He might be in trouble with the police but Tiki Taane - now living in the Bay - is very much a gentle, family man.

"It's 4pm and Tiki Taane feels like a beer. So we're heading down to Bravo, where he can have a Stella Artois. A young guy with a baby girl called Meghan on his hip stops Taane and asks the tattooed star for an autograph shyly on the back of a business card.

Taane is more than accommodating and can't help cooing at a wide-eyed Meghan, who looks at Taane from under her pink beanie.

We move on and, behind me, I hear a woman say: "That was Tiki Taane."

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Taane, of course, is hard to miss.

Tattooed since 14 - right down to the palms of his hands - Taane can't go anywhere these days without being recognised. But it might come as a surprise to many that he lives in Papamoa.

The 34-year-old moved from Palmerston North to the Bay in January with his partner of five years, Laurie-Rose Dahlkamp, and their 2-year-old son Charlie, or Chico as they affectionately call him. They love the area and Dahlkamp's parents live there, too.

Here to stay

"My first gig here was in 1996 when I was with Salmonella Dub," Taane recalls.

"So since then I've made some amazing friends ... that's why I come back and that's why I'm living here now."

So he's here to stay?

"For sure," says Taane.

On the outside, Taane doesn't look like an angel. He's wearing chunky rings on almost all his fingers, a silver guitar around his neck, and a side-ways cap and cuffs around his wrists. And an over-sized shirt that's causing a stir. Then there's the tattoos.

But he assures me he's a softie and that his recent brush with the law shouldn't be seen as a reflection of his character.

Support for music brother

The singer is due in Tauranga District Court next month charged with acting in a disorderly manner likely to incite violence, after singing a what some say is a derogatory song about the police when officers visited Tauranga club Illuminati earlier this month.

Dahlkamp was with him at the time and says: "He's peaceful, definitely not violent in any way even if I did the biggest thing to piss him off. There was no need to arrest him. It was silly, man. I've never seen him be violent in my life."

Other big names in Kiwi music have come out in support of Taane, with singer Hollie Smith saying her "music brother" doesn't have a "malicious bone in his body".

"He can be cheeky but there's no way there would have been any aggression there," she says to me over the phone.

"People who judge are always going to be the people who judge. The NWA song is a full-on political activist song from black America and they had reason to sing an anthem about it and there's no reason why it shouldn't be expressed. Songs like that hold huge political meaning."

Friend and Shihad lead singer Jon Toogood was surprised at what he deemed an "over-reaction".

"I didn't think playing a song is illegal.

"It's a little bit cheeky without a doubt but it's not illegal.

"He wouldn't have wanted to cause any grief or get people to rise up and do something crazy. He's a bloody nice guy."

Pushing the envelope

Apart from stealing some Nike pumps in the third form at Shirley Boys' High, and getting a few speeding tickets, Taane says he's a good citizen.

He's civilised then? "No, I wouldn't say civilised," he says, having a sip of beer."I mean, that sounds boring to me.

"I'd say I know right from wrong. I don't go looking for trouble on purpose.

"I push the envelope with my art and music because that's my job. That's what I'm here to do. To make people think, make people question, make people talk about certain topics I can put into my music and art."

Of his arrest, Taane says: "I hope this is resolved positively for all parties involved. There's more important things to worry about. The matter is before the courts anyway, so I've just got to be patient and do my thing."

His fans have given Taane huge support since the arrest, but he is not above criticism. "I've been doing this [for] 20 years and I've been through the ups and the downs and criticism doesn't rock me at all. Every day, there'll be a couple of YouTube comments by people hating my music, every day. Even before this happened, so it's just the way it is.

"When you put your music and art and your soul on the line, people are always going to judge it."

I get the feeling Taane is the kind of guy who you could almost say anything to and it would be like water off a duck's back.

Kumbaya moment

Most of his sentences are finished with a huge grin.

How many tattoos has he got?

"One. Big one," he says, grinning.

"I've been tattooed all round the world ... it's like collecting stamps."

Growing up in Christchurch, Taane, whose mother Lyn Jarman is of English and Scottish descent, picked up his musical talent from his Maori-Spanish father Uekaha Taane Tinorau, who plays the guitar.

"We used to turn the TV off and sit around and play the guitar and sing songs and stuff. So it was a very Kumbaya moment," he laughs.

