He is a professional musician who is making a name on the streets as a freestyle rapper. Tihei Harawira has ambitions of taking this art form all the way to the top. This week Te Kāea caught up with him on the street in Paihia.
"Paihia for me is like a real tourist attraction and meeting a lot of fans like how you saw with people from Australia and all around the world,” says Tihei. “I love entertaining my fans from Kaitaia to Paihia to Kerikeri to Otara everywhere."
Tihei shared with us that he suffers from autism and we also witnessed his amazing ability to immediately access information and facts, akin to having a photographic memory. It’s a gift that proves very handy when making up lyrics on the spot for paying customers or as they call it “freestyling”.
He says, "I’ve only been busking for six years and in that time I've been to two touch world cups three state cups two Rarotonga Sevens tournaments and spent four years at music school. I've just passed a diploma for performing arts at MIT.”
In the short time we spent with him Tihei impresses a passing police officer with a rap on road safety. He then quotes significant events and personalities in Argentinian history along with rugby results to a passing tourist before totally impressing a local girl by including her birthday details in a tune.
Tihei says, "I’ve just released a book called "Real Raw and Relatable" as part of a combination of "Humans of South Auckland". I've released 12 music videos and a documentary called Tihei which made it to Air New Zealand and National Geographic and the Discovery Channel. And I’ve opened for the likes of Big Daddy & AD from New York City."
Tihei aspires to take his talent to the the top of the entertainment industry, "My destination is New York City. Definitely New York and I've been to Australia and it's a real good scene. Next year I'm doing a tour busk to the GC to Brisbane Sydney and I also want to go to Tasmania and Adelaide. What I like most about it (freestyle rap) is just giving it a try. I’m not everyone’s favourite rapper I'm not the best I'm not the greatest I'm not number one. But you won’t know until you give it a go and that's what I do."