Moana (singer)

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Birth nameMoana Maniapoto
Also known asMoana Maniapoto-Jackson
Born (1961-06-22) 22 June 1961 (age 59)
Invercargill, New Zealand
OriginNew Zealand
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, film-maker
LabelsBlack Pearl / Sony BMG / Ode / Rhythmethod
Associated actsMoana and the Moahunters

Moana Maree Maniapoto MNZM (born 22 June 1961) is a New Zealand singer, songwriter and documentary maker.[1] Widely considered as one of New Zealand's most successful indigenous acts,[2] her music is described as a fusion of traditional Māori haka, chants and taonga puoro, with contemporary soul, reggae and classical styles.[3] In 2016, Moana was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame.


Maniapoto was born in Invercargill, New Zealand,[3] and attended St Joseph's Māori Girls' College in Napier.[4] She is said to have paid her way through law school by singing covers in the highly competitive Auckland club circuit.[3] Maniapoto was raised Roman Catholic, with her cousin Max Mariu being the first Māori bishop. However during her college years Maniapoto began to question her Catholic beliefs, and abandoned them entirely after the birth of her children. She now considers herself a follower of traditional Māori spirituality.[5]

In 1987, Moana released "Kua Makona", as part of an effort to promote moderation to young Maori. The song was produced by Maui Dalvanius Prime and featured in the RIANZ Top 50 singles chart.

Moana was briefly married to New Zealand politician and radio personality Willie Jackson, during which time she was known as Moana Maniapoto-Jackson; they divorced in 2001.

In 2002, Moana formed the band Moana and the Tribe which consisted of a large group of musicians and performers with a passion for Maori culture. Since their formation, the band has performed hundreds of international concerts, cementing their reputation as one of the most successful indigenous bands to emerge from New Zealand.[6] Prior to 2002, Moana's former band, Moana & the Moahunters released two albums, Tahi and Rua.[7] Their song Black Pearl reached no. 2 on the national charts in 1991, earning Moana her first gold.[3]

Moana won the grand prize at the 2003 International Songwriting Competition with her song "Moko".[8]

Moana has been described as ‘music of great depth and beauty’ (New Zealand Herald, 2003).[9]

In the 2004 Queen's Birthday Honours, Moana was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to Māori and music.[10] She is also a Life Time Recipient of the Toi Iho Māori Made Mark and received the 2005 Te Tohu Mahi Hou a Te Waka Toi Award from Te Waka Toi (Creative N.Z.), in recognition of her outstanding leadership and contribution to the development of new directions in Māori art. Moana received a Music Industry Award at the Maori Waiata 2008 Awards, also for her positive contribution to Māori Music.[3]

Moana released her fourth album Wha in May 2008. She toured in 2008 and 2009 Germany, Australia, Netherlands, Turkey, New Zealand and performed at the opening of the Biennale in Venice / Italy in June 2009.[citation needed] Moana & the Tribe launched songs from their 5th album Rima in 2014 at Womad NZ, in a performance described in the NZ Herald as "the most powerful, enjoyable and important act on the mainstage at this years Womad in Taranaki."

In 2014, Moana and her band formed the Boomerang Collaboration with Scottish band Breabach, Shellie Morris, Casey Donovan and Djakapurra, playing concerts at Womad NZ, Sydney Opera House and HebCelt (Scotland). Rima was a finalist at the 2015 Vodafone NZ Music Awards and the song "Upokohue" was a finalist in the APRA Maioha Award. It won 2nd place in the World category at the International Songwriting Contest. Moana is one half of an award-winning film-making team led by her partner and band member Toby Mills. Their documentary work includes Guarding the Family Silver, which screened in the National Geographic All Roads Film Festival and The Russians are Coming, which played at the Sydney Opera House during the Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival in 2012.[6]

She is also a regular writer for the Maori and Pacific online weekly newspaper e-tangata.

Moana is the presenter of the weekly current affairs television program Te Ao with Moana, which broadcasts at 8 pm every Monday on Māori Television and is currently in its second series.[11]




  1. ^ Kara, Scott (31 May 2008). "Just wha enough". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  2. ^ "Moana Maniapoto | NZ Artist Directory". NZ Music Commission. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e "The Arts Foundation : Moana Maniapoto – Biography". The Arts Foundation. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  4. ^ Bridgeman, Shelley (4 November 2007). "Singing the same song". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  5. ^ "Moana Maniapoto: Losing my religion". 22 April 2018. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Moana Maniapoto – Profile". Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  7. ^ "Moana and the Tribe – New Zealand Musicians & Bands". Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  8. ^ "ISC IS PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THE 2003 WINNERS". International Songwriting Competition. Archived from the original on 13 December 2005. Retrieved 17 December 2003.
  9. ^ Reid, Graham (12 September 2003). "Moana: Toru". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  10. ^ "Queen's Birthday honours list 2004". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 7 June 2004. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  11. ^ "Te Ao with Moana". Retrieved 21 March 2020.

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