TE VAKA’s creative source - OPETAIA FOA’I - speaks about his
music and inspiration....
“I was fortunate to have grown up in a place where I was exposed to Tokelauan* Tuvaluan* and Samoan* traditional music and dance. This was the music that captured my heart and I grew to love.
Arriving in New Zealand at the age of nine, I was further exposed to other styles of music, for example: Jimi Hendrix and Joan Armatrading were two of my favourite artists.
I am now at a point in my life where I feel my musical journey has come full circle. I have purposefully retuned the guitar to open tuning as that was how I originally played it in Samoa. I’ve also used a Polynesian language (Tokelau) to express different aspects of Polynesia in the most honest and natural way I can. Although I speak English, Samoan and Tuvaluan as well, I was brought up in a Tokelauan community and I found this to be the most comfortable language for my song writing.
My main source of inspiration comes from speaking to the old people and extracting information passed to them by their parents. This valuable information is then put into music and preserved for the coming generations to appreciate. This is a very important part of my writing.
It is very fortunate that my music is appreciated by people from many cultural backgrounds here in New Zealand and internationally. It appears that the language is not a barrier and the music communicates all by itself, supported by the fact that I have achieved worldwide distribution .
Many celebrity musicians have made comments on the potential of the Pacific including Quincey Jones when he visited New Zealand a few years ago. He was quoted as saying something to the effect of, “The next great musical movement to impress the world will come from the Pacific.”
I feel this statement has a lot of truth in it and if Te Vaka can be part of a group of artists working to achieve or make that prediction come true then I will not only feel privileged but very satisfied at achieving much of my goal as a Polynesian artist.”
* TOKELAU, TUVALU & SAMOA are islands in the SOUTH PACIFIC OCEAN