Te Waka Huia brings actress Keala Settle to tears

By Jessica Tyson

The Greatest Showman actress Keala Settle says she was in tears after watching Te Waka Huia sing their whakawātea to the tune of her movie waiata This Is Me at Te Matatini last week.

Te Ao Māori News caught up with Settle yesterday when she was in the country to announce her upcoming Broadway tour with Australian actor Hugh Jackman.

It was the first time she had come home to Aotearoa in 12 years.

“I cried when I saw it because it was right when I came here. It was only last week so I was on my way here, she said during the interview.

“I just started balling. It was amazing.”

Settle, from Hawai'i and of Rangitāne and Ngāti Kahungunu descent, says her aunty Sheena in Utah also saw Te Waka Huia's performance.

“She goes, ‘I’m going to learn that. I’m going to teach everyone over here’. I was like, ‘Go for it aunty! Go for it!’.”

Settle became the first Māori woman to sing at the Oscars last year performing This Is Me.

The song has been described by The New York Times as 'commanding and a perfect summation' of “what became the themes of the night – diversity, empowerment, [and] inclusion.”

The waiata is also popular in Te Ao Māori with its tune being used by haka groups, including numerous rōpū at Te Matatini 2019.

Settle will make a special appearance in Hugh Jackman’s world tour Broadway show The Man. The Music. The Show. coming to Auckland in September this year.