Haka exponent Kingi Kiriona first time finalist for Maioha Award

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Kapa haka exponent Kingi Kiriona has been named one of three finalists in this year's Maioha Award category of the APRA Scroll awards for his innovative remix composition of Atua Whiowhio that blends haka and hip hop performed by his popular haka group Te Iti Kahurangi. 

The first time nominee says his success was a team effort.

"It's an honour and delight. It's also an acknowledgement of all the hard work and not just me, there were many people involved with the project and its composition." 

Atua Whiowhio is part of the limited edition He Kura Kainga, which was released late last year as part of a fundraising campaign for Te Iti Kahurangi to go to Te Matatini 2017.

"Perhaps it's successful because it's so different and outside the boundaries of tradition. Our group really wanted to reversion the song so that it didn't just sit within the genre of Māori haka but could be heard on the airwaves as a contemporary song," said Kiriona.

Atua Whiowhio was first composed as an entrance item in 2012 and performed by Te Iti Kahurangi on Te Matatini stage in Rotorua the following year. The team placed third equal overall.

Kiriona says it's just been confirmed that the song will be used as a learning resource for children in Māori medium-based high schools and primary schools throughout the country.

"They will learn about our Māori history regarding the prophet Te Kooti a Rikirangi Te Turuki when he resided in the region of Maniapoto and the Tokanganui a Noho ancestral house."

The other finalists are teenage metal band Alien Weaponry and songstress Maisey Rika. The awards will be held next month in Dunedin.