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Special Matariki concert

Erica Sinclair Photography. Rob Ruha

Tairawhiti’s best music talent will take centre stage at a one-night only Matariki concert at Auckland’s town hall.

The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (APO) will celebrate Matariki with one of the brightest stars of New Zealand music on Thursday June 23.

Rob Ruha (Te Whanau-a-Apanui, Ngati Porou, Tainui, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Te Arawa, Nga Puhi, Rongowhakaata, Nga Ariki) will lead a night of uplifting music — Haka Soul — with East Coast rangatahi choir Ka Hao and the ataahua tones of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

The powerhouse of progressive Maori music and self-described “artivist”, Ruha’s dynamic celebration of Te Po, the night, and Te Ao, daylight, will include epic waiata such as “I Te Po”, and soulful grooves including “Ka Manu” and “Kalega”.

Ka Hao is a New Zealand youth choir from Te Tairawhiti which originally came together, led by Ruha and his wife Cilla, for the love of waiata. Their first performances were at the 2019 Te Tairawhiti Arts Festival and since then they have won two Aotearoa Music Awards, Best Worship Album and the Mana Reo Award, as a part of the supergroup Mohau.

Ka Hao are perhaps best known for their viral TikTok superhit, 35, written and directed by Ruha.

Named in reference to State Highway 35 through the East Cape, 35 is “that New Zealand song” which recently became TikTok famous — 12 million views worldwide and growing — and nabbed a number 1

spot on the Top 40 NZ songs chart.

“In this extra-special, one-night-only Matariki concert presented by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra with support from NZ Herald Kahu and Auckland Live, and with orchestral adaptation by Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper, Ruha, Ka Hao and the APO will harness the mauri and inspire unity in us all,” a spkeswoman for APO said.

“It will be a beautiful moment to welcome in te tau hou Maori and dance the night away ahead of the country’s first official Matariki public holiday.”