Tama Waipara is a man of many hats, he is one of the co-ordinators for the Auckland Arts Festival, he is currently also working on the World Masters Games in Auckland and is an established musical artist in his own right. The last few years though Tama has begun to focus his energies on supporting the up and coming generation of New Zealand artists, which makes Pao Pao Pao a perfect fit.
"Pao Pao Pao is probably the thing that I am most passionate about, which is seeing young Māori artists get the opportunities they deserve. The program was created by the late Dr Hirini Melbourne in 2005 and it’s designed for young Māori artists with a specific focus on music.
"It began as a wānanga in Waikato at the University and then it travelled to Wellington where it incorporated a gig and workshops that incorporated established, high profile Māori musicians and a few years ago in 2014 the core body of the Māori music committee approached Ngatapa Black and myself about bringing the program to Auckland.
"It was at that stage that we looked at what it was that Māori musicians really needed. Seeing this raft of talent coming through and not having the appropriate avenues to express themselves."
Due to the size of New Zealand, various funding bodies and organisations are used to support the development of artistic sectors, from NZ on Air through to Creative New Zealand and many more, and Pao Pao Pao has some solid examples of successful developmental programs.
"The models of Rockquest and Pacifica Beats and Play it Strange are all great initiatives but not firmly founded in a kaupapa Māori basis.So Pao Pao Pao was an opportunity to link the dots really and to see how we could bring those Māori values and ideals into a strong format for learning.
"There were a lot of synergys but the key to focusing on kaupapa Māori was finding all these mentors. Rub Ruha who is one of our key mentors pointed out that the word mentor doesn’t really sit in a Māori context, in fact whanau is probably a better description of what we are. Amongst that whanau are people like Rob Ruha, Maisey Rika, Seth Haapu, Ria Hall, Moana Maniapoto, Warren Maxwell, Annie Crummer, Anna Coddington, there’s a wide range of people who all have completely different sounding music but have a link in their philosophy, their ideology, their kaupapa."
Pao Pao Pao is helping generate high quality music from young Māori across New Zealand, but Tama Waipara is always looking further ahead and searching for more ways to grow opportunities for Māori artists.
"What New Zealand is woefully lacking in terms of the music industry is an established Māori music body. I would like to see that happen in the next few years. Teeks and I went to Canada to an aboriginal music festival in Winnipeg, Manitoba. There they have ‘Manitoba Music’ which is an indigenous music label funded by the government (Canada have very different funding model as we know).
"The whole purpose is to provide similar platforms to Pao Pao Pao except it has a dedicated office, personnel, equipment, all things that cost a lot of money. If you haven’t got a decent photo, a video clip, an electronic press kit it can be quite prohibitive, and again that’s what Pao Pao Pao was about, it’s about saying here are learnings from the industry, we need to have this and this and this and if you don’t yet have the contacts or the confidence to get yourself in front of an industry rep or want to know how to get clicks on a YouTube video maybe we can help guide you."