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.