RNZ Music's top nine up-and-coming Māori musicians - one for each of the nine stars in the Matariki constellation.
Soul/gospel singer Te Karehana Gardiner-Toi has a resonant baritone, ‘deep and smooth, like some thick dark honey that’s been heated and poured slowly’.
Love and loss are themes on his debut EP 'The Grapefruit Skies', so it’s particularly apt that it’s been released in time for Matariki.
Teeks is of Ngāpuhi, Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui descent.
Glitchy electronica with beautiful lyrical lines is the trademark style of this Tāmaki Makaurau four-piece. Singer Geneva Alexander-Marsters performs in both Te Reo Māori and English. It’s her way of retaining her Te Reo after going through Kōhanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa, and to encourage others to use it.
SoccerPractise’s self-titled debut release is due later this year.
Geneva Alexander-Marsters is of Ngāti Kahungungu ki Wairoa descent.
They paddled up the Whanganui river, recording, playing, and composing on the way. More of a project than an ongoing band, Auaha is a group of seven musicians who met at a Tāonga Pūoro workshop in 2015.
Because of flooding, the out-of-towners were trapped at the workshop, which got local woman Elise Goodge thinking about ‘the power of the river and the effect it has on the people's lives that live alongside it’.
The group began their trip up the river in April 2017. After three days in their waka, they got to Koriniti Marae, where they set up a makeshift recording studio.
As fate would have it though, the river nixed them again - they were evacuated, due to impending flooding from a cyclone.
4. Ria Hall
Ria started with one of the top Kapa Haka groups in the country and has sung with Hollie Smith, Trinity Roots, Stan Walker and Fly My Pretties. She’s also a presenter on Māori TV’s Marae DIY.
Her debut album is out later this year on Loop.
Ria’s been drip-feeding us wildly varied singles in the lead-up to its release. From a shiny heavily produced pop love song to a raw, angry reggae song.
We’re looking forward to hearing her finished work.
Ria’s latest song ‘Tell Me’ came out in April. It ‘highlights kaupapa such as homelessness, marginalisation of people, race, and the ever-growing gap between the rich and poor’.
Tauranga-based Ria is of Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui descent.
5. Modern Maori Quartet
With a thoroughly entertaining modern take on the Māori showband tradition, these Toi Whakaari graduates have been singing and joking around the country for the last five years.
They’re hoping to release their debut album That’s Us in September.
We really like their song ‘Māreikura’ which honours the women of the world.
You can also download their crack-up ‘Kai Song’ for free.
6. Stan Walker
Ok, ok, not a rising star, but a fully-fledged pop star.
Stan won Australian Idol in 2009 and has since had platinum albums and chart-topping singles. Oh, and he’s also starred in a couple of films, and been a judge on X Factor.
But his new song and video - ‘New Takeover’, signals a whole new direction for Stan. He’s reconnecting with his Maori side and empowering others at the same time.
Katikati native Montell2099 has just released a song with world-famous rapper 21 Savage, he helped produce one of only two remixes of Lorde's 'Green Light' and he now has over 30,000 SoundCloud followers.
“I still find it buzzy how far I’ve come in the past three years." says Montell, "I was making beats at my grandparents' house in [Katikati], then a couple of years later I’m in a studio in LA making a track with 21 Savage. It’s still pretty surreal."
Montell was approached by Red Bull Sound Select who facilitated the collaboration with 21 Savage.
8. Troy Kingi
This Kerikeri-based musician-actor and seafood addict creates music that captures the spirit of Maori music, with echoes of Bob Marley and Hendrix.
Music and performance have been a constant for Troy since his boarding school days where he picked up the guitar as one Te Aute College's kapa haka performers.
Although most of his repertoire consisted of kapa haka standards and some Bone Thugs-N-Harmony covers, the family's relocation to Kerikeri saw Troy's musical horizons expand to Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park when he attended the predominantly Pākehā local high school.
Now a firm fan of Queens of the Stone Age and "anything by Jack White", Troy describes himself as a dirt-blues guitarist.
9. Alien Weaponry
This teenage thrash metal band from Waipu do the best headbanging we’ve seen in 20 years.
They’ve been taken under the wing of Shihad drummer Tom Larkin and have just released new single Rū Ana Te Whenua.
The band play really tight metal and they’re using Te Reo in that context really well.
Check out this short doc on Alien Weaponry from The Wireless: