Māori music group pays homage to taonga puoro practitioners

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Taonga Pūoro band, 'Ia' has just released its latest single, Whetū, which band member Reti Hedley says is a tribute to taonga puoro practitioners.

“We wanted to compose a waiata around that to pay homage to our predecessors who tred the trails of taonga pūoro, who now include matua Richard Nunns and others.”

Creating the music video for Whetū was challenging, says video director Moehau Hodges-Tai, as it was filmed completely outdoors, at night, on the shores of Lake Karāpiro.  

“Working in low light brings a lot of production difficulties.  However, I am a firm believer that taking brave chances is how we start to make our ideas come to life,” Hodges-Tai says.

“And we didn’t even know if there would be any stars out there in the middle of the night,” says Moetu Smith.

Whetū by Ia

Much to their surprise, the three-man band is a finalist for Best Māori group at the 2021 Māori Music Awards, alongside the likes of LAB, Tomorrow People, and Morse gang.

“They’re big deal in Aotearoa music and I’m still in shock, to be honest,” Smith says. 

"I don't even feel like we should be there, to be honest, but ey we are very grateful," Hedley says. 

Lead vocalist and taonga puoro player Reti Hedley says he is committed to using taonga puoro as leading instruments, rather than "sprinkles on top." 

“When we started IA, the goal was to bring taonga puoro to the forefront of our music, and I am committed to continuing this. It can be difficult composing with taonga puoro because they are not built like western instruments. They have their own unique voices and are limited to certain notes, but I've been playing taonga puoro and western instruments my entire life and now I get to combine both worlds."

Whetū is IA’s fourth track and is available at all major music outlets including iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp from today3.