3 Jun 2024

Roots artist Hori Shaw had to learn to walk again

From King's Birthday Morning with Paddy, 11:05 am on 3 June 2024
Hori Shaw, winner of the 'People's Choice' award at the Aotearoa Music Awards 2024.

Hori Shaw, winner of the 'People's Choice' award at the Aotearoa Music Awards 2024. Photo: James Ensing-Trussell

Roots artist Hori Shaw was laying concrete fulltime until a hunting accident nearly paralysed him and sent him into music.

“Life sort of changed a couple of years ago when I was doing something I really love to do, which is hunting. Everything just happened so fast,” the Ōpōtiki-based musician, known as Hoaris the Boaris, told RNZ.  

“I went for a hunt on my horse, my horse ended up getting a fright and he just sort of played up and bucked me off.

“I just came straight over the front of his head and crushed three of those vertebrae in your neck which was enough to damage my spine, my spinal cord.”

Shaw lay paralysed for 13 hours, from midnight on Friday night. His father realised he hadn’t shown up for work on Saturday and came out on a motorbike and found him at 3.30pm.  

“I was lying down, he came up on the motorbike and he was broken, he was in tears and everything to find me like that,” Shaw said.  

“The first thing he said to me was ‘are you alright?’ and I was like ‘yeah, yeah… just don’t move me’.

“Lucky he didn’t move me, cause if he tried to lift me up... the people in the helicopter said it would have made it worse.  

“… I ended up getting shipped up to Auckland, to the Middlemore Hospital, and from there I went to the rehab centre. I was in that rehab centre for three, four months… just trying to get all my feeling back in my legs, my arms, my hands.”

No longer able to work as a labourer, Shaw said the incident led him to pick up his music career fulltime.

Then this year, Hoaris the Boaris was named the 'People's Choice' winner at the Aotearoa Music Awards.

“That was my first time on the red carpet, I had to take the old Red Bands with me, those go wherever I go. Got to keep it natural.”

Shaw describes his sound as roots reggae with an East Coast flavour, all crafted on very simple technology, created with a mate who’s a “beat maker” and producer.  

“When I do music, I don’t really sit down and write to it. Just whatever comes in my head I just put it down… and keep going over it and fixing it up.”