Te Vaka is a group of musicians and dancers from the South Pacific brought together under the inspired leadership of Opetaia Foa’i.
Te Vaka has toured the world extensively over the last 20 years, and have represented New Zealand and the South Pacific at many important world events with performances for the America’s cup events in Auckland, the Commonwealth games in Melbourne, the Rugby World Cup in Paris and the Olympic Games in Beijing.
Opetaia Foa’i is the songwriter/ lead vocalist of the group. The inspiration for his music comes from his multi-cultural upbringing – half Tokelauan, half Tuvaluan, born in Samoa and bought up in a Tokelauan community in New Zealand. Opetaia’s musical background spans both the traditional and the diverse influences of contemporary metropolitan culture. Described as “one of New Zealand’s finest songwriters” and “ a true son of the Pacific”, he won the Senior Pacific Artist award in 2005 for his contribution to the Pacific Arts.
Te Vaka has performed in 40 countries and released eight internationally acclaimed albums and 2 DVDs to date. The first released in 1997 through ARC Music, a UK/European based record company, gained immediate worldwide success and recognition for the group and was distributed to over 80 countries. The second album, released in 1999 through Warm Earth Records created an even bigger impact going to number one on world music charts and on mainstream radio in the South Pacific. The third album, released in May 2002, gained a nomination in “Best Roots” category in the New Zealand music awards and nominations for BBC 3 World music awards in the UK. The 4th album Tutuki , entered the European World Music Charts at no. 4 & the USA Global Rhythm top 10 chart at No. 3. It won a Tui for “Best Pacific Music Album” in the New Zealand music awards as well as Songwriting Awards in both the USA and Australia. The fifth Te Vaka album Olatia, released in July 2007 entered the European World Music Chart at No. 4 and won a “Tui” for “Best Pacific Album” in the 2008 Pacific Music Awards. Sixth album “Haoloto” released in 2009, won 2 awards -“Best Pacific Group 2010” and Best Pacific language song”. A track from the 7th Album “Havili” released in 2011 won second place in the USA songwriting competition in 2012. The band completed two very successful tours of North America in 2010 and 2011.
Opetaia Foai was contracted to Walt Disney Pictures at the end of 2013 to write songs and music for the upcoming Disney musical feature film ”Moana”. The fact was announced to the world on the 14th of August 2015 at Disney’s D23 Expo where the band performed a track that Opetaia has written for the movie, receiving a standing ovation from the 8,000 Disney fans at the Anaheim Convention Centre. The 8th album “Amataga”, released in September 2015 just before embarking on a third US tour, was named in the “Best Albums” of 2015 European World Music Chart and the Transglobal Chart and won “Best Pacific Album” and “Best Pacific song” in the 2016 Pacific and NZ music awards. With the “Moana” release date set for the 23rd of November 2016 in the US and boxing day in the South Pacific, Opetaia and Te Vaka have some very exciting times ahead.