The Modern Māori Quartet: From rags to flash rags

They've performed all over the world, from Malaysia to Uzbekistan. Now five years after getting together, the Modern Māori Quartet have just released their debut album That's Us.

They say the album tells Kiwi stories through original waiata.

"I think they're songs that easily connect with people. It's just full of love, full of joy and it's such a unique Kiwi vibe and sound," says group member Francis Kora.

They say they're a contemporary twist to the show bands they grew up on. 

"They heroes that we grew up on were the Māori show bands," says Maaka Pohatu. "And also as children we grew up listening to our fathers at garage parties. There's a lot of story-telling there, a lot of heart there."

The Modern Māori quartet's story is described as "rags" to "flash rags". When they started out they received $50 for their first gig.

"Two of us couldn't make it so it was the Modern Māori Duet. So it was $50 split between the two of us. We had a manager at the time so I think it was a three-way split," says group member Matariki Whatarau.

Now five years later, they say there's a main aim when it comes to pleasing crowds.

"We want people to feel like they're our family, they're our whanau and that's how we measure the success of our shows," says group member James Tito. "If the audience members start as strangers but feel like they're part of our whanau, then that's been a very successful show for us."

They start their album tour in Hamilton on September 17.