Moana Maniapoto Profile

Chris Bourke
Published: 28 Sep 2016
Updated: 15 Apr 2019

With her very first single in 1982, Moana Maniapoto laid down a manifesto. ‘Kaore He Wahine’ was in te reo, about the legend of Hinemoa and Tutanekai; the title translates as ‘No Woman Can Compare’. Credited to Aromoana, it was a duet with Aroaro Hond, a rising star in TVNZ’s Māori Unit. Surprisingly, the single was released on a mainstream label, Polydor.

Unsurprisingly, it received little radio play, and Maniapoto continued with her day – and night – jobs. By day she was a law student, graduating in 1984 but not joining the profession, as by then she was disillusioned with the justice system. At night, she moonlighted in the competitive nightclub scene of South Auckland, singing cover versions of artists such as Chaka Khan and Madonna.

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Moana Maniapoto with Cyril Neville of the Neville Brothers, backstage at the 1992 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
Photo credit: Simon Lynch
Moana and the Moahunters: Moana Maniapoto, Teremoana Rapley, Minia Ripia, 1993
Moana and the Moahunters - Black Pearl (1990)
Moana And The Moahunters' 1998 album Rua
Moana Maniapoto and Dave Dobbyn at the NZ Music Awards, 1995
Moana and the Moahunters - AEIOU
Moana Maniapoto, 2004
Moana Maniapoto at the 1999 NZ Music Awards with the Tui for Best Mana Māori album for Moana and The Moahunters' album Rua
Moana Maniapoto on the cover of Planet magazine, 1993
Kim Willoughby and Moana Maniapoto, APRA Silver Scroll awards, Auckland Town Hall, 2000
Moana And The Moahunters: Minia Ripia, Teremoana Rapley and Moana Maniapoto, 1993
Moana Maniapoto and Andrew Fagan: the pair recorded his song 'I'll Be the One' on the Moahunters' Tahi album, 1993.
Moana Maniapoto at the 1999 NZ Music Awards with the Tui for Best Mana Māori album for Moana and The Moahunters' album Rua
Moana Maniapoto
Moana with Cyril and Charles Neville of the Neville Brothers, outside Tipitina's, New Orleans, April 1992. 
Photo credit: Chris Bourke
Moana Maniapoto's 2016 induction speech at the APRA Silver Scrolls
Moana and the Moahunters in New Orleans: Keepers of the Flame, 1992
Making Music - Moana Maniapoto
Moana Maniapoto on the cover of APRA magazine Aprap, July 2004
Moana and the Moahunters - Tahi
Moana's 1987 single 'Kua Makona', released via Dalvanius Prime's Maui label
Moana Maniapoto was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2016. The Hall of Fame is an initiative of Recorded Music NZ and the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), whose support of AudioCulture enables the site to stream music content.