6 Sep 2019

Nan playing “violele” goes viral

From Upbeat, 1:12 pm on 6 September 2019

A Flaxmere grandmother has gone viral on social media with her unusual violin playing skills.

A video of Nanny Moewaka playing a violin like a ukulele was posted on Facebook late last week and has received more than 100,000 views

The 71-year-old semi-retired school teacher was filmed by her granddaughter, author PJ Shepard, who purchased the violin off Trademe for $30.

Nanny Moewaka had no idea she’d become an internet sensation. “I didn’t know what that meant. And it’s still going,” she laughs.

In the video, she sings while strumming the sideways violin-turned-ukulele.

She says she was thinking about her great grandmother who raised her, and her grandmother, both strong wāhine.

“I can imagine her being there,” she says. “They… knew how to wrap up things with their voices… this is what I do.”

Her creativity with instruments began in childhood. She grew up in a house with no instruments, however her marae did have nine guitars and that is where she learnt to play. She says they would make do with what was available. “We’d pick up anything and do the best we can,” she said.

Nanny Moewaka is a protector of te reo Māori. She was one of the first who helped reinvigorate the language in schools. She’s semi-retired now, but spends her time teaching kapa haka, speaking at symposiums and weaving flax.

She says it’s important for Māori to stand up and be heard. “I’m not afraid to tautoko any kaupapa,” (support my beliefs) she says. “Māori shouldn’t be shy. Don’t be shy!”