Maori Opera singer returns home to inspire youth

Opera singer Kawiti Waetford has entertained crowds on some of the most prestigious stages in the world. A protégé of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, the baritone's future in the operatic world is bright.

But his love for te ao Māori - the Māori world - is ever-present and is a song that sings loudly in his heart.

Mr Waetford has returned home to Matapouri in the north to work with rangatahi Māori in his community.

A master's graduate from the Wales International Academy of Voice, after five years in the UK the talented singer returns from his studies in Italy, following the song in his heart.



While based in Whāngārei, he is mentoring Māori youth with a special focus on the revitalisation of te reo Māori.



Mr Waetford told Three's The Hui that there is "huge benefit in my work in exemplifying how cool our language and culture is".

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa has played a significant role in Mr Waetford's career development, and encourages his efforts.

"She saw the benefits in my decision to give back to my people here, given I was raised in my culture," he says. "She supported and encouraged the move."

He says while his immediate future is in Aotearoa, the road to the international stage is a long one.

"I will continue to sing. My lips, my heart, my mind and my soul will never stop singing," he explained.

"It feeds my soul and people love hearing it."

Watch the full segment on The Hui.