Basically since forever ago I have had a strong affinity to New Zealand songstresses. For your listening pleasure, I have collated some absolutely stellar wāhine kaiwaiata kaitito/singer songwriters: many of whom have written music that has spoken deeply to my soul. As well as that, their music has seen me through puberty, teenhood, young adulthood – and all of them have helped me figure out just how gay I really am by being drop dead gorgeous.
This wahine is an absolute gift to Aotearoa, and we do not deserve her. I had the privilege of seeing her live a couple of years ago, and it was transcendent. Her voice is strong, expressive, and she masterfully confronts issues like racism (Brown Girl), depression (I’m Not the Same), as well as weaving cultural contexts into much of her music (Secret Lover, Soul Food – The Island Way).
Genre/s: Soul, R&B, pop
Years active: 2004 – present
- I Love You (2006)
- Sweet Soul Music (2008)
- Treble & Reverb (2012)
- Brown Girl (2016)
Top Song Picks: Brown Girl, Can We Go Back, Diggin’ Your Love, Empty Hall, I Love You, I’m Not the Same, Great Man, Down Time, Messin Around, They Don’t Know, Soul Food – The Island Way, Secret Lover, Under the Blue Moon, Wake Up
Fave Album/s: Treble & Reverb, Brown Girl
Gorgeous tonality, Moa’s voice is sooo easy to listen to. Also a comedienne, I love both her Anika Moa: Unleashed series and her music catalogue. Her Instagram stories give me life and she is a true lesbian icon. My future babies will definitely be listening to the Songs for Bubbas trilogy.
Years active: 1999 – present
- Thinking Room (2002)
- Stolen Hill (2005)
- In Swings the Tide (2007)
- Love in Motion (2010)
- Peace of Mind (2013)
- Songs for Bubbas (2013)
- Queen At the Table (2015)
- Songs for Bubbas: Vol 2 (2016)
- Anika Moa (2018)
- Songs for Bubbas: Vol 3 (2019)
Top Song Picks: Dreams in My Head, Flowers for You, God in His Culture, Ka Whakanuia Ano, Taniwha Taniwha, Youthful
I grew up on Bic. My parents have extraordinarily good taste, imo: there’s always a huge nostalgia factor whenever I listen to her music. I love how she uses 3/4 time signatures – you don’t hear that very often within the mainstream. I saw her in Waipara at the Winery Tour in 2017, alongside Brooke Fraser and that guy who came third in New Zealand X-Factor, Benny Tipene. Runga is radiant; her upper register is to die for, and her voice is like silk. You will thank yourself for listening.
Genre/s: folk rock, pop rock
Years active: 1996 – present
Fave Album: Beautiful Collision
- Drive (1997)
- Beautiful Collision (2002)
- Birds (2005)
- Belle (2011)
- Close Your Eyes (2016)
Her song Sway featured on Singstar Pop. I sung that soooo many times.
Top Song Picks:
Beautiful Collision, Blue Blue Heart, Bursting Through, Devil on Tambourine, Get Some Sleep, Listening for the Weather, Something Good, Sway, When I See You Smile
Considering I got the nickname Brooke at school in year 9, I think this one goes pretty deep. I have been a fan since the age of 12. I really related to her testimony of being a Christian who didn’t grow up in a Christian household, both of us having found faith in a similar way. Musically, her voice has an impressive range, and her tone is melodic and rich. Her philosophical and inquisitive nature is deeply reflected in her lyricism, with many allusions to biblical thematics. Her reflections are insightful and she weaves the subtly spiritual into her music within the mainstream sphere.
Genre/s: pop, Christian
Years active: 2002 – present
- What to Do With Daylight (2003)
- Albertine (2006)
- Flags (2010)
- Brutal Romantic (2014)
- B Sides (2018)
Fave Album: Flags
Top Song Picks:
Albertine, Better, Bloodrush, Coachella, Crows + Locusts, Deciphering Me, Hosanna, Hosea’s Wife, Lifeline, Orphans Kingdoms, Psychosocial, Shadow Feet, The Equator, Thunder, Start a War, Waste Another Day, Who Are We Fooling?, You Can Close Your Eyes
Fun fact/s: both times that I have seen her live (2015 & 2017) she was heavily pregnant, which imo is a pretty incredible feat to be able to perform whilst hapū.
Kimbra was my obsession between 2014-2017. I still love her music to pieces, and I refuse to pick a favourite album. I saw her perform live in Wellington a few years ago, and it was ethereal. In her earlier music career, her style had a very jazz feel to it; now her sound is a lot more electronic – we love it all! She will always be a go to when I need to belt out some tunes while making dinner.
Genre/s: indie pop, pop, R&B
Years active: 2000 – present
- Vows (2011)
- The Golden Echo (2014)
- Primal Heart (2018)
Top Song Picks:
90’s Music, Black Sky, Call Me, Cameo Lover, Everybody Knows, Goldmine, Good Intent, Lightyears, Nobody But You, Past Love, Recovery, Waltz Me to the Grave
Fun fact: My friend’s older sister went to school with her so if that doesn’t tell you how small New Zealand is then idk mate.
Maisey Rika’s music is probably my current obsession. He rite tonu tōna reo ki te anahera, she sings like an angel. Her music gives insight into te ao Māori, speaks of ātua (Tangaroa Whakamautai), uara/values (Pumau Tonu, Haumanu) and to whakaaro Māori (Omaio, Repeat Offender, Reconnect, Sink or Swim). She is an absolute powerhouse when it comes to vocals, and I have learned and reflected on so much from her lyrics. I particularly love and appreciate her version of my favourite Christmas carol, O Holy Night (Tapu te Pō).
Genre/s: acoustic, folk, soul, waiata Māori
Years active: 1999 – present
- 20 Favourite Māori Songs (1999)
- Maisey Rika (2009)
- Tohu (2009)
- Whitiora (2012)
- Tira (2016)
Top Song Picks: Haumanu, Ohomairangi, Omaio, Pokarekare Ana, Repeat Offender, Rua-Tekau-Mā-Waru, T’ariki Tama o Mere, Tapu te Pō, Whitiora
Fave Album: Whitiora
Ones to Watch:
These four up and coming Wellington-based musicians are creating very cool new music as we speak, and they definitely deserve your listening ears! From Belladonna‘s breezy easy-listening jams, to Hybrid Rose‘s electro-pop grooves, to Josie Moon‘s intoxicating and alternative sound, to CRYSTAL‘s dark and melancholic style, these young wāhine have got your Covid19 jams covered:
Belladonna: Calling Out Your Name, Hands
Read her Sniffers article here.
CRYSTAL: The Chase, My Flowers Are Dead
Hybrid Rose: Heaven Spills (feat. Emily Riordan), Marshmallow Pussy (feat. Gingerkiss), Mr. Spaceman
Watch her featured video on NZMusician here.
Josie Moon: Call Me, Satellite, Victor Hotel
Read her NahZone article here.