Supported by the Maori broadcasting funding agency, Te Mangai Paho, the self-titled debut album – ‘MANEA’ – is a collection of 10 Maori language songs by Amomai (producer, lyricist and lead vocals), Selwyn (melody composer and lyricist), Hemi (lyricist and lead vocals), Atarangi (lyricist and support vocals) and Ani-Piki (melody arranger and support vocals).
As members of Manea, the five friends from Auckland draw on a range of skills and experiences as live performers, journalists, radio broadcasters and television producers. Their main motivation, however, is a commitment to creativity and excellence in the Maori language which was nurtured during their school years together at a kura kaupapa Maori (Maori immersion school) in west Auckland.
Amomai and Hemi are former members of Maori pop group Aria where their interest in contemporary Maori music was first fostered along with their aspirations to produce a Maori language album. For the past nine years, four of the Manea ensemble – Amomai, Selwyn, Hemi and Atarangi – have been members of traditional Maori performing arts troop Nga Tumanako.
Selwyn became the youngest composer of lyrics and music in the history of the prestigious Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival when Nga Tumanako performed his choral composition at last year’s Maori performing arts competition. Meanwhile, the fifth member of Manea, Ani-Piki, is an active participant in rival kapa haka group Whangara-Mai-Tawhiti from the East Coast.
Now the kapa haka exponents are on a mission to top the charts with their debut album.
Amomai says the contemporary tunes on ‘MANEA’ with be a source of new material for the iwi radio network and their listeners. It is also hoped that the songs will have an even wider appeal beyond Maori radio to audiences worldwide with an appetite for well-crafted Maori language music.
“Our music speaks openly and honestly about the different facets of life – from love to overcoming adversity to simple pleasures such as a good night out with friends,” explains Amomai. “The intention is to make music that appeals to many different people by providing something for them to relate to.”
‘MANEA’ is distributed by Ode Records (www.oderecords.co.nz) and available on iTunes (www.apple.com/nz/itunes/), Amplifier (www.amplifier.co.nz) and for those living in NZ, it will be available in stores from Monday 24 February 2014.
Hei Tiripou Moku
E Rua, E Rua
He Po Nui Te Whai
Takina He Kawa
Kei Muri Pea
He Kuru Pounamu