Opetaia Foa'i & Kura Kids Sing Disney

By Te Rina Kowhai

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Maungārongo got a taste of Disney with award-winning songwriter Opetaia Foa'i. Foa'i is back in New Zealand to promote the ongoing success of the 'Moana Soundtrack'.

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Maungārongo was given a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Student Takiri Wikitera (Te Rarawa) told Te Kāea, "It was so awesome to meet him." 

Fellow student Kahana Harris (Ngāpuhi, Tūwharetoa) said, "It was exciting to meet him."

Prior to signing a 3-year Disney contract, Foa'i the leader of the Pacific band 'Te Vaka' has travelled the world. 

Opetaia Foa'i says "It nearly brought me to tears you know, I've been away for almost 10-years. And it wasn't like this when I left. And to see the children speak fluently in Māori, it blew me away. Man the culture is here now."

The languages of the Pacific was vital for Opetaia, who instilled the harmonious melodies from the Pacific to the animated feature film 'Moana'. But leaving an imprint of the Polynesian culture internationally at home was also just as important.

"Well you know there's Moana 2, 3, 4, 5 and these kids I can imagine can be in it, you know. The younger generation is really where it's at. I tried as much as I can to insert Pacific language in there, '"We Know the Way' has three verses in Polynesian," says Foa'i.

The Moana Soundtrack has been number one on the New Zealand Charts for the second week in a row. It's become a number one hit Soundtrack and number two Album on the US Billboard Charts.

Foa'i says "I went and struggled and got forty countries. And then Disney comes in with just a single stroke, hundreds of countries. Hundreds of countries that translate our culture into their languages. I mean, I'm happy to end it all here."

A potential retirement for the veteran who knows? However, the world will continue to reap the benefits left behind by Foa'i.

Here are some extended interviews of the interview...