Talented Whitireia student wins premier music award and dreams of bringing Te Reo into mainstream pop and R&B music

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Angelique Te Rauna, second-year student at Whitireia, has made her Wainuiomata community proud by bringing home a coveted ​Silver Scroll​ award. 

The APRA Silver Scroll Awards are New Zealand's most prestigious modern music accolades. Past winners include Dave Dobbyn, Bic Runga, King Kapisi and Che Fu.

Angelique says that winning the Maioha award at the Silver Scroll Awards for her song ‘Ka Ao’, has given her confidence to pursue music as a career, and also show her family and friends that she has the ability to be successful on a national scale, and beyond.

Angelique

While Angelique would like to produce music in English, right now she feels most comfortable with her songs being in Te Reo and believes that Te Reo music will one day be part of mainstream music in New Zealand. “I would love to be a part of the journey to get it there,” she says.

“I love when people come up to me and say that they understand what I am saying in my songs even though they don’t understand the lyrics,” she says. “ I think that Te Reo has the power to do this, to portray emotion in music in a way that English doesn’t.”

Angelique developed a love of music toward the end of her school years at Wainuiomata High, but it was already a huge part of her life long before that.

Angelique describes how music had always been a big part of her family. “Whenever we are together someone gets the guitar out and there is always singing,” she says. “But no-one had taken it any further than that, until me!”

At school Angelique particularly enjoyed Māori subjects including Te Reo Māori and Māori performing arts, and that is when she started writing music in Te Reo too.

Through the Wainuiomata community music scene Angelique met and started ‘jamming’ with Whitireia graduate and guitarist of well known band, Sons of Zion, Caleb Haapu. It was Caleb who encouraged her to audition for a place at Whitireia’s Te Auaha campus, where the music department is based.

“Caleb got me an audition at Te Auaha, we had to sing a song in front of two vocal tutors, do a theory exam as well as aural and listening tests, to make sure we had a strong enough understanding of music to be able to succeed in the course,” Angelique explained. “Even though I have never learned music theory before, they must have thought I would be able to pick it up quickly because they accepted me into the course.”

The Level 4 Certificate of Music has really helped Angelique develop as a musician in a way that she doesn’t believe she would have done otherwise.

“The course has taught me so much about music. Before I was just singing what I heard, but now I understand the structure involved in a piece of music and also being able to read and write music makes a huge difference,” says Angelique. “At Te Auaha, I have also loved meeting other young student musicians and experimenting with our music together.”

“I find performing really hard because I am a naturally shy person, but because this course is so performance heavy, it is pushing me to perform in front of people more regularly so it is getting easier each time.”

It was also during a community music gathering in Wainui that Angelique met music producer and another Whitireia music graduate, Tyna Keelan, and together they wrote and produced the song ‘Ka Ao’. It is this song which has just won a Silver Scroll Award.

“When we first wrote the lyrics for this song they were actually in English. The song was about a conversation I had just had with my Mum about going out into the world after school and not really knowing what I wanted to do,” explained Angelique. “But we thought it would work really well in Te Reo, so my uncle Matauranga Te Rauna translated it for me in the way he knew I would have meant it. Te Reo is a tricky language, because it is not very literal, it is often symbolic so when he was translating, it was really important that he understood my ‘voice’.”

Earlier this year, Tyna Keelan put ‘Ka Ao’ forward to be considered for the prestigious Maioha award at the APRA Silver Scroll Awards - and Angelique, Tyna and Matauranga won.
The Maihoa award ​recognises the art of contemporary Māori songwriting and celebrates artists which use Te Reo to tell their stories.