Taking Tokelauan Music to the World
Te Vaka which means 'The Canoe' is an apt name for this Tokelauan group which have literally sailed the seas to international musical success.
The huge impact which Te Vaka has made with their unique style of music and dance has brought a breath of fresh air and shattered the stereotypical character of Pacific people commonly portrayed with guitars and hula skirts. As some musical columnists throughout the world have outlined, Te Vaka has sailed high on the crest of the musical wave of world music taking Pacific music with them.
In 2001, Te Vaka will be releasing their fourth album and are currently experimenting with new sounds, music and dance to add to their ever-increasing unique Pacific sound. They are booked to return to the United Kingdom and Europe as well as take their show through Australia.
TE VAKA, led by Opetaia Foa'i, has taken original, traditionally influenced, contemporary Pacific music to the world and firmly placed their homeland of Tokelau on the international stage. Te Vaka is not just a band playing music from the Pacific, it is a musical experience, doing for ethnic Pacific peoples what Riverdance did for Ireland.
Following the success of their first two albums, Te Vaka (1997) and Ki Mua (1999), the band has toured the world extensively over the last couple of years to promote their Pacific style of music in Europe, the United States, Australia, the Pacific and New Zealand. Acclaimed world-wide for their original style and powerful tribal, rootsy feel, Te Vaka's music extends racial boundaries and promotes Pacific music to the world.
Although based in Auckland, the band's music is inspired by the Pacific Islands, particularly the islands of Tokelau and Tuvalu from where band leader Opetaia's family originates.
Opetaia is Te Vaka's lead guitarist, percussionist, male singer and songwriter. He also co-produces and arranges all the band's material. Of Tokelauan and Tuvaluan descent, Opetaia was brought up in Samoa where he was exposed to Tokelauan, Tuvaluan and Samoan traditional music and dance. Like most Pacific people in the 1960's emigrating to New Zealand provided more opportunities and a stable working environment, it also provided opportunities to learn other music styles for Opetaia. Copying European and American styles of music, he gained his first residency at a nightclub when he was 15, and although he played these musical styles for the next two decades, he was never really comfortable with playing a style that belonged to someone else, preferring to return to his musical origins as a Polynesian.
Opetaia's music has now come full circle, through Te Vaka, returning him to his roots of original, Pacific music. The result is Te Vaka's self-described 'original, contemporary Pacific music'. The songs, written by Opetaia, are sung in Tokelauan and combine modern melodies with traditional instruments with an emphasis on the traditional Pacific log drum or 'Pate'. Their music is a powerfully personal combination of strong Pacific rhythms laced with emotion and respect for their cultural heritage.
As Te Vaka's main songwriter, Opetaia's main source of inspiration comes from the tales and stories of the Tokelau people handed down from generation to generation. Pacific elderly have been the wise storehouses of this valuable information that is put to music and preserved for future generations to appreciate. This is an important part of song writing as is the foundation from which the final material is produced.
Molimoliga o na Muhika Tokelau ki te Lalolagi
Ko te uiga o te Te Vaka, ko he igoa e talafeagai ma te vaega tenei kua ia 'folauaua' ia palega ma kua fakamanuiagia I ana muhika fakavaomalo.
Ko te huiga lahi na fai e te Tevaka i ana muhika ma ana hakaga uigatukehe, ko te toe kaumaiga o he manogi fou, ke tukimomo ai na fakauigaga mahani e fai ki tagata Pahefika, e mahani lava oi fakakitea fakatahi ma alatou kitala, ma olatou titi. E ve ko te mau a ietahi tino e gafa ma na tuhituhiga tau muhika I te lalolagi, ko Te Tevaka e fakahekeheke fakatuagalu I malua fakamuhika o te lalolagi, ma molimoli atu ai lava ia muhika a te Pahefika e ki latou.
Ka fakahalalau e te Te Vaka tana papehe tona fa I te 2001, ma, I te taimi nei, e fai ana fakatakitakiga mo ni itukaiga leo, ni muhika ma ni hiva fou ke fakaopoopo atu ki te lahi o ana muhika uigatukehe faka-Pahefika. Kua hauni ke toe taliu atu ki Peletania ma Eulopa, fakatahi ai ma ni ana hauniuniga mo hana tamilohaga I Auhetalia.
