We had a chat with Theia to discuss her recently released debut album for her new project Te Kaahu - Te Kaahu O Rangi. The album is recorded entirely in te reo Māori so we thought it was a perfect start to our Album Feature Series here at Holiday Records, coming at the back of last week's Māori Language Week / Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori.

The album has also been recognised with finalist nominations for the Waiata Māori Music Awards (Best Te Reo Māori Album), the APRA Maioha Award (for her single ‘E Hine Ē’) and this year's inaugural Rolling Stone Awards (Best New Artist).

We had the absolute pleasure of pressing this album right here in Aotearoa at Holiday Records with beautiful brown vinyl.

Buy your own copy of Te Kaahu - Te Kaahu O Rangi here.

Follow her on Instagram here.Tell us a bit about yourself - Where are you from? Who are your favourite artists?

kia ora taatou! i’m Theia, i whakapapa to Waikato-Tainui, Ngaati Tiipaa. i make alt-pop experimental music and also have a reo Māori project called TE KAAHU. some of my fave artists are Britney, Carole King, Riri, Bjork, Sinead O’Connor, Roy Orbison & Mariah Carey.

Tell us a bit about the album - What were some of the inspirations behind its creation and the album itself?

Te Kaahu O Rangi honours the craft of Māori songwriting and storytelling. this record is in honour of my tūpuna wāhine and is composed entirely in reo Māori and my tribal mita (dialect) of Waikato. throughout each waiata i’ve woven together pepeha (tribal sayings), whakataukī (proverbs) and kupu whakarite (metaphors) which combined with 50s and 60s style prod brings a nostalgic, comforting feeling and a sense of timelessness. the reason for this project was to provide a rauemi (resource) for my iwi with mātauranga (knowledge) from our rohe (tribal area) which i have learned from my nannies. and to present it in our language. Te Kaahu O Rangi is waiata that i’m sure my kui would have danced and cried to.

Tell us about the album artwork - What was the inspiration? Who is the artist?

The artist is Jackson Hill and the album art is a nod to the Māori portraiture of the 1800s where our people were often romanticized as ‘the noble savage’. i find it extremely painful to see the hurt & loss in my tūpuna’s faces as they sat for portraits in the midst of colonization, oppression, war & land confiscation. this album artwork is therefore a way of healing some of that intergenerational trauma around the stripping of mana. this portrait is the manifestation of the TE KAAHU kaupapa : to heal, restore & empower my people.

Tell us why you chose to press it to vinyl? 

i wanted to press this record to vinyl as it’s inspired by my tūpuna wāhine (female ancestors) and in particular my late kui (grandmother), Rangirara. her love of waiata was so great and it seemed only fitting to have this album available to listen in the same way she listened to music when she was growing up. also because the art is in itself a taonga, so adding it to the nostalgic quality of vinyl felt like the perfect keepsake, he taonga tuku iho (a treasure to be passed down).

Upcoming shows

The Yard, Raglan, Saturday October 8. Tickets here.
TE KAAHU will be joined at the Raglan show by Komako-Aroha. 

Māoriland Hub, Ōtaki, Saturday November 12. Tickets here.
TE KAAHU will be joined at the Ōtaki show by Mo Etc.