Indigenous issues to take spotlight on awards stage

By Jessica Tyson

Māori musician Troy Kingi is set to perform at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards on Thursday night, in a bid to share a message about issues affecting indigenous communities around the world. 

"We've got Ihumātao and a lot of stuff all over the motu. But then you look at Mauna Kea in Hawaii and the stuff that's going down in Chile with the Mapuche indigenous people," he told Te Ao at the dress rehearsal today.

Kingi will perform his waiata Mighty Invader about Captain Cook.

"Some of the story and some of the lyrics are things we don't really learn about in school...And there's going to be a little extra something in there as well."

He says the performance feels like its one of the biggest shows he's ever done.

"As a platform to tell my message or tell our message, I'm just happy that they're letting me because, say 20 years ago, I don't know if they'd let this particular performance go ahead."

Troy Kingi performs at VNZMA dress rehearsal. Source: File

It comes after his recent release of Holy Colony Burning Acres, a deeply personal and spiritual examination of the plight of First Nations peoples around the world. The album is the third instalment of Kingi’s aspirational 10|10|10 Series; ten albums in ten genres in ten years.

The album delves into the dark corners of worldly indigenous politics, namely colonisation and its crippling effects on today’s social climate.

He says he's happy artists are feeling more comfortable to write music that highlight issues facing indigenous communities.

"There was a bit of a tapu thing where you couldn't write a certain way but it feels like the walls have broken down and you can write about anything now," he says. 

"When it feels like there's no hope music is just uplifting, whether its the answer I don't know."

Troy Kingi. Source: VNZMA

Under the moniker Troy Kingi & The Upperclass he’s nominated for both Best Māori Artist and Best Roots Artist, Te Kaipūoro Taketake Toa at this year’s awards.

Last year he won the Best Soul/RnB and Best Māori Artist Tui at the awards for Shake That Skinny Ass All The Way To Zygertron, his epic funk-infused sophomore album taking inspiration from sci-fi soul, interstellar love and 70s cosmic funk.

The VNZMAs are being held tomorrow night at Spark Arena in Auckland.