Māori rangatahi hip hop with songstress Rihanna

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Ruth Pearce and Harmony Kiripatea of Ngāpuhi recently graced the stage with one of the world's most recognized faces - multi-platinum recording artist Rihanna. However, these Māori wāhine are no strangers to the big stage, having performed with the likes of Justin Beiber, Ciara, and Jenifer Lopez, just to name a few. 

The two hip hop dancers are members of The Royal Family, an elite New Zealand hip hop dance group that has become one of the most popular groups in the world. The Royal Family was created by international choreographer and entrepreneur New Zealander Parris Goebel.

The Royal Family Performace at HHI Worlds 2013. Source / The Palace Studios

Ruth Pearce

Ruth Pearce, or “Ruthie”,  joined the Royal Family when she was just nine, after she and her older sister, Kaea, were spotted by Goebel when they were living in Whangārei.   

“We were training with our little crew in Whangārei called Kani Crew. Parris came along in 2010 and told us that she's opening a studio in Auckland - and the rest is history," Pearce says. 

Ruth Pearce Dance Routines. Source / YouTube

Ruth has been performing at the Las Vegas World Hip-Hop Champs since she was eight and has returned for the competition a staggering 11 times.

The 20-year-old Whangārei-raised dancer finished conventional high school at year 11 but continued via the Correspondence School for the rest of year 11, year 12, and part of year 13 - all the while living her dream as a dancer in the Royal Family. 

“I definitely want to just keep dancing and having all of these amazing opportunities and experiences dancing all over the world,” Pearce says. 

Harmony Kiripatea

Harmony Kiripatea was born and raised on the Gold Coast of Australia, and started dancing when she was only five. 

Her parents encouraged her to audition for the Royal Family when she was 15 years old and she has been living in Auckland as a professional dancer ever since.

“I'm planning on living here for a long time, and to be a Kiwi," she says.

Royal Family Performing at 2020 SuperBowl Halftime Show

Kiripatea has performed at the World Hip Hop Champions for the past three years. She says her biggest performance has been taking to the stage with superstar J-lo (Jennifer Lopez) at the 2020 Super Bowl halftime show.

"That was just amazing. Mind-blowing. Never in a million years would I think that I would dance with J-Lo.

“Dancing makes me feel free and it helps me express my passion.”


Savage X Fenty is a lingerie line from multi-platinum recording artist Rihanna.

The newly launched show is a theatrical performance, in which dancers and celebrities model her lingerie line. The show is being compiled into a movie endorsed by Amazon. 

Pearce said she felt empowered and uplifted by the whole experience. 

“Something I gained from the Savage X Fenty Show was body positivity because all of these models in other shows are all skinny but in this one there are all shapes and  sizes, so it made me love my body and it was empowering.” 

She says the Savage X Fenty show was an honour to be apart of, mainly because of the message that it sends to people of all shapes, sizes, genders, and sexuality.