Well-travelled Tongan’s in a southern tune-up

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Singer songwriter Joel Havea is no stranger to life on the road. 

The Tongan-born musician left his adopted city Melbourne in 2008 and gigged his way across the world. 

Havea played countless small gigs throughout South-East Asia and Europe before settling in Germany and recording album You Make Me Believe. 

Now he brings his travel-worn guitar and soul, reggae and pop music sounds back to the Southern Hemisphere – with a small tour of the South Island. 

Havea says: “I traveled with my brother who is also a musician and a couple of friends. 

“It was a big source of inspiration. We were playing obviously because we enjoy it but also as a means to earn some money. 

“I ended up in Hamburg and I haven’t left yet. I met my producer [Achille Fonkham] and really started focusing on my music more. I brought out my first album in March this year. 

“It’s going well – we’re doing everything independently so it takes some time to build up.” 

Havea began playing live gigs around Melbourne in his late teens with guitarist and percussionist brother Dave, as the ‘Havea Brothers’. 

But it was in Hamburg that he began to hone his sound, working on new material and a backlog of songs. 

The self-financed debut album was released on Fonkham Records and is available on both iTunes and Amazon. 

Aussie Havea, 30, will bring his relaxed style and old-school approach to song writing to Queenstown next week, one of four South Island dates. 

“You can expect some quality handmade music,” Havea says. 

“It’s acoustic, covering a wide range of styles and definitely a good night out.”

Catch Joel Havea at Surreal, Rees Street, this coming Monday from 9pm