The WAI Family
Māori Electronica Roots Music
With the many great footsteps, we have followed,
and the path imprinted in our minds by those who came before us
and those who come after us we now present the journey of the WAI family.
Photos courtesy of Jeonghun Seo, Jeonju, South Korea
Tragic personal events led to partners in life and music Mina Ripia and Maaka Phat creating the now family Porirua based Māori Electronica Roots band WAI for the memory of Mina's pāpā Ture Tangata.
WAI is the Māori word for Water and is also Mina's birth name.
WAI is a startlingly original combination of the ancient and the modern.
WAI weave the Māori language with its natural percussive flow and Poi with synths and drums creating a sound as soulful and funky as any music while sounding not remotely like anything heard before.
Performing entirely in the Māori language WAI utilizes a Māori style of presenting their music not only in the structure and fusion but also in the delivery of their live show.
Internationally WAI is known and loved for their unique Māori electronica. As they traveled the world their audience and opportunities broadened and this led them to create a minimalist but very powerful acoustic performance set. Their music appeals to and has the ability to cross all boundaries regardless of language, age, colour, race or creed. Their performances create intense, personal and intimate relationships with their audiences.
Since 1999 WAI has been raising the awareness of Māori artistic expression both nationally and internationally.
WAI has performed at numerous high profile international events and has been recognized and acknowledged as innovators in their field breaking new ground and fearlessly going where no Māori language bands have been before.
By only performing 100% in Te Reo Māori WAI are one of the few original Māori music groups at the coal face of pioneering international opportunities for the development of Māori language music.
Producer’s Mina and Maaka strive to craft a distinctive Māori voice that is traditional in its inspiration, creativity, innovation and that is unique, authentic, and sounds like where it originates, AOTEAROA.
A strong reflection of cultural pride is the essence and sound of WAI.
International live performances have put WAI alongside world music greats At Adau, Nitin Sawhney, BLACKFIRE, Yat-Kha, Ojos de Brujo, Manu Chao, Yasmin Levy, Mariza, Trio Mocotó and the beautiful ADJÁGAS just to name a few.
WAI had a well-deserved break from touring internationally to have a family and to raise their son Uta Te Whanga. 2013 saw the now WAI family return to the Northern Hemisphere after receiving an invitation to return to Belgium. This their first International tour since having their beautiful son as he has been their priority. Uta Te Whanga the newest WAI member joining WAI on this tour in Belgium and Copenhagen. Internationally Uta Te Whanga has since toured Seattle, Jeonju & Seoul, South Korea, Melbourne, Australia, Charlottesville Virginia, Colorado Springs, Yilan, Taipei, and Uta Te Whanga was very excited to be heading to the Island of Borneo, Kuching, Sarawak July 2019 to take part in the Rainforest World Music Festival.
WAI 100% (2000) charmed critics at both ends of the earth and plenty of places in between. At home, it has received a string of acknowledgments for its innovative left-field approach, and the recognition has been spreading around the world.
WAI ORA (2010) celebrates the birth of Mina and Maaka's son. They decided this album should celebrate being alive and the joy that son Uta Te Whanga brings.
In contrast to their deeply personal WAI 100%, WAI ORA looks out into the world drawing from experiences and people they have been fortunate to have crossed paths with over ten years of travel that have seen them fulfill their dream of taking Māori language music to places it is rarely if ever heard.
Producers Mina and Maaka Phat would like to express their deepest thanks and appreciation to Te Māngai Pāho me ngā reo irirangi Māori o te motu. You have given us the opportunity to create these albums of Māori music and for that, we are sincerely thankful.
Special thanks to James Moss, Chris Read, and Katerina Pavlakis. We will never be able to truly express how thankful we are for all that you have done to guide and bring WAI into the world. Without you, we would have never been able to turn our dream into reality.
WHAT IS THE WORLD SAYING ABOUT WAI?
Cultural Activities (New York)
Finally, there's WAI. The most unique of all artists from a global perspective, the expanded duo combines a modern dance aesthetic and grooves with the ancient sounds of the Māori people. As evidenced by their astounding first full-length, WAI 100%, the group takes elements as widely untapped as body slapping and the sounds of nature itself and mixes them with chants, beats, and vocal that explore the full range and depth of Te Reo Māori - the language of the Māori people. Singer Mina Ripia's voice is nothing short of astonishing: the music she makes with partner Maaka Phat and others is like nothing you've heard before. But once you do hear it, it's a sound you simply won't be able to get enough of.
The Rough Guide to World Music (United Kingdom)
'Traditional vocal patterns (sung in the Māori language) are laced together with natural sounds, indigenous percussion (Poi) and action sounds (body slaps, foot-stamping), and complemented with funk, hip-hop and drum'n' bass grooves. A very strong debut'
‘The Guardian - Commonwealth Jubilee Festival Hyde Park (United Kingdom)
For those who thought Jubilee performances had to be safe and predictable, this was a revelation. A blend of old and new from WAI, a Māori band playing on the Australasia stage. Strong girl singers with attitude, good harmonies, and a sense of history ("This is a song about where our ancestors hang out") were backed by drums and funky electronics, and made the fusion work.’
Canberra Times (Australia)
An amazing uplifting release which prompts the listener to not only move but shake and giggle as well.Powerful sentimental compositions and potently beautiful use of language. This is a great and very important production from a culture that posses amazing rhythmic and vocal ability, get one today.
fRoots (United Kingdom)
WAI perform songs from '100%' live 'unplugged' on the Gideon Coe show (BBC) and the Andrew Ford show (ABC) and were regularly heard on the late Charlie Gillett's BBC and BBC World Service radio programs. EMI/Virgin (UK) included WAI on a compilation which was released worldwide and 'Ngā Hau E Wha' from '100%' was the opening track on the covermount CD of the Aug/Sept issue of fRoots Magazine. 'Māori culture hits the 21st century with a bang'
99db.com Magazine Trans Musicales Renne, (France)
‘WAI is exactly the kind of group one expects at the Trans. From the warm Antipode - New Zealand - the warmth that is expressed by the singers and smiles … as if it rained within them. There is a contrast between the songs of Mina Ripia and the sometimes hardcore, surprising at first, sounds emanating from the machines of Maaka Phat. One goes from experimental - to the world - while passing by tribal and hip-hop, all with a marked traditional touch … and the movements of the girls, somewhere between ancestral dances and feminine hip-hop, radiating a quiet force.’
We are proud, honoured, and humbled that the powerful sound of the WAI family resonated on the beautiful island of Borneo, Kuching, Sarawak as part of the 2019 Rainforest World Music Festival. On behalf of the WAI family thank you all for the great experience we had been apart of the festival. It was an honour for us to visit Sarawak and we hope it’s not our last. Great friendships and memories were made so thank you, thank you, thank you. Everyone made us feel like we were at home especially the fabulous and fantastic Anselm Hi'ilawe and the beautiful At Adau family.
Maaka Fiso it was an honour to travel to Borneo, Malaysia and share the international stage with you. We look forward to our next adventure. Much love and gratitude.
WAI would like to acknowledge Creative NZ for all their support so that WAI has been able to travel the world and share their music.
WAI would also like to acknowledge all past members and all special guest artists who feature on both 100% and ORA.
And last but not the least, to all our whānau and friends that we haven’t mentioned, please know we appreciate all your continued love and support.
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