Music from the Heart

By Taroi Black

Hundreds of kids in Ōtara have been given a positive life change under musical educational programme, Sistema Aotearoa.

Leading their musical path is one of NZ's successful violinists, Jess Hindin.

Hindin says, “We're trying to introduce this whole community into what is essentially a classical musical culture which is not often equated with Pacific Island kids.”

Hindin has been part of Sistema Aotearoa for the past 7 years. 

“But, because we have over 400 kids playing instruments, we've got a team of tutors and there's probably 12-13 of us now who are mostly part-timers.”

Hindin has a long successful career with music and has worked alongside artists like international stars Kanye West, U2 and Hayley Westenra.

“There's things that we do with them and sing to them and they respond, to get their attention back.  We've got some lovely Māori songs that we sing with them. Rob Ruha wrote for us a gorgeous waiata and the kids love it.”

In 2017, more than 1,000 Māori and Pasifika children students, aged 2 to 15 years, participated.  One of their first students, Enyah Talamaivao, who received a scholarship to attend Saint Cuthbert’s School.

Talamaivao says, “I fell in love with the violin just because I would try something new.  Going to Saint Cuthbert's from Ōtara is really different and the majority of kids that go there are not islanders.”