"In the landscape of New Zealand music, one genre stands out: music by Maori artists, which is a solid cornerstone, and within itself powerfully diverse. One of the most distinctive, articulate and significant Maori voices is Moana Maniapoto who - first with Moana and the Moahunters and latterly as Moana & the Tribe - has taken her often politically conscious music to festivals across the world." (Graham Reid)
Formed in 2002, Moana & the Tribe has played hundreds of stages in Istanbul, Moscow, Florence, Berlin, Warsaw, Toronto, Venice, Shanghai, Seoul, Vienna, Toronto and Taipei. They have taken their haka-funk-dub-fusion to the Herodus Atticus (Athens), Sydney Opera House (Australia) as well as to the Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland), Sziget (Budapest), Sarawak and Norway.
In 2003, Moana became the first non-American to win a major USA based songwriting contest with her song Moko. Moana beat over 11,000 compositions to win the Grand Jury Prize of the International Songwriting Competition.
Moana is a recipient of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM), a Life Time Recipient of the Toi Iho Maori Made Mark (denoting authenticity and quality) and received the 2005 Te Tohu Mahi Hou a Te Waka Toi Award from Te Waka Toi (Creative New Zealand) in recognition of ‘outstanding leadership and contribution to the development of new directions in Maori art.’
In 2007, Moana joined four other outstanding artists who were made Art Laureates by the NZ Arts Foundation. The following year, Moana was honoured by the Waiata Maori Music Awards for her special contribution to the Maori music industry.
The band was invited to represent NZ in the tri-nation Boomerang Project, which was launched at Womad NZ and were described by the NZ Herald as "the most powerful, enjoyable and important act on the mainstage at Womad 2014 delivering a thumping, visually powerful and cleverly calculated implosion of waiata, haka and electronic-flavoured soul-funk."
The collaboration played at the Sydney Opera House, then as part of the Glasgow 2014 Festival.
More recently, Moana & the Tribe have played in Australia and Vanuatu. Meanwhile, TŪ (the electronica duo of Paddy Free and Moana) launched itself internationally at festivals in Finland and Taiwan during 2017.
On the home-front, Moana, her sister Trina and other band members completed a successful first tour of New Zealand that same year. Their project My Name is Moana will have the band playing 24 concerts around NZ in May/June 2019 through Arts on Tour.
Offstage, Moana is one half of an award-winning documentary team led by her partner and band member Toby Mills. Recent documentaries include ‘Guarding the Family Silver’, which screened in the National Geographic All Roads Film Festival and ‘The Russians are Coming’ which played at the Sydney Opera House during Message Sticks (2012). The Negotiators, her 7-part documentary series about treaty settlements, has been a year in the making. It screens on Māori Television in 2019.
Moana is a writer and trustee of Mana Trust which produces the weekly E-Tangata. Moana is one of six women featured in Conversations, an E-Tangata/Tawera Productions collaboration showcased through the NZ Herald for International Women’s Day 2019.
Moana was the 2016 inductee into the APRA Music Hall of Fame. The ceremony took place at the APRA Silver Scroll Awards, an annual event that recognises excellence in songwriting and composition across genres.
In 2019, Moana was acknowledged by University of Auckland as one of four Distinguished Alumni.
Independent Music NZ also announced Tahi (Moana & the Moahunters) as the 2019 recipient of the Classic Record, which aims to acknowledges albums that continue to inspire us and that also define who we are.
ONO, produced with Paddy Free, is Moana’s sixth studio album and is set for release this year.
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