7 Mar 2017

The Joy Project: Rizvan Tu’itahi

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From THE JOY PROJECT, 10:57 am on 7 March 2017

Rizvan Tu’itahi, 33, is a musician, sound engineer and graphic artist. He lives on Auckland’s North Shore.

A diverse group of New Zealanders share what makes them happy.

When I discovered hip hop I was eight or nine and still living in Tonga. I was intrigued by this new art form; rapping was like poetry for me and I wanted to recreate my own version. Now, all this time later, making music and being creative makes me feel fulfilled. It’s therapeutic. I feel the content I’m making now is a lot more meaningful, it has a lot more depth to it in terms of subject matter and the words I use. The sound I create is more uplifting.

It took me a long time to be confident.  A lot of that had to do with being comfortable in my own skin. For me, especially in the New Zealand music scene, I really stand out because I’m a Tongan, I’m Baha’i and I’m from the Shore. People are surprised every time I mention all these things. I’ve gone through financial struggle and heartbreak and abuse, so I try to create music to help people who are struggling with those things. It might not be the exact topics, but it’s more the energy and the vibe and the sound of the music that’s uplifting. I hate self-pity. I think we all have it sometimes, but it’s a real killer of confidence. Sometimes it takes a while to get over that stuff and climb that hill. A lot of people don’t see the light, so I’m hoping my music brings some joy to them.

Rizvan Tu’itahi

Rizvan Tu’itahi Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

I believe everyone becomes what they are; no one is born genetically happy. When you’re born into this world you have a clean slate. It’s your environment and it’s the family culture around you that moulds who you are. But that doesn’t mean you have to be stuck in that, it’s not the only way you have to be. For me, it’s about taking the best of things. I shake my head when I see some of the protocols and traditions in the Tongan culture and I think, I’ll take the good stuff and pass that on but some of that other stuff has to stop.

If you want to be happy you have to look within yourself. You can’t get it from external sources or temporary things. People say alcohol helps, or drugs, or even just shrugging it off, but at the end of the day it’s just you. An activity, or a certain person, or nature, or music can help, but they’re all just tools. Happiness is definitely internal; if you are down you need time to rehabilitate and rejuvenate yourself. You need to get away from social media. Happiness is holistic. You need to balance all the things in your life.

Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

I’m not one for making money. I know I need it, but if I stacked up all this money and I died tomorrow, then what? I’d rather spend my time being happy and being with family and loved ones. But it’s a balance, isn’t it? You either have too much time and no money, or too much money and no time. At the moment I’m all about the time. I like using what I have to spread love and happiness around me.

I like to laugh, I like to go and visit people and talk and laugh with them and have meaningful conversations. In this society, people are scared to dig deep, especially men. But I’m a big Tongan dude out here sharing my heart. I’ve been through a lot and when you put yourself out there, it makes other people feel empowered. Once you share something heavy, your heart feels lighter. It’s a beautiful planet we have here and you don’t want to get stuck in your own head. You’ve got a beautiful life and you’ve got to get out there and feel the sun.

As told to Lucy Corry.

* If you want to share what makes you leap for joy, join the conversation on Facebook.

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