17 Nov 2023

The Barber Shop Sessions | Episode 2: Kapowairua

From The Barber Shop Sessions, 6:00 am on 17 November 2023

For English translations, turn on by clicking 'English Subtitles' when hovering over the video.

Series Classification
G (General Audiences) | Watch the series here

A descendant of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most northern tribe, Ngāti Kuri, Kapowairua Waitai arrives at the barber shop in true northern style: heels and an oilskin vest.

In her first performance, she pays tribute to the five tribes of Muriwhenua, Aotearoa NZ's most northern group of tribes. The track, titled Maharatia, written by Heeni Brown (Te Aupōuri, Te Arawa), evokes an old northern whakataukī (proverb), "He iti pioke nō Rangaunu he au tona." Chop questions Kapowairua about its meaning.

The proverb in the song is: 'Small the dogfish shark may be, great is its wake, as it traverses the might of the Rangaunu harbour.' The explanation for the proverb is that even though it's only small, it can still persist with its goal.”

Kapowairua sings for the Muriwhenua people

Kapowairua sings for the Muriwhenua people Photo: Tai Huri Films / Ryan Alexander-Lloyd

Kapowairua talks with Chop about the artists that have inspired her, including Bob Marley and Erykah Badu.

“His words speak directly to the soul. It talks about their struggle on their own lands. His words speak directly to the soul.”

However, it is her second performance which might just catapult this young artist to stardom, as she takes on one of Aotearoa NZ’s most soulful singers, Aradhana, and performs "Brown Girl" in te reo Māori. She tells Chop about the meaning of the lyrics after translating them into te reo Māori.

“To stand chiefly and with pride, knowing who you are and your connection to your Māori heritage.”

In this beautiful rendition titled "He Kōtiro Māori," translated by Kawiti Waetford (Ngāti Hine, Ngātiwai, Ngāpuhi), Kapowairua effortlessly shows her range as an artist. This northern treasure is one to watch.

Kapowairua performs with her mum, Leonie

Kapowairua performs with her mum, Leonie Photo: Tai Huri Films / Claire Gordon

Kapowairua Waitai

Kapowairua Waitai Photo: Tai Huri Films / Claire Gordon

Te Māngai Pāho

Te Māngai Pāho Photo: Te Māngai Pāho