Her name is Moana

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Last time Moana Maniapoto was in Queenstown, she played at a friend’s 50th and ended up forming an electronica duo that’s gone on to perform around the world.

“It’s one of the best parties I’ve ever been to, we were on a roll,’’ she laughs.

“It took me a while to recover from that one.’’

She’s about to return to the south as part of her 24-date ‘My Name is Moana’ nationwide tour, which is just one part of a very impressive 2019 for the pioneering singer/songwriter.

Her first album with band Moana & the Moahunters, Tahi, was named the 2019 recipient of the Independent Music NZ Classic Record, which aims to acknowledge albums that continue to inspire us and that also define who we are.

She’s also releasing sixth album, Ono, this year.

Maniapoto entered the public eye in the early ‘90s with her group Moana and the Moahunters.

Her lyrics are often in Te Reo, and her work has incorporated haka and poi.

She tells Mountain Scene that people at live gigs have become more receptive to Te Reo and the way she uses her music to tell Maori stories.

But radio stations? Not so much.

“Radio has only changed marginally,’’ she says.
There is now an iwi radio network, as well as student radio. But most radio stations are still pretty conservative, she says.

“A lot of their playlists are from overseas, there’s antipathy towards New Zealand music in general, but Te Reo is further down the food chain.’’

Her latest tour, ‘My Name is Moana’, incorporates Te Reo
and celebrates “our relationship as New Zealanders to the ocean through a mixture of music, myth and personal anecdotes’’.

Some of those anecdotes include stories about her mum, who was from Lumsden.

“When we moved up to Rotorua, a teacher was asking us where we were from, and when we said Lumsden she said ‘I’ve never heard of it, you must have got it wrong’,’’ Maniapoto laughs.

She says she’s looking forward to getting back on the road, for what will only be her second ever nationwide tour.
The first was in 2017.

“It was just wonderful, I said to my manager that I love this more than going to Russia, because you get to go to these tiny places, you meet people, find out what they’re thinking, what their issues are.

“You get to be a real band, you play, you jump in the car, you stop and buy a pie, you go to the next town.’’

To catch My Name is Moana, head to Arrowtown’s Athenaeum Hall, Saturday, May 18, 7.30pm, $25