A couple's love affair with waiata Māori

By Tema Hemi
  • Wellington

A couples love for one another has influenced their passion for Māori music for more than three decades.  Toni Huata and husband Adrian Wagner are celebrating NZ Music Month of May with the release of their new music video, Tahuri Mai

Where words fail, music speaks.  

Wagner says, "We met in an elevator and we were both on our way to Te Puni Kōkiri.  I entered the elevator and greeted her and her friends.  I said 'kia ora' and gave them a kiss. When I got to Toni I thought I'd be cheeky and I kissed her on the lips."

Despite being taken aback by the very bold young Māori man she had just met, Huata knew that Adrian was the one for her.  

"My initial thoughts were 'he's a cheeky guy' and one of my friends asked me, 'do you think he's the one for you?' and I got cheeky back and I replied, 'nah he looks too young!'"

It was the sweet sound of music that allowed them to express their emotion for one another.  

The single, Tahuri Mai,  is about their life together.  It features on Huata's latest album, Te Rerenga.  The music video was produced by Paddy Free, filmed by Motion Valley and funded by Te Māngai Pāho. 

"When I wrote the song, I was listening to the group The Emotions, to their song, Flowers, and I thought that would be a suitable type of song for Toni and her voice," Wagner says. 

"I thought about the times we together overseas, when we were in the islands," say Huata, "So these are the things I wanted featured in this music video."

Music has also allowed the couple to express their passion for Māori initiatives and issues which remain at the forefront of compositions.  This year, Huata was appointed as Kaihautū Puoro Māori at Sounz Centre for New Zealand Music

"My role here at Sounz is to follow up, get hold of, approach, gather and capture our Māori composers," says Huata.

Wagner says, "We are still very passionate about all things Māori, it's our love for the language."

The music video for Tahuri Mai was released on Mothers Day.