Matthew Saunoa

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Matthew Saunoa
Born 1986 (age 30–31)
Papatoetoe, New Zealand
Genres Pop
Years active 2006–07
Labels Shock Records

Matthew Saunoa (born 1986) is a New Zealand pop singer who rose to musical fame as the winner of the third season of New Zealand Idol in 2006. After winning the third season, his winner's single, "Hold Out" topped the New Zealand Singles Chart, however it did not secure Saunoa an album contract with Sony Music. Saunoa did not release any further music independently, and in result experienced disappointment and periods of depression. Saunoa later appeared on Pop's Ultimate Star, and has since moved to the Gold Coast, Australia with his family, where he joined a band.

Early life[edit]

Saunoa was born in Papatoetoe, Auckland. His mother is English and his father is Samoan. He attended De La Salle College, where he was a lead singer at school events.[1] Before appearing on Idol, he worked as a builder in Levin.[2] Saunoa relocated to the Gold Coast.[3]

New Zealand Idol[edit]

Saunoa unsuccessfully auditioned for the initial season of New Zealand Idol in 2004. After this birth of his first son, Harlyn, Saunoa retried and was accepted onto the show.[4]

Round Song choice Original artist
Top 18 "To Love Somebody" The Bee Gees
Top 10 "Living for the City" Stevie Wonder
Top 9 "I Don't Want to Be" Gavin DeGraw
Top 8 "Amazed" Lonestar
Top 7 "Something About the Way You Look Tonight" Elton John
Top 6 "Try a Little Tenderness" Otis Redding
Top 5 "Crazy" Gnarls Barkley
Top 4 "Sitting Inside My Head" Supergroove
"Welcome Home" Dave Dobbyn
Top 3 "Let's Get It On Al Green
"Forever Now" Cold Chisel
Top 2 "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?" The Bee Gees
"This Love" Maroon 5
"Every Breath You Take" The Police
"Crazy" Gnarls Barkley
"I Don't Want to Miss a Thing Aerosmith
"Living for the City" Stevie Wonder
"When I Get You Alone" Robin Thicke
"Hold Out" (winner's single) Matt Saunoa

On 17 October 2006, betting agency Centrebet announced their final-wee kprediction that Saunoa would win the competition, with his odds at $1.66 and runner up Indira Moala's at $2.10.[5] However, before the finale began, the odds moved to put Moala as the favourite to win.[6] Along with the 'New Zealand Idol' title, he won NZ$50,000 cash, a Daihatsu Terios, a holiday in Rarotonga and recording contract.[7][8] Saunoa shared some of the prize money with Moala, and sold the Tarios to raise money for a deposit on a house purchase to provide security for his family.[8]

After NZ Idol[edit]

Saunoa performed his winner's single, "Hold Out", on the finale of New Zealand Idol on 29 October 2006. Written by James Reid of The Feelers,[4] it was released for purchase by Shock Records on 31 October 2006,[7] with a download available on 6 November.[9] The song debuted on the New Zealand Singles Chart at number one the day of its digital release, and remained on the chart for twenty-three weeks.[10] "Hold Out" was also used as TV One's theme tune in the summer of 2006–07.[11] However, due to the low sales of the song, Saunoa did not secure a contract to record a studio album.[4]

Saunoa contested the reality television show Pop's Ultimate Star, and came third, with TrueBliss singer Joe Cotton and New Zealand Idol season two runner-up Nik Carlson receiving first and second places, respectively.[12]

As "Hold Out" was Saunoa's only solo musical release, Saunoa felt guilty for not making more of his New Zealand Idol title, and for letting his supporters down.[11] In an interview with the Manawatu Standard in 2010, Saunoa stated, "I got to release a single, and that was it. I just felt I was left to rot. After climbing what seemed an impossible mountain it felt like I had fallen and landed flat on my face."[11] However, in 2009, Saunoa formed a band with Lionel Nelson, formerly of Herbs, and Melaanie Viether. The group, named Brown Suga, began performing at the Gold Coast, in Australia.[11] Of the collaboration, Saunoa said, "We work really well together and I get to do a lot of solo stuff...Being with Kiwi people and other Polynesian people, I don't know, something really clicks."[11] He moved to Mudgeeraba with his partner, Lisa-Jane McKenzie, and children, Harlyn and Ashton.[11]


  1. ^ "Pops Ultimate Star". Television New Zealand. Retrieved 8 February 2011. 
  2. ^ Ihaka, James (30 October 2006). "Yesterday's reject voted today's Idol". The New Zealand Herald. APN News & Media. Retrieved 8 February 2011. 
  3. ^ "It's a life on the road for NZ Idol star". Stuff. Fairfax New Zealand. 26 January 2009. Archived from the original on 8 February 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c Macgregor, Jody. "Matt Saunoa – Biography". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on 11 February 2011. Retrieved 11 February 2011. 
  5. ^ "NZ Idol Title Betting: Matt Odds on to Beat Indira" (Press release). Centrebet. 17 October 2006. Retrieved 11 February 2011. 
  6. ^ "Matt makes his mark as NZ's idol". The Dominion Post. Fairfax New Zealand. 30 October 2006. p. 2. 
  7. ^ a b Blundell, Key (31 October 2006). "Wannabe idol returns a somebody". The Dominion Post. Fairfax New Zealand. p. 5. 
  8. ^ a b Davies, Ellen (5 November 2006). "Idol Matt's a home boy". Sunday News. Fairfax New Zealand. 
  9. ^ "Hold Out (Single)". Digirama. Retrieved 11 February 2011. 
  10. ^ "Matt Saunoa – Hold Out". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 February 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f Rasmussen, Warwick (6 February 2010). "Dark time over, now it's sweet". Manawatu Standard. Fairfax New Zealand. p. 21. 
  12. ^ "Pops Ultimate Star – The grand final". Television New Zealand. Archived from the original on 11 February 2011. Retrieved 11 February 2011.