Play It Strange award winner proves 'you can make it in te ao Māori'

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

A Gisborne Girls High School student has taken out the Junior Maioha award at Play It Strange just held in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Play It Strange was founded in 2003 to provide secondary students with a platform for creative expression through songwriting, recording and performance.

Now Taniko Rangihau of Ngāi Tūhoe and Te Arawa, who has won the junior Maioha award, says she gets to show all her whānau and all of the students at her school "that te ao Māori is the way to go - you can make it in te ao Māori.

“So I wrote a song in te reo Māori and here I am at Play It Strange in Auckland with my band. To me, it just means that anyone can do it.”

Waiata Māori gets more recognition on stage.

Her music teacher Jane Egan is taking Rangihau’s win as a proud moment for her kura, especially as it links to success of a previous winner of the same award now proving the same as Rangihau.

“The last person in my class to win the Maioha award was Ruawhaitiri Ngatai Mahue and he's in Ka Hao. So he's quite a popular figure at our school, especially with the success of 35 at the Silver Scroll Awards and the Music Awards [this year]. So it's kind of really nice that Taniko is following in Rua's footsteps,” she says.

Following Ngoi Pēwhairangi

Egan praises those who have paved the way for the school to ensure their legacy continues, in particular composer Ngoi Pēwhairangi, who was inducted into the NZ Music Hall of Fame for many accomplishments including Pātea Māori Club’s Poi E.

“I think given that Ngoi Pēwhairangi was a Māori teacher at our school, I definitely feel the weight of that on my shoulders. She's done so much for music and Aotearoa, I feel the weight of making sure that her legacy continues through our students as well.”

Rangihau performed her own waiata, Te Rewanga o Matariki, to her whānau last night during Play It Strange, and hopes it will reach other rangatahi Māori to get them to enter more songwriting competitions.

“The meaning behind Te Rewanga o Matariki is to celebrate the Māori New Year as we finally got a public holiday for Matariki. And so I wanted to acknowledge Matariki, so I wrote about it.

“You never know, I ended up here and I never expected to be here at Play It Strange.”