Music lovers in Horowhenua can experience a fresh take on showband entertainment when the Modern Māori Quartet hit town as part of this year's Matariki celebrations.
The suave award-winning Quartet – Maaka Pohatu, Matariki Whatarau, Francis Kora and Matu Ngaropo – will perform live at Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō tonight.
Francis Kora was interviewed by NZ Herald earlier this year, where he said the band wanted to create authentic music true to their roots.
He said a lot of today's music had lost "truth" and that while the sound was good, the stories were less so.
"There's only so many times you can hear someone talk about shaking their butt, or the flash car that they're driving. So we really wanted to tell something that was truthful to us and the heartland of New Zealand," he said.
"Above all, we just wanted to create something that was true."
"All the stories are based on true events and there's a lot of vulnerability that we captured, which I think will really connect. It's a very, very unique New Zealand sound, an older sound, but at the same time I truly believe its what's needed today."
Which is why they've returned to the humble Māori garage party with the recent release of That's Us, an album about love "in every sense of the word".
The garage door is open, the sun's streaming in, everyone's sitting around the table playing cards, talking, laughing and having fun when out of nowhere, someone's got a guitar and everyone's singing along as one.
This is the Māori garage party. And it's what the Modern Māori Quartet have built their entire album around.
"With us, if there's a funeral or a birthday or a wedding, at some stage of the evening, a guitar will come out and everyone will join in. It's about people and bringing people together."
That's Us was full of songs about love, heartbreak, family and Māori culture, even incorporating four songs in te reo Māori, including the already released single Māreikura, which "pays respect and homage to our women".
"It's just very uplifting stuff. We wanted people to see the lighthearted and loving side of Māori, of us, who we are," says Kora.
Meanwhile, the nationwide tour played songs from the new album with support from Annie Crummer and Kora promises "the garage party will be in full swing.
"I think the audience will automatically connect with it. It's just that familiarity and the joy of feeling like you're involved with a show. It's a hell of a lot of fun."
Horowhenua District Council's Cultural and Community Centre Manager Hendrix Warren said it would be a performance full of harmonies and humour for the whole family to enjoy.
"It'll be a live show like no other, full of off-beat comedy, storytelling, and song and dance," he said.
Warren said it was a climax to what had been a week-long celebration of Matariki at Te Takere.
"Their performance is one of the highlights of this year's Matariki programme, and it's an opportunity not to be missed if you enjoy good music and laughter that will warm your heart," he said.
They offer a contemporary twist on the Māori showband tradition in New Zealand, which includes iconic Kiwi musicians such as The Howard Morrison Quartet, with a blend of Māori waiata, showband hits and pop music.
They had toured New Zealand and abroad, including playing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Salisbury International Arts Festival in the United Kingdom, Festival of Voices in Hobart, Shanghai International Arts Festival and in over 20 cities across China, Klangkosmos NRW in Germany, TEDxAuckland, New Zealand Festival in Wellington, and the Māorilands Film Festival in Ōtaki.
Doors open at 6:30pm and the evening's entertainment begins at 7:30pm, with a guest performance by award-winning Māori R&B musician Amba Holly before the Modern Māori Quartet take the stage.
Tickets are available at Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō in Levin, Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom in Foxton, or the Shannon Library.
Tickets can also be purchased online through Eventbrite. For more information, see www.tetakere.org.nz/Events-Activities and www.teawahou.com/Whats-On