Singing her latest single entirely in Te Reo Māori is a highlight in itself for Kāwhia artist Manuka, and any lack of understanding of the lyrics to E Te Tau is no impediment to listeners’ enjoyment of it as a languid, loving pop song. (Besides, there’s an easy fix – read on.) Recognising the uncluttered natural beauty of the single, NZ On Air Music included it on their NewTracks compilation this October.
Te Huamanuka Luiten-Apirana, from Kāwhia Moana. I mostly sing and play the guitar, but I have a good ear, so I can usually figure out other instruments if I’m just jamming.
I took violin lessons as a child and was involved in choir and bands as a teenager, so that definitely helped with my confidence to perform and tune my ear. Taylor Swift was my idol and I taught myself to play guitar so I could sing her songs all day!
I have some other singles on Spotify but I’m relatively new to the music world!
I have always loved singing and songwriting, but after school I decided to pursue acting instead. Now that I’m a bit older I’m branching out to music and it’s really lovely to have a creative outlet that doesn’t have the pressure of earning me a living like my other work in the arts industry does. I make my music for myself. If others happen to love it, that’s really awesome. But at the end of the day, I’m just happy when I can listen to a track over and over and love every part of it.
Oh gosh, I do not want to ever share how terrible my first lyrics were. But I guess that’s what happens when you pair a Taylor Swift lover-in the feels-not many friends teenager with a pen and a paper. I like to keep my lyrics simple and be vulnerable. It’s even more special now that I’ve finished my immersion Te Reo course because I can write in Māori. I’m definitely still no expert, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do my whole life, and now I finally can.
Manuka is the shortened version of Te Huamanuka, so I’ve just dropped the last name.
This is my highlight! To be able to release a single in Te Reo and to hear how people are enjoying it and wanting to play it and share it is really special. Aotearoa has come a long way in the past few years and it’s a good time to be a bilingual artist.
I love that pop music in Te Reo is becoming a more common thing, and I think that’s what is cool about E Te Tau – I’m really proud of the lyrics. It’s groovy but chill and has nice harmonies. It’s great for background music but also for jamming along full blast in the car. It also has its sister song, My Baby & Me, for anyone who wants to listen to the translated version.
E Te Tau is a love song I wrote for my partner Jordan. He’s really special and I’ve known it from the beginning. I actually wrote the song for him in English for his birthday a few years ago and have finally translated it. He doesn’t speak te reo yet so it’s a beautiful story to unpack slowly as he learns.
Gosh, so many! To any non-reo speakers, the English translation really doesn’t do it justice. It’s deep and beautiful and full of love and feeling. The chorus ‘E rere ana ki Rangi Tūhāhā ia rā ki tōu taha’, says ‘I fly to the highest heavens every day with you’. But I also have another favourite in verse two, ‘te kaiurungi o tōku manawa’, which means the navigator of my heart.
I recorded vocals in the Parachute Studios with my producer Edy On The Beat. Edy is absolutely incredible at what he does, and over a few years we’ve gotten really good at tuning to each other. I send him a voice memo with just my lyrics and guitar and he comes up with an awesome track. With E Te Tau it’s the quickest we’ve ever spent in the studio!
Just to enjoy listening to it – that’s what I do! And to make sure you tell those you love that you appreciate it and don’t take it for granted.
Honestly, I just choose a whatever song is my favourite to play that I’ve written recently and then record it. I don’t think much into it at all, I don’t have any kind of strategy, I just follow my heart.
I work with Edy a lot, but in terms of my team – it’s just me. And I like it that way, it means I’m calling all the shots and can see my vision through to the end product.
I’d love to release more Māori music, but currently my music doesn’t make much money, so each song is an investment I save hard for. Stream it e te whānau, so I can put out some new tracks!
NewTracks is very accessible and easy to follow – I encourage everyone to give it a go! Just keep giving it a shot. Especially as a new, independent artist, there’s so much choice and competition out there, but it’s important to not be discouraged and keep putting your name out there!