Supergroup Mōhau won Te Kaipuoro Kairangi Toa, Best Worship Artist and the Mana Reo award at the Aotearoa Music Awards last night.
Group leader Rob Ruha says their victory is a testament to a change in the music industry.
“It’s just the industry catching up really with what’s happening in society. So you have our beautiful rangatahi in Maimoa. You have all these other fantastic initiatives like Uru Whetu, our Ka Hao choir rangatahi, our kapa haka movements. They’re so powerful. There’s reo Māori everywhere so society has changed and this is the manifestation of that change," he says.
"Last night was a major celebration especially with the mana reo of this multi-stream society catching up positioning now."
Mōhau is also made up of artists including Ria Hall, Troy Kingi, Bella Kalolo, Majic Paora, Kaaterama Pou and Ka Hao. Ruha says winning both the awards was extra special for Ka Hao.
“We took them for their very first experience at the then Vodafone Music Awards, and they were watching Benee and they were watching everyone else and the very next day we recorded the album. So fast forward a year, we go to the music awards, we close the music awards and we pick up two beautiful trophies for our mahi for the album.”
He says it was also a really special night in celebration of their whakapono (religious beliefs).
“In the recorded music space it doesn’t get a whole heap of air time, so it was beautiful to present our wairuatanga last night.”
The group first came together to record the waiata Ka Mānu.
“Ka Mānu was also originally written for the Mōhau album but it needed, obviously, its own life and to support the plight of our whānau at Ihumātao, across the waters at Mauna Kea, our first national brothers and sisters in Canada, in Turtle Island.”
The Mana Reo award recognises albums or singles with at least 50 per cent te reo Māori. Mōhau’s self-titled album made up of eight waiata whakamoemiti, or gospel songs, were composed entirely in te reo Māori and recorded in a single take as a live visual album, a month before the audio release.
“We were approached to do some waiata whakamoemiti and we said ‘Yea we’ll do it but we want to do it like this. One take, no going back. If there are any mistakes let them be there and just fully embrace the wairuatanga of the mahi’.”
They rehearsed each track for about an hour and then had one runthrough from top to bottom
“We all come from a kapa haka background and that’s what happens in kapa haka. You get one shot on the stage. You don’t get to go back and redo a little guitar piece or redo those piano pieces. One shot and give it your best.”
The other finalists for the Mana Reo award last night were Maimoa and Six60.