He reckons he’s only just found his feet in terms of music - the business he's been in for nearly half his life when he started out in the very popular Nesian Mystik. Before they were called Nesian Mystik the band went by the name Tropical Penguins, when the nascent troupe "literally needed" a name to enter the Smokefree Rockquest.
“One of the boys had a Twistie packet and there was a penguin on it or something. We were just like ‘Oh look, we’re all polynesian’ and so just Tropical Penguins, that will do.” Thank goodness we didn’t go any further than the first heat, we’ll just leave that name in the past”
The former Tropical Penguins went onto great success as Nesian Mystik, they hold the proud record having the most top ten hits of any New Zealand band, as well as being the only recipients of both the APRA Silver Scroll and Maioha Awards. Also impressive is the business nous Awa put to use during the band's heyday.
"The boys had had chance to enjoy their money and they had wondered where it had went, basically after the big payouts came. So I just took their money and bought a commercial property in East Tamaki.
Awa's interest in business stemmed from a formative experience in his childhood when his parents could not afford to send him on school camp.
"I just knew then I didn’t ever want to be in that position again... I know for my whānau - I don’t know about anyone elses - but our idea of money and our relationship with money was never really a positive one. Although we had whānau land, my parents didn’t own a house, even though they had well paying jobs and both had Masters, but still couldn’t buy a home."
At aged 20 Awa bought his first home and sees financial security as a way to support the aspirations and needs of his community.
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