Ko te Tevaka, I lalo o te takitakiga a Opetaia Foa'i, na ia kavatua ki na malae-muhika fakavaomalo I te lalolagi ni muhika fou na takina I ni lagona fakaaganuku. Ni muhika Pahefika fakaonaponei e fakavae lava ki tona atunuku, ko Tokelau. Ko te Te Vaka e he veake ko he faili lava e tagia ia muhika a te Pahefika; he iloa fakamuhika. Ko ana hikihikiga e fai ki tagata kehekehe o te Pahefika, e tutuha lava ma te galuega a te Riverdance nae fai ki Aialani.
Ona ko te manuia o ana taumafaiga I ana papehe muamua e lua, Te Vaka (1997) ma te Te Vaka (1999), na fai tana tua (tamilohaga) I te lalolagi I na tauhaga e lua kua teka atu nei ke fakailo ai ana muhika fakapahefika I Eulopa, Auhetalia, te Pahefika ma Niuhila. E takutakua I te lalolagi katoa ona ko te fou o ana fatuga ma te malohi o te olaga fakaaganuku e fakavae kiei. E kitea I kinei ko na muhika a te Te Vaka e ahaaha I tuakoi o lanu ma gagana, ma fakailo ia muhika a te Pahefika ki te atulaulau.
E ui lava e fakamautu I Aukilani, ko na muhika a te faili e fakaohofia I na muhika a te Pahefika, kae maihe lava ia Tokelau ma Tuvalu, na nuku e tuga mai ai te kaiga o Opetai.
Ko Opetaia ko te takitaki takitala, te tapate, te uhu taulelea ma te pulotu. Ko ia foki te hoa-fakatonu e ia fakatulaga na kope o te faili. Na tupuga mai I Tokelau ma Tuvalu, ka na ola ake I Hamoa, ma ko kina tena ia kitea ai na muhika ma na hiva fakaaganuku a Tokelau ma Tuvalu ma Hamoa. E ve lava ko te tokalahiga o tagata Pahefika I te kamata mai I te 1960, na malaga mai ki Niuhila ma maua ai ni avanoa ke galue ai. Na maua ai foki he avanoa ke hukeuke ai ki ietahi itukaiga muhika. Ko ana kopiga o na muhika mai Eulopa ma Amelika, na maua tona avanoa muamua ke tata ai I he falekalapu ka koi 15 ona tauhaga. E ui lava nae ia tagia ni muhika venei mo he luahefulu tauhaga, nae he logotonu lele ia I te taga o ni muhika e a ni ietahi tino. Na fai loa tana tonu ke toe foki ki muhika a te Pahefika.
Ko te muhika a Opetaia I te taimi nei kua I he liko katoatoa, ko te Te Vaka tena toe foki mai ai ki ona aka, na muhika faka-Pahefika. Tenei kua maua mai ai te papehe e fakamatala mai I tona igaoa 'muhika faka-Pahefika fou fakaonaponei'. Ko na pehe e pulotu e Opetaia, e uhu faka-Tokelau, ma fakaaoga na fatuga fou ma na kope fakamuka fakaaganuku kae maihe lava te 'Pate'. Ko alatou muhika he opoga fakamatagia e o ni pehe ola faka-Pahefika, e hui fakatova I ni lagona alofa ma te fakaaloalo ki alatou aganuku.
Ko te puna o na mafaufauga e fakaohofia ai te pulotu, ia Opetaia, ko na tala ma na kakai Tokelau e tuku fakaholo mai I teia tupulaga ki teia tupulaga. Ko na tino matutua I te Pahefika, ko na pulotu popoto ia te teu ai na fakamatalaga taua ienei, uhu I na pehe, ma fakahao ke fiafia ai na tupulaga e fotu mai I mua. Ko he vaega taua tenei I te tuhiga o na pehe aua ko te fakavae ia e maua mai ai te pehe e maua mai ai.
© 2004 Malo Tokelau.