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Warning out as talented prison songstress eludes police

By Lynley Bilby

A woman who recorded music for a ground-breaking television documentary series on prisons is now on the run from police.

Police warn people not to approach the distinctly-tattooed Maera Elizabeth Todd, who is facing a warrant for arrest after she failed to appear in the Hastings District Court last month. Todd, 33, is charged with shoplifting, fraud, trespass and breaching parole conditions.

The Hastings woman - who uses up to seven different aliases and is still believed to be in the region - recently appeared in Maori Television's Songs From The Inside. Filmed last year, the celebrated 13-episode production took top artists, including Anika Moa and Warren Maxwell, into Arohata and Rimutaka prisons to teach songwriting and mentor a select group of inmates.

An album, Songs From the Inside, was released at the end of the series in June. It debuted at second place on the local iTunes album charts.

Its second track, Fatherland, is written and performed by fugitive Todd. Critics describe the music as "folky, with haunting vocal layering and speaking of an attachment between whanau and land".

Documentary director Julian Arahanga, who played Nig Heke in the 1994 New Zealand film Once Were Warriors, said he was disappointed Todd was not making the most of her musical break. And he appealed for the talented songstress to give herself up.

"I hope she comes forward to face up to whatever charges the police have laid."

Todd showed some "awesome" talent and those involved in the series were very proud of her achievements, he said.

However, the show was not a vehicle for criminal reform and she needed to take reponsibility for her actions.

He hoped Todd could show some remorse and move back into a more positive life.

- Herald on Sunday

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