Troy Kingi co-produced the soundtrack for The Panthers, the TV dramatisation of the dawn raids era.
The room where I write my songs has no windows, but I'm up here at The Red Room in Pūhoi where I've done a couple of my albums. There's a window looking straight out to native bush. It's a nice little quiet spot.
I'm one day into recording my next album. Because I work really fast in the studio while they're mixing or editing, I'll be out here having a breath, relaxing and listening to what we've just tracked. That's normally the vibe.
When I started recording, it was mainly for me as a creative. I didn't know my music would resonate with anyone. I had a lot of pent-up creative energy that needed to be released because I started relatively late. I'd spent a good deal of my life raising my children. I had them early when I was 19. I spent my 20s raising my kids and got to a point where they were old enough that I was able to venture off and start doing other stuff. You're never too old, man!
I was a scuba-diving instructor in my early 20s for about six years in the Bay of Islands. I'd like to get back to that when I can find some time. Getting back to diving and being in the ocean and not restricted by anything. That's like my church. It's a good place to sit with your thoughts. It's real silent, no noise, no one can talk.
To write music for such a big project like The Panthers was cool. To be part of that was a complete honour. You got to challenge yourself to feel alive, man. Otherwise, you're just existing.
I'd learned a little about the Polynesian Panthers when I was at a Māori boarding school. It wasn't surprising, the stories of what happened to Polynesians. That stuff's been happening to us for a long time as Māori as well. But to see it on a script and then to finally see it visually is going to be a whole other thing. People are going to be moved by this s**t.
I'd heard about dawn raids all my life but didn't really look into the logistical thing of what a dawn raid was. It would have been so scary. And putting my own family in that situation, how would that have been? My kids trying to hide and screaming 'cos the bloody goon squad is trying to smash the door down. I couldn't even imagine.
I was born in Rotorua and then moved down to the East Coast. We're a pretty secluded area, kind of our own little country within ourselves so I wasn't immediately affected by the Panthers or knew anyone personally affected by it. But there are hundreds and thousands of more stories exactly like that.
I've been talking about it for a long time that New Zealanders as a whole need to learn their history. Not a lot of it is going to be good. But it's what happened and it's what makes us who we are. If people were to look and see what happened, it might give them a better understanding of why we are how we are or where we are right now.
I don't think tangata whenua's angry, it's more frustrated. We're not trying to get all our land back. We're not trying to do all this whatever. We just need acknowledgement of our history in order for us to move forward together. Until there's acknowledgement nothing's going to change.
I feel like we've got a young generation that's conscious but there's also an older generation that's stuck to the old ways and doesn't want to change. I'm just happy to see a real woke generation coming up that's all for tangata whenua, indigenous rights and not being an arsehole.
I've got a lot of Māori friends and there's always debate on we need to change with the times - as tikanga changed in the past. Why are we holding on to a lot of these things? Like how wāhine can't speak at the marae or they have to sit in the row behind. Stuff like that. It's an old way of thinking. A lot of tikanga was brought in post-colonisation so how true or tūturu are you to your tikanga anyway? There's heaps of debate like that, whether we should be changing stuff.
I'm one to avoid confrontation. I'm not a fighter. I'm a peacemaker. But I will always side with the side that is rightfully right. You know when things should be changed. You know because it's the right thing to do. If you're holding on to things, culturally or whatever it is, just for the sake of holding on to it, that's probably when you should change. If you don't have a valid reason for holding on to stuff then damn ... change.
But I try to stay away from politics. I haven't time to worry about petty little bulls**t things. My main focuses of my life are my family, number one, and music. That's pretty much it. That's what allows me to do stuff so fast because there's nothing else apart from those two things.
Find what makes life exciting for you and do that. Don't worry about all the other bulls**t.
* As told to Karl Puschmann. Troy Kingi's soundtrack for The Panthers is out August 13. You can also catch him live as he tours his new album Black Sea Golden Ladder, with collaborator Delaney Davidson around the country throughout August/September.