Maisey Rika: Tangaroa Whakamautai
Rob Ruha: Kariri
Horomona Horo: Putaatara

Share |
Aotearoa's Finest
Māori singer/songwriters Maisey Rika, Rob Ruha, & Seth Haapu are joined by Horomona Horo, Aotearoa's (New Zealand's) leading practitioner in taonga puoro, traditional Maori instruments, creating music that fuses cultural roots, memorable tunes, and honest, gripping lyrics.

They are all superb musicians and performers, revered for their artistry and Maori activism, at the forefront of a new generation of indigenous performers in New Zealand (Aotearoa), who have been commissioned by WOMAD Taranaki and its program director Emere Wano, to create new work together, mainly in te reo Maori (Maori language). They have performed together at festivals and events and shared each other's songs—this project takes them to a new level of collaboration.

Their performance reflects their deep roots in Maori traditions, including chant and Horo's instrumentation. As contemporary artists, their work also reflects modern Maori music and its many international influences. Missionaries brought melody to Aotearoa via hymns; subsequently American popular music, reggae, and other global trends influenced the instruments and sounds of contemporary Maori songs. Like many Pacific Island traditions, great significance is placed on the lyrics; the poetry of the words is the throughline from traditional chant to today's songs and harmonies.

This group of artists, and the songs they write, are concerned with environmental issues, particularly those that directly impact Maori lands and Aotearoa's water; Maori youth and threats from drugs, poverty, gangs; renewed pride in heritage and in traditions; and well as songs of love and connection. The melodies help give them a mainstream platform to tell their stories.

A singer-songwriter whose powerful, majestic voice captivates audiences worldwide, Maisey Rika moved from traditional Kapa Haka to a singing career, winning 9 Maori music awards to date. Horomona Horo, composer and cross-genre collaborator, shares instruments that are part of the Maori holistic culture of all life, birth, death and nature. Solo recording artist and composer of over 200 songs, Rob Ruha has a burning drive to expand the platforms for the voice of his indigenous nation, amplifying and celebrating uniquely Maori world-views.

Seth Haapu, of Maori/Tahitian descent, is an Auckland-based pianist, guitarist and singer, with a velvet voice and a soul for inventive melodies.

Together, they are Aoteroa’s Finest.

Aotearoa's Finest will tour the continental United States and Hawai'i in January 2018.

Maisey Rika, vocals, guitar
Horo Horomona - pūoro (Maori traditional instruments), vocals
Rob Ruha - guitar, vocals
Seth Haapu, keys, vocals