Law graduate, documentary director and onetime talkback host Moana Maniapoto is also a longtime champion of music in te reo. With the Moahunters — vocalists Teremoana Rapley and Mina Ripia, backed by an accomplished team of funk musicians — she fused pop and hip hop with Māori culture and politics, and scored hit singles with ‘Black Pearl’ and ‘AEIOU’. After disbanding the Moahunters in 1998, she formed Moana and the Tribe. The group adds haka and video projections to create a multi-media experience which has enjoyed considerable international success on the world music circuit.
More than 20 years on, 'Treaty' remains as infectious as it does relevant, mixing haka, hip hop and funk to present a message on Māori sovereignty. Channelling the colours of the Tino Rangatiratanga flag, the video creates a fitting backdrop for lyrics delivered via the stirring vocals of Moana and the Moahunters, verses by rapper Bennett Pomana (Upper Hutt Posse, Dam Native), and elements of traditional performance. According to director Ross Cunningham, the set design was inspired by Ralph Hotere illustrations from a book of Hone Tuwhare poems.
The title track from Moana and the Moahunters’ gold-selling first album celebrates wahine and Māori cultural pride, via what singer Moana Maniapoto called “haka house music”. The fusion of traditional Māori sounds with contemporary grooves got to number nine in the charts. It was co-written with Andrew McNaughton and features vocalist Hareruia Aperahama (‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf’). Kerry Brown's video cuts the group singing together with kapa haka (the acclaimed Te Waka Huia) and whānau playing. Brown also directed the video for the group’s groundbreaking ‘AEIOU’.
This was the first music video funded by New Zealand on Air. The song is a colourful plea for Māori youth to preserve their culture by learning the reo — it also doubles as a handy guide to Māori pronunciation. Director Kerry Brown created vibrant animated backgrounds to match the song’s hip-hop beats. The cameo appearances include Moana Maniapoto’s father, MC OJ and the Rhythm Slave, Mika and various crew members. The Moahunters were Mina Ripia (who went on to her own act Wai) and Teremoana Rapley (from Upper Hutt Posse, who went on to manage King Kapisi).