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Byron Shire
July 23, 2024

Finding her Tribe

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Mandy Nolan

My mountain greets your mountain, my river greets your river, my Tribe greets your Tribe.

Prepare to be immersed in the powerful sounds of Moana and the Tribe under the stars at Boomerang. Moana Maniapoto has one of the most distinctive, articulate and significant Maori voices and has travelled the globe with her ground-breaking 90s band Moana and the Moahunters and more recently Moana & the Tribe, creating an incredible impression with their modern groove, raw energy of live haka, and often politically conscious music.

Can you tell me what the essence of a good song is for you?

It has the power to move me.

How do you approach your music making?

I’m inspired by what goes on around me within my communities. I write some lyrics on a scrap of paper, experiment with melody, record snippets on my iPhone, practise singing around my four-year-old. If I overhear her singing it, then I figure that it’s good enough to take to my latest collaborator, producer/musician Paddy Free. We figure out how the finished song should sound live and the band builds upon that.

How do you manage to be politically conscious and still very accessible and modern? 

When my friends and I get together, we talk politics. Everyone is driven to make a difference whether it’s at a grassroots or a national or international level. Same with music – it’s very much a team effort.

What do you think audiences get from Moana & The Tribe?

I’d like to think our passion and pride reflects theirs.

12002013-Moana-B-Mangere-left-_MG_3773-c--2MB-by-Alistair-Keddie-300dpiAs an indigenous woman, what stories or connections do you share with the wider community?

I just wrote a song called ‘Warrior Woman’ and it’s dedicated to all the women I know who are making a difference as health advocates, educationists, politicians, cultural activists – while holding their own families together. I know so many women like this who have a big-picture, long-term vision while dealing with daily details of making sure their kids are okay, schools are doing their job, bills are paid, partners are taken care of, being involved with their tribe or nation. That’s the reality of being a modern day Warrior Woman, particularly for indigenous women.

An older song that we have brought back into our set is AEIOU. It talks about the importance of holding onto the language and pronouncing words correctly. This song resonated even in Germany with many people talking to me about the various dialects and how people fight to hold onto them.

What do you think the wider community could learn from indigenous communities?

Everything. But particularly about the importance to our survival of balance.

You are also a filmmaker and director and writer. How do you get the time for all of your creativity? 

My husband Toby is the real filmmaker of the family; he has taught me so much. I love storytelling and am lucky that music, film and writing give me the opportunity to share experiences or tell stories.

Finding time is really difficult and one of my biggest personal challenges. I’m trying to change my life to give me more freedom to be creative and enjoy my family, with less time devoted to the business and administrative side of things, which is hugely draining.

Does one feed the other, or are you single-focused? 

Everything is interconnected.

What is a perfect day for Moana?

Okay – now you’ve got my creative juices running! A sunny day sharing a beautiful brunch with my family, throwing in a Thai massage somewhere to relax before a big performance in front of a fantastic audience in some exotic location. Note that there’s no mention of sound check.

Dinner would be long Italian/Maori feast with my band, friends and nice people we just met that day. We would also be celebrating a change in government in New Zealand…

After being inspired by and dancing to another band recommended by Sol (who has the best music taste!) and three perfect Cuban Mojito later, we’d all be saying, ‘What a great day at the Office…’

What should we expect for your Boomerang show?

To move – or be moved… 

4–6 October



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