A word with...:

Maaka Po­hatu is a mem­ber of show­band the Modern M ori Quar­tet – along with James Tito, Matariki Whata­rau and Fran­cis Kora. The four­some are cur­rently ap­pear­ing on M ori TV’s Thurs­day night show My Party Song where they play mu­sic along­side in­vited lo­cal m

The TV Guide - - CONTENTS -

Maaka Po­hatu and his mu­si­cal past.

Who are some of the guest mu­si­cians on My Party Song this sea­son?

Louis Baker, Bella Kalolo, The Maori Sidesteps, Betty-Anne Monga from Ardi­jah and Te Awanui Reeder from Ne­sian Mys­tic. There is all this amaz­ing (mu­sic) roy­alty. It just felt re­ally spe­cial, warm and invit­ing. We got to jam with them on set.

Where did your love of mu­sic come from?

Both my par­ents are singers and song­writ­ers and I grew up in that kind of at­mos­phere. Mum says that when she was car­ry­ing me, Dad used to sing to her stom­ach. When I was a baby and they’d have lit­tle get-to­geth­ers and sing-a-longs, I’d cry in the next room un­less they put my cot in the mid­dle of the party.

When did you re­alise you had a knack or tal­ent for mu­sic?

I think I just nat­u­rally grav­i­tated to­wards it be­cause it was around me all the time. (I was) like a lit­tle sponge. I never learnt for­mally. But there were al­ways gui­tars and stuff around. I watched my fa­ther and then I’d go to my cousins and go, ‘What’s that key? Where do I put my fin­gers (on the gui­tar)? And they’d go, ‘There, there, there, there, there’. I’d slowly pick up more and more chords. I started to re­ally pick up the ba­sics when I was about 14.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Dunedin. My par­ents were lec­tur­ers at Otago Univer­sity. Me and my brother grew up on the cam­pus. I went to school down there, went flat­ting down

there. I tried to go to univer­sity and take mu­sic as a pa­per with­out hav­ing stud­ied it at high school at all. Think­ing that I’d pick it up and ... I was way out of my depth.

When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be Michael Knight (David Has­sel­hoff) from Knight Rider. I wanted to be like him and MacGyver (Richard Dean An­der­son) put to­gether. I was like, se­ri­ously, that will be so cool. You could have a car that talks to you and then you could solve puz­zles and then put to­gether Crunchie wrap­pers and a rubber band and you’ve made a home-made com­puter. But I think I re­ally wanted to be an ac­tor.

If you could have any­one’s job in tele­vi­sion, whose would you pick?

I re­ally loved it when John Camp­bell was on and I’d love to be him. Just that laid­back ‘Kia ora, New Zealand’. But other than that, in a real sense, prob­a­bly the guy who does the voiceovers TV. You don’t have to ap­pear on TV or look good. Just sound good. I’d turn up and go, ‘This week on Short­land Street, Chris Warner ...’ I would love to do that. That’s my dream job.

If you could be a con­tes­tant on any re­al­ity show, which one would it be and why?

Prob­a­bly some­thing like Wipe­out where I wouldn’t have to take myself too se­ri­ously. I could go across that ob­sta­cle course and get smashed. I’d re­ally en­joy get­ting knocked over in the wa­ter.

What is the best piece of ad­vice you’ve re­ceived?

Stop beat­ing your­self up be­cause you would never say such mean stuff to some­one you cared about as you do to your­self. My dad said, ‘You’ve got to learn to love your­self, boy. But in a real way though, not a con­ceited nar­cis­sis­tic way. You’ve got to learn to re­ally like your­self.’ That was it. Just be happy with your­self. Ac­cept your­self.

And the worst ad­vice?

One of my well-mean­ing friends was like, ‘Why can’t you just work in a li­brary or in a florist’s.’ I was like, ‘Do you know me?’ They said, ‘We’re so con­cerned for you, Maaka be­cause your lifestyle seems to leave you quite tired and I’m wor­ried about your health.’

Do you have any hid­den tal­ents?

I wouldn’t say it’s hid­den but a lot of peo­ple who know me, know that I have this re­ally freak abil­ity to re­tain film di­a­logue or lyrics from songs and I don’t even un­der­stand how it works. A lot of the time I’ll for­get a per­son’s name or phone num­bers or my bank ac­counts but those other things stay with me and come out at the most ran­dom times.

How would your friends de­scribe you in three words?

Loyal, ran­dom and talk­a­tive.

The Modern M ori Quar­tet are Fran­cis Kora, Maaka Po­hatu, Matariki Whata­rau and James Tito.

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