TVNZ's The Naked Choir judge talks kapa haka

The Naked Choir judge Matt Gifford says acapella singing comes naturally for kapa haka performers. 

He says, “We're used to singing in groups from a very young age right through to old age. We sing every day. These aren't new skills.”

Gifford spoke to Kawe Kōrero Reporters and related the new TVNZ singing competition series to the Matatini stage.

He says, “I attended Te Matatini this year to see the groups on stage. From what I saw and heard, Māori have beautiful songs. When we're growing up in the church, on the marae and in kapa haka, singing is very important.”

Gifford was vocal coach for Te Matatini first timers Hikurangi Pariha at this year’s kapa haka nationals.

“I was the fortunate one to be able to help them. I think they are outstanding. Ngāti Porou is my other home. Yes, they have beautiful songs,” he says.

Gifford and The Naked Choir host Jeff Hunkin are members of Musical Island Boys who won the Barbershop Harmony Society’s International Championships in 2014.

Their championship performance of Now Is The Hour included the te reo Māori version – Po Atarau.

Gifford says, "What I like about acapella is that it's all about the language. There are no actions or instruments, just the beauty of the language. 

“People sing. Human beings sing,” he says.

“No matter where you are from or who you are, we've always sung, from ages ago to now.

“It makes me happy when I hear people sing, sad, happy and celebratory songs. No matter the topic, we sing."

When it comes to judging on The Naked Choir series Gifford is very clear about what he looks for in the performances.

“We look for several things. One of them is their singing ability. From how they breathe, use their vocals, including the tongue and jaw, all of those things that makes the song sound beautiful.

“Their enunciation, how the song flows, all those sorts of things. What I'm looking for is something that combines the mind and heart and resonates with listeners.”

The Naked Choir airs on Sundays at 8.30pm on TVNZ 1.