Shepherds Reign perform their new single "Le Manu." / Source - File
South Auckland metal band Shepherds Reign, are open to doing benefit concerts to help relief efforts in Samoa, but are apprehensive of how their music would be received back in their conservative Christian homeland.
Guitarist Oliver Leupolu (Ngāti Hāmoa) explains that they are, “Keen to do a free concert, but I [the band] don’t know how they’d like it over there.”
Lead vocalist Filiva’a James adds, “They’d probably think that we worship Satan or something.”
An ironic point, considering that both Filava'a James and guitarist Gideon Voon earned their stripes playing in their local church bands.
James says, “I used my piano skills, as well as choir mastering.”
Voon adds, “Same for me, I grew up in a church as well, I played in a church band.”
Shepherd’s Reign took a massive risk, by using the metal genre to reinterpret the Siva Tau, the world famous haka performed by Manu Samoa before every game. However the overall worldwide reaction has been positive, with celebrities such as WWE Hall of Famer Rikishi sending in his tweet of approval.
James explains the ancient origins of the Siva Tau, and the Samoan tūpuna it commemorates.
“There was actually a warrior called Manu Samoa, and the songs about him, done by their village in Faleali’i. But we sort of turned it around, and aimed it towards us.
“Instead of fighting a war, you know, go and spread our story, and sing our songs and perform to the best we can, to the world.”
The metaphor is that the mana, strength and prowess of the legendary Manu Samoa will manifest in the bands’ pursuit of excellence. The same concept applies when the Samoan rugby union and league teams perform the Siva Tau as well.
The loyalty of the band to their own ethnic groups is reflected in the lyrics of Le Manu. Lyrics such as “Ia aua ne’i galo lau tapuaiga, si ou atunu’u ma lou aiga,” meaning “Don’t forget your loyal supporters, your homelands and your families that are right behind you,” reflect the values of each band member.
Ngāi te Rangi and Te Arawa drummer Shaymen Rameka elaborates on the impact that the fans have made:
“There’s a lot of people that’s into the music but they’re not really outspoken with it. so I guess it’s sort of humbling to know that its helping people come to it.”
Speaking for both himself and Leupolu, James concludes that despite the misgivings that conservative Samoans might have that, “It [Samoa] is our country and we’d like to help as much as we can, starting with Le Manu as a dedication to those poor little souls.”