Tainui artists Theia and Vayne take a stand against sexual predators in music tour

By Jessica Tyson

Two ground-breaking Māori female musicians Theia and Vayne are taking a stand in their upcoming tour in May, to deliver a cutting message to sexual predators.

Theia and Vayne will perform their own sets back to back and will then perform togetherCREEP, a te reo Māori and English, bass-heavy banger song.

In the waiata, Theia and Vayne nod to their own personal experiences and trauma in dealing with sexual harassment and abuse and acknowledge many others who have been harmed and continue to be harmed by the actions of predatory people. The artists were at a songwriting camp with other Māori musicians when they were paired up to write waiata.  

“Automatically we just started talking about some fairly hohonu take (deep topics), Theia says. "This was one of them, about our own whānau and community, and how it shouldn’t be normalised that you grow up understanding who your dodgy relatives are that make you feel unsafe and how everyone knows about their behaviour but nothing is really done about it."

“We wanted to talk about that but from an empowering perspective in that we’re calling our their behaviour… These kinds of cycles of abuse have been happening for a long time as effects of colonisation on us as people and it’s just important for youth to talk about these things as well.”

Theia and Vayne will visit Hamilton, Auckland, Wellington, Whakatāne and Gisborne as part of the tour. Source: Theia, Facebook

Social reform in music industry

Theia says the song was also born out of the urgency to create social reform in the music industry and educate men on the harsh realities of sexism that women face every day. It follows on from an open letter penned by singer-songwriter Anna Coddington and signed by major artists including Bic Runga, Anika Moa and Lorde in January this year. The letter urged industry leaders – and workers at every level – to examine their own behaviour in relation to sexual harassment.

Theia says, “I absolutely tautoko that article and all of the wāhine who were a part of that. I think the article speaks for itself and the things that need to happen. Unfortunately, it is female-identifying and marginalised people who are having to lead these changes but the responsibility really is on tāne, men and people who are at the top and in charge in positions of power who need to make sure that they’re creating and facilitating these safe spaces for us.

“We will continue to fight for this but the real change will come when those people in positions of power who mostly, let’s be honest, are male, will really try and create and work towards those safe environments.”

Theia makes unapologetic alt-pop, which pushes boundaries both sonically and lyrically. Since emerging in 2016, she has gone on to amass a loyal fan base across the globe, receiving critical acclaim from the likes of Pigeons & Planes, Clash and Billboard Magazine, which recently described Theia as “one of the most exciting voices in pop to emerge from New Zealand in the last five years”.

Te reo Māori

Theia is fluent in te reo Māori and also has a reo Māori project called TE KAAHU inspired by her kui (grandmother).

“It was really amazing for me and for Vayne to be able to incorporate the reo into [CREEP] in particular … really because of the taumahatanga me kī o tēnei waiata, (the heaviness of this waiata). The way that we’ve chosen our kupu (words) in te reo just perfectly brings the authority. They’re not pretty words that we sing. It is quite heavy but that’s what gets the message across. This waiata in particular, we’ve written it for our people and our community.”

Vayne is a fast-rising voice of Aotearoa hip-hop today. In July 2020 she released her debut EP GUTTA GIRL and she has teamed up with Montell2099, LMC and Church Leon. Vayne has also grown a following from packing out Karangahake Road venues in Auckland's CBD, to performing at The Others Way, FOMO and opening for Six60.

Tour locations

As part of their tour Theia and Vayne will visit Hamilton on May 7, Auckland on May 15, Wellington on May 21, Whakatāne on May 28 and Gisborne on May 29.

“What better way than be able to take it on the road but not just to the usual places but make sure that we’re really going to position ourselves so that all our Māori whānau can come along," Theia. says

If you or anyone you know needs support in relation to sexual harm, contact SAFETOTALK on 0800 044 334 or text 4334.