Taane, of Ngati Maniapoto descent, has two older sisters Nina-Kaye and Maurz. He had a brother too, Anaru, but he died at 7 from cerebral palsy.

His parents, who divorced when Taane was 8, still live in Christchurch. His mother has struggled with the earthquakes but his dad loves it.

"He's very spiritual and the Maori god of volcanoes is called Ruamoko. He's into this whole feeling the earth and power of the earth."

We're all friends

Whanau is important to the the singer, who has brought Dahlkamp and Charlie to the interview.

"November 12, 2006, is when I first met her," Taane reports of his first meeting with 26-year-old Dahlkamp.

Is it a romantic story?

"Very romantic. We met in a bar, in Palmerston North," he laughs.

So it was love at first sight?

"Yeah, I definitely had the word love floating around in my head when I met her."

"You told me I was the most beautiful girl you'd ever seen in your life. That's what you told me," Dahlkamp says sweetly.

Taane has written a few songs about Dahlkamp but his most famous track, Always On My Mind was written for his former partner.

"It's about her now," he says, looking at his blonde-haired "babe".

"It's about his ex but she's lovely so that's all cool. We're all friends," Dahlkamp adds.

Taane still has a connection with Palmerston North where he still owns the Grand pub.

He also has a family-shared home in the bush at Woodhill, west of Auckland - that's where his studio and 76 pets are located. Yes, 76.

"Three horses, one Shetland pony with a missing eye."

He sees my raised eyebrows.

"It came like that," he says with his hands up.

He continues: "About 30 ducks, about 20 chickens, about 10 roosters and about 10 cats. Maui, Muffy, Fitty after [rap star] 50 Cent. You get the idea," he says.

Woodhill is also the place he's been building a Doorslammer muscle car for the past eight years - a matt-black 1963 Mark 3 Zephyr.

The world's fastest Maori documentary

"I've suped it up because I want to be able to break the record for being the fastest Mark 3 Zephyr in the world and also, you know that movie The World's Fastest Indian?"

Yeah.

"I've been filming it'cause I want to do the world's fastest Maori documentary."

Interesting. I want to know some other stuff fans might not know about him. What sort of music does Tiki Taane listen to?

"Everything. I like anything that's moving. Even though a lot of people might think I write drum and bass, dub-step, quite loud, progressive, bass heavy music, nothing beats sitting there listening to a full 40-piece orchestra, you know what I mean?"

I nod in surprise.

"Nothing beats that," he says. "I still think that's some of the most powerful music that there is because it's fully acoustic. It's 40 people making this one solid mass of sound. It's so moving and so dynamic. So nothing beats that, not even Metallica."

Music is Taane's life, wholly and completely.

He left school at 14 and was on stage at 15.

"I started my band around that time and I thought 'This is it. I just want to rock out. I want to play music and see the world'. I joined Salmonella Dub at 19 and I'm 34 now."

Taane, real name Nathan Glen Taane Tinorau, got the name Tiki when he was 5. He has a scar on his forehead shaped like a tick and his schoolmates would chime "Tick, tock ... Tiki."

Did he ever think he would be as famous as he is now?

"Not at all, no. But I've always been different that's for sure."

In what way?

"I've never really followed anything. I left school at 14, started my band and was on stage at 15 and haven't looked back since."

Hanging out at the beach

He is currently putting the final touches on friend Toogood's solo project, The Adults, and releasing an album of never before heard music by OMC.

In May, he starts production on band Six60's first album and will tour with Shapeshifter around the UK.

On the way back, he'll tour Australia for the release of his album In the World of Light, which reached number one on the New Zealand charts.

But first, he's relishing some time at home.

"My time here in Papamoa is just to relax. I'm so full on. It's just pretty much me, my partner and son hanging out at the beach before I need to catch some plane somewhere to some country to do a gig. We're going to the Mount hot pools tonight for [my] first time.

"I want to climb the Mount with my son. Build a house."

"Make a baby," Dahlkamp chips in. "Next year."

"I love it here, I love this place," Taane says. "It definitely feels like home here. I just love coming here and doing homely stuff because my life is so intense, constantly."

Tiki Taane Loves

- When my son says: "I love you Daddy."

- When my partner says: "I love you baby."

- Performing to crowds that are up for it, positive and want to have a good time.

Tiki Taane Loathes

- Mushrooms. I'm not into mushrooms.

- Love runny poached eggs so when I overdo them, it really annoys me.

- Wet socks.