Music has always played a huge part in my life. As a child I strummed my first guitar at 4 years old. My mothers younger brother had migrated to New Zealand from the Cook Islands and he had brought his guitar. He would let me strum at the strings and I would sing a song making up the lyrics as I would go along. It wasn’t till I was 5 years of age when he taught me my first chords, D,G and A.
All songs consist of 3 main chords and the fill ins are minor and major chords. I was playing and singing like a pro at only 8 years of age. I loved writing songs alongside with composing music by that age and it wouldn’t necessarily be about life experiences, but more so about my imaginations. Funny as it sounds but when I now listen to groups such as Cold Play’s song “A sky full of stars”, yeah that was the kind of lyrics I would write and music I would compose.
I also went on to playing the piano, I played a lot better by ear than reading music off a sheet , however I did learn how to read music in Intermediate and College. I would also participate in school productions, either in acting, singing or playing the guitar and piano. One school production my beautiful younger sister Clara played the part as “Beauty” in “Beauty and the Beast” and so I took part in the band and played the piano for the theme song, sung by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson. My parents were so proud of both of us taking part in something together. I really wanted my sister to shine and just feel the love and support from me as her older sister. She looked absolutely stunning, waltzing to this song as I played for her.
Music is so significant, it signifies moments in our lives, expressions of emotions and memories. I cannot remember where I have placed things at times but you ask me what I was doing 20 years ago, I can tell you by recollection of what song or music I was listening to on the radio or television at that time. Everyone needs music in their lives, it’s the one language we can all understand and relate too.
My parents would always have us children singing songs, music was always alive in our home. We grew up without a television and only listened to radio Rhema, a Christian radio station in New Zealand in the late 70’s, early 80’s, but that was okay because we were content with that. I loved listening to my father sing, he sounded like a Tenor opera singer. He had power and authority in his voice, but when speaking to us he had a gentle and kind voice, like he still does.
My two sisters and I would always practice songs during the week to perform an item at church each Sunday and we loved doing that. Our harmonies were always in sync and timing was impeccable, Clara would sing the melody, Eli would sing soprano and I would sing alto because neither of my sisters could reach the low notes haha! Relatives and friends would ask us to sing at weddings, birthdays, you name it, we were there singing.
I then went on to singing backup vocals in a band for eleven years and loved every moment of it. Singing alongside professional musicians is such an amazing feeling. Being on stage was a thrill and a privilege, but on the down side I missed out on immediate and extended family events and occasions. But when I could, I would attend family gatherings, even if I turned up an hour before finishing time. We were such a happy go lucky type of band but a committed one at that, always being punctual for practices and gig dates. All we wanted to do was to share our love for music and that’s what I appreciated about my friends in the band. We still strongly keep in touch with each other. Below is a YouTube video of one of our recordings. By the way, I was 7 months pregnant with my daughter while doing this track, very hard to breathe when you’re trying to use your diaphragm to sing ha!
My husband then asked me to do an album with his older brother Mata and so I made time to do that for him, not realising how much this album has now meant so much to him. ‘My brother-in-law passed away to cancer in 2012 and I’m so glad that I did this album with him. My dear husband occasionally listens to his brothers other albums, just to hear his voice. How music is also a lifesaver, reminding us of our lost loved ones. Mata was very popular amongst the French Polynesian and Cook Island music listeners. Everyday we miss his jovial laugh and his joking attitude. This YouTube video clip is from our album “Matahina Roots” taken from our names but is also a Manihikian ancestress of ours. The song he is singing is an old French Polynesian song describing how a person feels dead without his lovely maiden.
When I gave birth to my daughter in 2002, my life was complete. The music was sweeter and it had more meaning. I would sing to her while she was in my stomach and when she was born I continued to sing to her. I still sing to her now and it always soothes her before bedtime, or when she’s not well and sick. Music is my best friend, it has always been there for me during my sad and happy times.
I had the last waltz with you, two lonely people together. I fell in love with you, the last waltz should last forever!.