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22nd of October 2018

Entertainment



Award-winning Māori singer Amba Holly on the importance of te reo

As a child, musician Amba Holly (Waikato-Tainui) loved to sing on the marae. The award-winning singer spoke to UNICEF about the importance of te reo and balancing a music career with parenting. 

Te reo is a gift from our tupuna, our ancestors. They went through so much and fought so hard for our people. Their language was ripped away from them, so we not only owe it to them, but to ourselves to keep looking after it and sharing it.

Let's cherish and nourish our language so that we can pass it onto our children and their children. We belong to the whenua, we have such a connection with the land, and our reo is a part of that. 

Amba Holly (Waikato-Tainui) loved to sing on the marae as a small child.

SHELLEY KNOWLES

Amba Holly (Waikato-Tainui) loved to sing on the marae as a small child.

Even as a small child, I always loved to sing. I learnt to sing on demand on the marae! 

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As a Māori musician, one of my idols is a woman called Maisey Rika. Her wairua and her āhua is beautiful and she's always been inspirational to me.

Amba Holly said she wants her children to think of me as a Mana Wahine – a woman that can do everything.

SHELLEY KNOWLES

Amba Holly said she wants her children to think of me as a Mana Wahine – a woman that can do everything.

So, when I was lucky enough my meet my idol at the Māori music awards, and we realised that we were hapu at the same time, it confirmed to me that you don't have to put your life on hold when you have children. You can make it work if you've got that support. 

The hardest thing for me is trying to balance everything and be a good parent. A māmā is a wearer of all hats! My role is to provide for my children and be able to pave a path for them where they can live happily. 

It's constant mahi but it's so rewarding. 

It honestly feels like I'm in another world when I sing. I get to take my Mum hat off for a little bit and let my soul speak. I feel alive.

The toughest thing is trying to balance my music career and making sure the kids are all sorted before I have to go to sound check and practices.

My tamariki often come to my gigs and it's always them making the loudest ruckus and coming up to the stage when I'm trying to sing! We're lucky to live in a multicultural community and I see so many parents with their kids when I sing. It's not just Māori or Pakeha, there's so many different cultures and it just blows me away. 

Māori musician Amba Holly lost her own mother when the singer was just 12 years old.

SHELLEY KNOWLES

Māori musician Amba Holly lost her own mother when the singer was just 12 years old.

I want my children to think of me as a Mana Wahine – a woman that can do everything! Obviously, I appreciate men and my tamariki have got a great father, but I want my tamariki to know that if ever they have to do it on their own, that they can. Maori women can survive and be good, strong leaders for their children.

I was born in Waikato and then moved to the Hutt when I was about nine years old, soon after my Mum passed away.

It's pretty hard to lose a parent when you're a child. I was 12 years old, about to head into college, and still missing my Mum a lot. I was struggling to express what I was feeling, so I wrote a song about what I was going through. That song is definitely one of the deepest, most heartfelt songs that I've written.

I wanted people to know that regardless of the mistakes we make along the way, we've got to remember that we're loved. I'm lucky that I was able to live a good life after my Mum passed away. I was fortunate to have my sister, my older siblings, my Nan and Koru.

If you've got whanau support you're really lucky. 

As a Māori whanau, supporting each other is something we do naturally. 

It takes a village to raise a child and I was so lucky to be raised by a village. 

This article was supplied as part of Stuff's partnership with Unicef NZ. Unicef stands up for every child so they can have a childhood. Find out more at unicef.org.nz

 

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