Te Vaka
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Te Vaka

Wailuku, Hawaii, United States | INDIE

Wailuku, Hawaii, United States | INDIE
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"The canoe skipper"

OPETAIA FOA'I continues to guide with ease what can only be described as one of the greatest South Pacific bands of all time - Te Vaka.

Since the establishment of the group in New Zealand 15 years ago, Te Vaka's music has encapsulated the heart and soul of the Pacific, Polynesia specifically.

And, in the process, it has crushed underfoot once and for all the widely-held perception that Pacific music is only about ukeleles and hip-swaying hula girls.

With his trademark open-key acoustic guitar, Foa'i steers Te Vaka - "The Canoe" - up several notches with the release of their latest South Pacific fusion CD Haoloto - their sixth since their self-titled debut album in 1997.

But in doing so, the band doesn't stray an inch from the world-renowned Te Vaka tradition of adrenaline-pumped tribal percussions and soft-rockish ballads that pack the potential to pop goosebumps, or even reduce one to tears.

While categorised "world music", several of the 15-track CD are definitely crossover material, particularly the anti-drug cut Well ... you lied,which lead female vocalist Olivia Foa'i delivers with a passionate, forceful grace.

The vocal arrangement here is eerily reminiscent of the 1992 Herbs and Annie Crummer collaboration See What Love Can Do.

In an acknowledgement on the CD sleeve, Opetaia describes the record as "the most challenging and most satisfying of all the Te Vaka albums".

He says: "Once the canoe got rolling with all on board, there was a feeling that we were heading for somewhere special".

Te Vaka has also been heading all over the world since day one. The multi-award-winning ensemble has globe-trotted ceaselessly and performed at prestigious venues in Europe, the Rugby World Cup in Paris, the Beijing Olympics, the United States and throughout the region.

Haoloto is a special dedication to the victims of the tsunami in Tonga and Samoa and the earthquakes that claimed over a thousand lives in Indonesia.

Opetaia writes: "We owe much to groups like the Red Cross, Oxfam and the Volunteer Ministers (the flash of yellow) and all other emergency response groups like them.

"It is with great respect for their hard work and care that I dedicate this album to them."

But most of all, in this writer's humble opinion, the music of Te Vaka is a kind of rallying call for people of the Pacific diaspora, no matter where in the world they have established their new Jerusalem. - Fiji Times

"Making the SCENE"

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

"UK Review"

The best, and internationally most successful of all modern Polynesian bands is TE VAKA. - The Rough Guide To World Music

"New Zealand Review"

Te Vaka’s music always embraces indigenous Oceanic roots. The highly talented musicians sensibly look to their rich Polynesian heritage for inspiration. The seamless cohesion of the band, drawn from such diverse cultures, is a political statement as well as an artistic one. All paddling in the same direction Te Vaka sails straight and true. The sustained standing ovation at the conclusion of the show (and a haka by one section of the audience) spoke volumes about the power this band has to talk across cultures. A festival highlight. - Bay of Plenty Times

"Los Angeles Review"

…a refreshing antidote to much of today’s self-obsessed pop. - LA Daily News

"UK Review 2"

One of the most dynamic live
experiences I have ever witnessed. - The Guardian, UK

"Review of music"

Te Vaka’s forceful rhythms, inspired melodies, and heartfelt songwriting offer a long - overdue, stereotype-smashing glimpse into the true soul of the South Seas. - j.poet - Wired Magazine USA


Havili 2011
Haoloto 2009
Olatia 2007
Tutuki 2004
Nukukehe 2002
Ki mua 1999
Te Vaka 1997

Te Vaka Live In Concert 2006
Live at Apia Park 2003



Te Vaka is a group of musicians and dancers from Tokelau, Tuvalu, Samoa, Cook Islands and New Zealand brought together under the inspired leadership of Opetaia Foa'i. Te Vaka has been enchanting the world with their own brand of South Pacific Fusion since 1997. Using the rhythms of the log drum ("pate"), combined with traditional and contemporary instruments, Opetaia Foa'i and the band deliver a kaleidoscopic array of Pacific flavors in a genre all of its own.

Te Vaka has toured the UK, Europe, USA & other parts of the world extensively over the last 15 years, performing in such prestigious venues as Londons Royal Festival Hall and Ronnie Scotts nightclub. The group has headlined music festivals throughout Europe and been favourites at WOMAD festivals around the world including the WOMAD Festival in Seattle, USA. They are in demand for many important world events and have represented New Zealand and the South Pacific with performances for the Americas cup events in Auckland, the Commonwealth games in Melbourne, the Rugby World Cup in Paris and the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Opetaia Foai is the songwriter/ lead vocalist of the group. The inspiration for his music comes from his multi-cultural upbringing - half Tokelauan, half Tuvaluan, born in Samoa and bought up in a Tokelauan community in New Zealand. Opetaias musical background spans both the traditional and the diverse influences of contemporary metropolitan culture. Described as one of New Zealands finest songwriters and a true son of the Pacific, he won the Senior Pacific Artist award in 2005 for his contribution to the Pacific Arts.

Te Vaka has performed in 40 countries around the world and released seven internationally acclaimed albums to date. The first released in 1997 through ARC Music, a UK based record company, gained immediate worldwide success and recognition for the group and was distributed to over 80 countries. The second album, released in 1999 through Warm Earth Records created an even bigger impact going to number one on world music charts and on mainstream radio in the South Pacific. The third album, released in May 2002, was described as Phenomenal and gained the group a nomination in Best Roots category in the New Zealand music awards and nominations for BBC 3 World music awards in the UK. The 4th album Tutuki , entered the European World Music Charts at no. 4 & the USA Global Rhythm top 10 chart at No. 3. It won a Tui for Best Pacific Music Album in the New Zealand music awards as well as Songwriting Awards in both the USA and Australia. The fifth Te Vaka album Olatia, released in July 2007 entered the European World Music Chart at No. 4 and won a Tui for Best Pacific Album in the 2008 Pacific Music Awards. Sixth album Haoloto released in 2009, won 2 awards -Best Pacific Group 2010 and Best Pacific language song and 7th Album Havili released in 2011, is receiving rave reviews and a track from the album has won second place in the USA songwriting completion. ISC. The band has recently completed two very successful tours of North America with further tours in the pipeline for 2013.