Te Vaka

Te Vaka


"Adrenaline-powered, bare-midriffed, percussion-pulsed, infectiously happy, beautiful people bringing ancient traditions into the modern world.." Maui News USA


Te Vaka is a unique group of twelve musicians and dancers from Tokelau, Tuvalu, Samoa, Cook Islands, and New Zealand bought together under the inspired leadership of Opetaia Foa’i, “one of New Zealand’s finest song writers”. (NZ Listener).

Te Vaka has toured the world constantly since 1997, released four internationally acclaimed albums - Te Vaka, Ki mua , Nukukehe, and Tutuki performed in 30 countries, headlined Music festivals and WOMAD festivals around the world and been nominated for two BBC Radio 3 World Music awards as well as three Tui Awards in NZ.

Te Vaka’s music always embraces Oceanic roots. The highly talented musicians look to their Polynesian heritage for inspiration.

The show is dynamic, it ranges from drummers beating out explosive Polynesian rhythms with breathtaking syncronisation to ballads drenched in warmth and emotion and a lot of fun in between. The costume changes are wild, the pace is fast. There is something in a Te Vaka show for everyone.

The length of the show is 60 - 90 mins. ( can be more or less depending on requirements) The show is suited to a large outdoor venue but can be just as successful in a 200 seater theatre, however, the stage must be minimum 7 metres wide by 6 metres deep and larger is preferable for the full show.

TE VAKA’s creative source - OPETAIA FOA’I - speaks about hismusic and inspiration

“I was fortunate to have grown up in a place where I was exposed to Tokelauan*, Tuvaluan* and Samoan* traditional music and dance. This was the music that captured my heart and I grew to love.

Arriving in New Zealand at the age of nine, I was further exposed to other styles of music, for example: Jimi Hendrix and Joan Armatrading were two of my favourite artists.

I am now at a point in my life where I feel my musical journey has come full circle. I have purposefully retuned the guitar to open tuning as that was how I originally played it in Samoa. I’ve also used a Polynesian language (Tokelau) to express different aspects of Polynesia in the most honest and natural way I can. Although I speak English, Samoan and Tuvaluan as well, I was brought up in a Tokelauan community and I found this to be the most comfortable language for my song writing.

My main source of inspiration comes from speaking to the old people and extracting information passed to them by their parents. This valuable information is then put into music and preserved for the coming generations to appreciate. This is a very important part of my writing.

It is very fortunate that my music is appreciated by people from many cultural backgrounds here in New Zealand and internationally. It appears that the language is not a barrier and the music communicates all by itself, supported by the fact that I have achieved a worldwide distribution with my first and second album.

Many celebrity musicians have made comments on the potential of the Pacific including Quincey Jones when he visited New Zealand a few years ago. He was quoted as saying something to the effect of, “The next great musical movement to impress the world will come from the Pacific.”

I feel this statement has a lot of truth in it and if Te Vaka can be part of a group of artists working to achieve or make that prediction come true then I will not only feel privileged but very satisfied at achieving much of my goal as a Polynesian artist.”


1997 - first Te Vaka album was released worldwide
"Te Vaka"

1999 - second Te Vaka album "Ki mua" contained no.1
single "Pate Pate"

2002 - third Te Vaka album "Nukukehe" nominated for Best Roots album

2004 - fourth Te Vaka album "Tutuki" winner of Best Pacific Music Album, entered European World music chart at No. 4

Set List

The Te Vaka show can be anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. It can be performed in a large outdoor stadium as a straight 2 hour show or in a theatre can be broken down into 2 x 45/50 minute sets. All the songs are original except one or two traditional songs that have been re-arranged for the show.

The sets can also be taylored to be more traditonally influenced for World music audiences or can be taylored for more rock /dance venues but with a Pacific flavour.