'Māori Beyonce' wants to be as successful as her idol

By Tamara Poi-Ngawhika

Te KuraHuia has been called the Māori Beyonce. Photo / Supplied

By Tamara Poi-Ngawhika Te Rito Journalism Cadet

Singer Te KuraHuia has been described as the "Maori Beyonce" but says she still has a lot to prove in her career if she wants to be as successful as the US superstar.

Born Faith Oriwia Henare-Stewart, the entertainer debuted her visual EP, UHA, at the Wairoa Film Festival this month, with the festival's organiser Leo Koziol introducing the 22-year-old as "the Māori Beyonce". She chuckled at the comparison, which made her blush.

"It put me on the spot, really. She's such an inspiration. She's a māmā, very rich, very well known, a wāhine toa that many people look up to. I find it funny to be called the Māori Beyonce because I don't think I could ever be that taumata [distinguished]," Te KuraHuia said.

She said being Māori is key to her creativity and her whakapapa is what makes her different from the multiple Grammy-award-winning Beyonce.

"She definitely is a role model, and certainly I'd like to achieve similar goals but I'm Māori and she's African American. I aspire to be more rongonui [well-known] than famous."

UHA is an EP of three waiata and a music video that will be showing at Matariki Pictures, a film festival held at the Mangere Arts Centre to celebrate the Māori new year.

"It's a dedication to the first wahine who was Hineahuone, to acknowledge her for the gifts that were passed down to us by wahine mā."

She wrote the waiata last August during the Covid-19 lockdown and hopes to take them to other film festivals overseas.

"I'm waiting to hear back from the Hawaii International Film festival and we're looking at indigenous festivals in Canada as well. It's stressful but I'm still here pushing through with the strength of my ancestors."

UHA and other Māori films to celebrate Matariki will be playing at the Mangere Arts Centre tonight, June 24, at 7.30pm.

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