Whatarau says.

"It inspired us and got us excited about what we write and we're definitely hoping to write another album."

Modern Maori Quartet have been together for five years and have spent that time touring New Zealand and the world, as well as hosting their own show on Maori TV.

Their new album is musically inspired by country rock artists like Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles, as well as Maori songs and R'n'B influences.

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It's hard to nail down one vibe, Whatarau says, with the band being influenced by their fathers and their garage parties.

He says there's definitely a lot of songs on the album inspired by love, be it romantic or otherwise.

"At the time all the boys were wrestling with ... it's a big part of us, aroha, and different forms of aroha ... it comes out throughout the whole album."

In June, the foursome will hit the road as part of Matariki on the Move, performing around Auckland, including at RSAs in south Auckland.

It's a chance for them to promote their new music as well as dedicate time to remember soldiers.

"Playing RSAs is something we've never done before ... hopefully we can do these songs justice and audiences will walk away with a sense of nostalgia.

"We haven't played in many of these places before so we're pretty excited to be able to share our love of music with different audiences."

Modern Maori Quartet is performing at Papakura RSA on June 22 and at Manurewa RSA on June 23.

The concerts are free and all-ages, and begin at 7pm. For more information go to matarikifestival.org.nz/2017/matariki-on-the-move-waiata

 - Stuff

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