ArianaColour DFD 2406

Ariana is a composer and performer of waiata in te reo Māori and English, as well as an exponent of taonga puoro.

Although now living in Wellington, her music is inspired and influenced by her Kāi Tahu (Māori) ancestry from The South Island of New Zealand. Ariana began writing waiata in the Kāi Tahu dialect while studying at Otago University in the early ‘90s and started performing in 1993 with the folk group, ‘Pounamu’. She started her solo career in the 2000s and has released three solo (Whaea, Tuia, and From Dust to Light) and three collaborative albums, and several music videos, one of which (for ‘Tuia’) won an international award at the imagiNATIVE film + media festival in Toronto in 2009. She collaborates regularly with Alistair Fraser and has also performed with Horomona Horo and James Webster. Ariana has been formally mentored by Dr Richard Nunns, and supported by Brian Flintoff, two of the people at the forefront of the revival of taonga puoro.

In 2015 Ariana was a soloist with the APO at the Auckland Arts Festival performing kōauau and singing a karakia for Kenneth Young’s ‘In Paradisum’. She co-composed with Philip Brownlee, the first concerto for taonga puoro, ‘Ko te tātai whetū,’ which she also performed with the CSO for its world premiere in June 2015, and then again accompanied by Bob Bickerton with the NSO in 2019. The concerto is based around a traditional mōteatea, which relays a southern version of the story of Hinetītama and Tāne. In 2016 Ariana was a featured singer in John Psathas’s epic international collaboration ‘No Man’s Land’.


Photography by David St George