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Maori Music Impresses Industry Leaders In Europe

Maori Music Impresses Industry Leaders In Europe

Wellington, December 4, 2001 -- Maori music is poised to make global waves after a series of stunningly successful presentations to key industry players in Europe and the United Kingdom.

Members of a Trade New Zealand Maori Music Export Network recently returned from a three-week overseas trip, which included attending the prestigious Womex World Music Trade Exhibition in Rotterdam and meetings with music industry leaders in Amsterdam, Paris and London.

Both Trade New Zealand and the Music Industry Commission, set up last year to support the development of contemporary New Zealand music, helped fund the trip.

A highlight for the Export Network was the naming of New Zealand music group Wai as finalists in two categories of the first ever world music awards. World music includes roots, folk, ethnic, traditional, local music and other styles outside the mainstream.

There are nine categories in the BBC Radio3 Awards, which are regarded as the “Grammy Awards” of world music. They are being judged by a jury of world music professionals with the winners to be announced on Radio3 on January 28, 2002. Wai, the winner of the Mana Maori Music Award at this year’s New Zealand Music Awards, are finalists for the Innovation award and the category of best performer from the Asia/Pacific region.

The driving force behind the Maori Music Network is, a company set up to sell, market and promote Maori music to overseas distributors and wholesalers. The network is one of a number of export groups working in partnership with Trade New Zealand through its export networks programme to grow their foreign exchange earnings.

Company directors James Moss and Neil Cruickshank are the first New Zealanders to attend Womex, using the forum to promote and market eight New Zealand Maori record companies and labels.

A total of five Maori musicians also went to the event – four members of Wai and singer Toni Huata.

Neil Cruickshank says the reception they received exceeded their wildest expectations.

“We found a gap in the marketplace just waiting to be filled,” Mr Cruickshank says. “There is a huge amount of interest in Maori music, with demand for both recordings and live performances.”

Since its premier in 1994, Womex has been held annually in Europe, attracting performers, speakers and exhibitors from all corners of the world. There is intense competition to be selected for one of the showcase performances that take place each night of the four-day event.

The New Zealanders were invited to present a seminar on Maori music, and used the occasion to also deliver live performances by Toni Huata and Wai.

The impact of the shows, combined with the quality recordings and information available on the group’s trade stand, resulted in successful negotiations with a range of agents and distributors.

These include an agreement for distributing recordings in the United Kingdom, with Australia to follow in the near future. Negotiations are also underway to begin distribution in Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium.

In addition both of the groups that performed at Womex are receiving a steady stream of offers to perform at world music festivals and events next year.

Trade New Zealand’s Account Manager for the Maori Export Network, Rino Tirikatene, says the growing popularity of world music, particularly in Europe, makes it the perfect time to get Maori music onto the global stage.

“The traditional kapa haka performance has an important role to play but there are difficulties taking that kind of show overseas because of the numbers and logistics involved,” Rino Tirikatene says.

“This trip showed us the exciting opportunities out there for small groups of multi talented performers who can present the traditional Maori art form in a contemporary way.”

In London, Trade New Zealand helped to organise a highly successful reception at New Zealand House, which attracted key music industry representatives including the head of MTV Europe.

The reception began with a Maori welcome by Ngati Ranana, a London-based Maori culture group, and both Wai and Toni Huata performed.

The following night members of the Maori Export Network attended the launch of the latest world music compilation CD put out by Virgin Records, which includes a track by Wai., Wai and Toni Huata all plan to be back at Womex next year, as part of a longer term strategy which Neil Cruickshank says has the potential to benefit all Maori artists.

“The philosophy of both and the Export Network is to provide an umbrella for individuals to work co-operatively and share resources,” Neil Cruickshank says. “We see Wai’s success this year as being good for Maori music as a whole.”

Rino Tirikatene says Trade New Zealand will continue to help to develop export opportunities for Maori music, an initiative that could also benefit other businesses.

“The recent Maori performances overseas reached people on an emotional level. There is good potential to leverage other business as a spin-off of greater exposure to that cultural element,” he says.

For more information please contact:

Neil Cruickshank
04 939 3844, Email

Rino Tirikatene
Maori Enterprise Team Account Manager
Trade New Zealand
Ph 04 496 6496, Email

Distributed by Aimee McClinchy, Trade New Zealand Communications, Ph 09-915 5628 Email

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