Ihimaera - Teremoana Rapley interview

  • Breaking
  • 02/03/2011

By Ren Kirk

Ihimaera is a Charlotte Yates Production which has its world premiere tomorrow night at the Auckland Arts Festival.

In this unique concert, twelve of New Zealand's best contemporary recording artists come together for four very special nights to perform songs inspired by the rare and moving words of iconic Maori writer Witi Ihimaera.

From King Kapisi to Horomona Horo, Teremoana Rapley to SJD, amazing Kiwi musos create songs with lyrics by Ihimaera.

Setting his words in a wide range of styles, this concert showcases Ihimaera's distinctive and powerful evocations of life in Aotearoa and the impressive diversity of New Zealand music.

In its fusion of great literature and outstanding musical talent, Ihimaera is a phenomenal feat of artistry.

Narrated by star of Outrageous Fortune star Kirk Torrance and produced by Charlotte Yates, the creator of Baxter (2000) and Tuwhare (2006), Ihimaera gives the author's words an exciting new wardrobe of sound.

A special Auckland Arts Festival commission, Ihimaera receives its world-premiere in 2011. A CD of songs from the show has also just been released by Universal Music NZ.

I had a chat with Teremoana Rapley about her experience as part of Ihimaera.

And what would you do if you weren’t doing music, if you could do or be anything else in the world?
I am a full time television producer amongst event management and other things I do to pay the bills – so I am pretty much doing what I want to do while I am doing music.

Have you performed for the Auckland Arts Festival before?

What are you most looking forward to about being part of it?
With the work ethic I need to maintain I don’t actually have time to do much else but work, so this provides a unique opportunity and I am looking forward to having my family attend the performances. I rarely get to perform in NZ where my family can come and watch.

Ihimaera brings together an amazing group of musicians, has it been a collaborative process putting this together?
Not so much. I worked on my track with Bill Urale, because we live in the same house -and that collaborative process is an experience in itself!

Has it been a different experience working on this; different to rehearsing for one of your own gigs?
I think the most difficult part has been remembering the words! We are in effect reciting someone else’s emotions and thoughts – and though I can adapt those words and emotions there is still a little disconnection.

Do you think that working with different musicians helps contribute to the piece?
Everyone’s own creative interpretation always contribute something unique.

Have you worked with most of these musicians before?
Not really, but I know of them. I did a track with Unitone Hi-Fi in the 90’s and toured with Scalper in 2009 (but first met the brother when he was in the U.K group Fun-da-mental in the 90’s). I met LA Mitchell backstage at an APRA Silver Scrolls awards a couple of years ago and love her music she is an incredible artist. I met Ruia when I was in Moana and the Moahunters in the late 80’s, met Ariana last year at SOUNDS Aotearoa and have admired Charlotte Yates since first seeing her in When the Cats been Spayed in the late 80’s.

Are there any you haven’t worked with before?
Lupin, The Twinks, Warren Maxwell and Horomona Horo – although I have worked with him in a television capacity.

In your own words, how would you describe Ihimaera?
A fantastic, whimscal, magical, mystery tour.

What do you think the audience will really enjoy about this performance?
The journey that they will experience throughout the 90 minutes.

Do you think that the Auckland Arts Festival is a good platform for providing the opportunity for this sort of project?
Yes, it’s a fantastic platform.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learnt on a personal level from being involved in this project?
Getting over the fear of messing up someone else’s words.


Ihimaera is playing as part of the Auckland Arts Festival.

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