Kahilu Theatre Presents ‘Aoteaora’s Finest’

January 2, 2018, 4:09 PM HST
* Updated September 8, 4:12 PM
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Maori singer-songwriters Rob Ruha, Seth Haapu and Maisey Rika will be joined by Horomona Horo, Aotearoa’s leading practitioner in taongapuoro (traditional Maori instruments).

They will be creating music that fuses cultural roots, memorable tunes and honest, gripping lyrics at the Kahilu Theatre stage on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018 at 4 p.m. and Monday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m.

Aoteaora’s Finest: (L–R) Horomona Horo, Seth Haapu, Maisey Rika and Rob Ruha. Courtesy photo.

Each of these artists has deep roots in their Maori culture and are superb musicians, revered for their artistry and Maori activism. They are at the forefront of a new generation of indigenous performers who have been commissioned by the World of Music, Arts and Dance (WOMAD) to create new works together, highlighting their native language, te reo Maori.

WOMAD is an internationally recognized organization that aims to promote cross-cultural awareness and tolerance. Aotearoa’s finest have all performed together at festivals and events; however, this project takes their collaboration to the next level.

Rika is a singer/songwriter whose powerful, majestic voice captivates audiences worldwide. She began singing professionally at 13 years old and gained national stardom as lead vocalist with her Kapa Haka group on E Hine, a classic collection of Māori traditional songs that went double platinum. Moving on to a solo career, Rika has since won a total of nine Maori music awards for her Tohu and Whitiora CDs.


Horo is a composer, cultural practitioner and cross genre collaborator, who has fused taongapuoro (singing treasures) with the traditional instruments of the Maori, presenting a diverse range of cultural and musical forms. Horo brings with him the knowledge and traditional practices of these instruments, for not only are they of musical significance, but each instrument has a specific use within rites of passage, storytelling and Maori daily life. The instruments are part of the holistic culture of all life, birth, death and nature in Maori cuntlre. Horo is also headlining a larger project supported by Creative New Zealand, featuring contemporary Maori musicians who give voice to today’s Maori culture and social activism.


Ruha is a singer-songwriter and an emerging solo recording artist from Te Whanaua Apanui and Ngati Porou. Ruha has a burning drive to expand the platforms for the voice of his indigenous nation, amplifying and celebrating uniquely Maori world views.

Widely recognized as an esteemed composer of over 200 waiata, haka and mōteatea (songs, verses and chants), Ruha is acknowledged by his tribal elders and helmsmen as possessing “a genius that lies in the rare ability of weaving together sound and rhythm to conjure emotions that bring to life the lyrics of the song,” said Rikirangi Gage.

Haapu is an Auckland-based pianist, guitarist and singer-songwriter, with a velvet voice, a soul for inventive melodies, provocative storytelling, and arrangements that don’t quite go where you expect. Of Maori and Tahitian descent, Haapu released his debut recording in 2011, showcasing soulful laments to throwback R&B, from keyboard rhapsodies to alternative pop. His self-titled debut album was nominated for an NZ Music Award, and NZ Musician magazine described it as “an expertly crafted pop album.” While recording his newest creations, he has opened for John Legend and toured internationally with Rika and Ruha.


Tickets are $25, $48 and $68 and available for purchase at the Kahilu Box Office (808) 885-6868, in person at 67-1186 Lindsey Road in Kamuela or online.

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