Busker sings for the smiles, and a koha


There’s at least one per­son in Porirua City who doesn’t want to hear Thomas Poki’s mu­sic any­more.

‘‘My wife is al­ways telling me to shut up be­cause she’s sick of my singing.’’

That re­ac­tion is a far cry from most peo­ple who try to bribe the 44-year-old busker to per­form ‘‘just one more song’’ be­fore he packs up for the day.

The teacher-aide is a well known face - and voice - around Porirua City but he’s been recog­nised much fur­ther afield af­ter a re­cent video of his busk­ing was shared on so­cial me­dia.

The video, show­ing Poki singing in his favourite spot out­side the Ware­house, clocked up more than 100,0000 views in a mat­ter of days and the mu­si­cian couldn’t be hap­pier.

‘‘All of a sud­den I had peo­ple from all over the world con­tact­ing me to tell me my mu­sic made them happy.’’

Mak­ing peo­ple smile is what it’s all about for Poki who has been busk­ing since he was a teenager.

‘‘I played for six hours and had six songs and made $36. It was heaps.’’

Since then busk­ing has been a big part of the life, even pay­ing the fam­ily’s way on hol­i­day.

‘‘I can go and play for two hours and make enough money to pay for din­ner or the mo­tel. In fact, I prob­a­bly wouldn’t do it if I didn’t want to buy KFC all the time.’’

He doesn’t use back-up mu­sic, in­stead pro­vid­ing a beat by kick­ing the box he sits on and us­ing a shaker at­tached to his leg.

Poki was never taught to play mu­sic, in­stead he picked it up from lis­ten­ing to aun­ties and un­cles play­ing the gui­tar.

‘‘I’d lis­ten and then go to my room, close my eyes and try and play the song.’’

There’s a science to busk­ing, a smile and a nod when some­one drops a koha into the gui­tar case goes far, as does the right choice of song.

‘‘If there’s el­derly peo­ple walk­ing to­wards me I play older mu­sic. I know what they want to hear.’’

The busker is hop­ing the new found at­ten­tion will bring him what he’s al­ways dreamed of, the chance to be a full­time mu­si­cian.

‘‘I pray all the time a pro­ducer will see my video and give me that call.’’


Thomas Poki, 44, is a com­mon sight around Porirua City where he en­ter­tains with his busk­ing.

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