Born in 1961 in Invercargill, Moana Maniapoto (Ngāti Tuwharetoa/Tuhourangi/Ngāti Pikiao) is a singer/songwriter who blends taonga puoro, haka, chants with soul, reggae and classical music to produce a distinctly New Zealand sound.
Drawing on her identity as a Maori woman, and her background in traditional performing arts, Maniapoto’s songs have won and international audience.
Her band Moana & the Moahunters released two albums (‘Tahi’, ‘Rua’) in the 1990s before disbanding after headlining the prestigious Vancouver Folk Festival in 1998. Maniapoto formed Moana & the Tribe in 2002 and they quickly earned a reputation as one of Aotearoa’s most successful indigenous groups.
Moana & the Tribe have regularly played overseas, from Kanak villages in New Caledonia to major venues in Europe and the Americas. The band’s first CD ‘Toru’ (2003) entered the European World Music Charts at 17 and they followed it up a year later with the DVD Live & Proud, and in 2008 they released the album ‘Wha’.
In 2003, Maniapoto became the first non-American to win the Grand Jury Prize at the International Songwriting Competition with her song ‘Moko’. In 2004 she received the New Zealand Order of Merit, Creative New Zealand awarded her the Te Tohu Toi Kē a Te Waka Toi Award in 2005, and she was on of the 2007 Arts Foundation Laureates.