Maui Arts & Entertainment

Te Vaka Returns to Maui on Oct. 28

August 20, 2015, 8:12 AM HST
* Updated August 20, 8:14 AM
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TeVaka-FlyBy Maui Now Staff

Opetaia Foa‘i’s South Pacific band Te Vaka will return to Maui for the first time in eight years for one night only, on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, at 7:30 p.m. at Maui Theatre Lahaina. Tickets go on sale today, Aug. 20, at the Maui Theatre Box Office.

Disney recently announced the Te Vaka soundtrack for Moana, its new animated feature.

Te Vaka, which means “the canoe,” is due to embark on its first major tour of the US since 2011. Hailed by critics as “A stereotype-smashing glimpse into the soul of the South seas” (Wired Magazine), “the finest South Pacific roots band” (World Music Central) and “one of the greatest South Pacific bands of all time” (Fiji Times), Te Vaka is an original voice in the contemporary music of the Pacific. Led by award-winning singer-songwriter Opetaia Foa‘i, Te Vaka’s melodies, Polynesian drums and world beat rhythms draw on its roots in the Tokelau, Samoa, Cook Islands and New Zealand Maori cultures as well as today’s funk, pop and rock sensibilities.

On Aug. 14, Disney announced at its sold-out fan expo D23 that Opetaia Foa‘i is composing the songs for the new Disney animated “princess” feature Moana (scheduled for November 2016 release). The musical team includes Tony-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (lyrics) and Grammy-winning composer Mark Mancina (Tarzan, The Lion King) (film score). Te Vaka starts to record these songs for the soundtrack this week.


The Maui News called Te Vaka “adrenaline-powered, bare-midriffed, percussion-pulsed, infectiously happy, beautiful people bringing ancient traditions into the modern world.”


With Opetaia on vocals and lead guitar, using open tunings often associated with slack key techniques, the band brings its lively energy to a mix of traditional and modern instruments—from log drums to electric guitar, bass and keyboards.

The beauty of the rich vocal harmonies, dancing that evokes Pacific traditions and the poetry of lyrics in Tokelauan and Samoan languages contradict the serious intent of many of the songs, which address current issues in the Pacific—climate change, family and cultural displacement, the more recent tolls of the tsunami in Samoa and drug culture among indigenous youth—as well as lighter issues. Yet, the band delivers up a rocking, joyful evening as the multi-talented musicians and singers double as dancers and chanters, Pacific-style.

Te Vaka has performed in 38 countries around the world, including Europe, Asia and the Pacific, and released seven albums and one live performance DVD to date.


Foa‘i and the band are working on their eighth release this summer.

Boasting an international following, Te Vaka has appeared at London’s Royal Albert Hall, at the Beijing Olympics, headlined music festivals throughout Europe, and has been a favorite at WOMAD festivals around the world.

The band has received numerous awards, including Best Polynesian Music Award at the 2011 Hawai‘i Music Awards, Best Pacific Group twice at the Pacific Music Awards as well as awards for Best Pacific Language Song for their newest CD Haoloto (2010) and Best Pacific Album for Tutuki (2008).

Foa‘i voiced his sentiments at the release of Te Vaka’s last CD, which can easily serve as the motto for the band: “Once the canoe got rolling with all on board, there was a feeling that we were heading for somewhere special.”

The concert will be sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines, Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort and Pacific Radio Group.

Tickets are $38 and $58; kids 12 and under $28 and $48. Maui Theatre Box Office is located 878 Front St. in Lahaina. Call the box office phone at (808) 856-7900. For more information, go online.


Dwayne (“The Rock”) Johnson is the voice of demi-god Maui in Disney’s Moana.

Moana directors are John Musker and Ron Clements (The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Frog, Aladdin). The producer is Osnat Shurer.

Tony-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, Grammy-winning composer Mark Mancina (Tarzan, The Lion King) and  Foa’i are working together to help tell the tale of a spirited teenager who sets out to prove herself a master wayfinder.

The official synopsis is that Moana “introduces a spirited teenager who sails out on a daring mission to fulfill her ancestors’ unfinished quest. She meets the once-mighty demi-god Maui and together they traverse the open ocean on an action-packed voyage.”

Moana will sail into US theaters on Nov. 23, 2016.

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