MOANA & THE TRIBE: The Best Of
By Jacob Connor
Two decades of music making, international awards and a nod from the Queen. I’ve thought of Moana Maniapoto as a pop artist, but this collection proves that the message trumps the medium. She has consistently espoused issues pertinent to Maoridom. While early efforts were aimed at the charts, the band’s sound matured over time to embrace a world/roots music aesthetic. I was surprised how familiar the songs are. Her biggest popular hit, Black Pearl is perhaps the most dated production with its glassy synth and drum samples. Treaty presents overt politics with a slap bass funk sheen. Moana’s voice has a finite range, but she uses what she has to good effect. Her band The Moahunters transmogrified to The Tribe in the early 2000’s and the change benefits the sound, moving to spare instrumentation including traditional Maori instruments and haka. Kahu is beautiful, centered around solitary voice and guitar. Te Po is similarly moving and haunting. This compilation has backbone, depth and information, the musical journey resonates with the history of ‘Maori solidarity’. Get past occasional awkward raps and proselytising and there are rich rewards to be uncovered. The booklet includes personal and geneological histories and a mini biography.