Te Vaka Profile

Graham Reid
2 Mar 2017

The acclaim for Opetaia Foa’i of Te Vaka for his music on the soundtrack to the animated Disney film Moana – which topped the Billboard soundtrack and children’s charts, and went to No.2 on the main US charts – is a story many decades in the telling.

For those who haven’t followed Te Vaka, it may seem like an overnight success, but they’ve long been a twist on the famous ad slogan: They are “world famous … except in New Zealand”.

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Te Vaka on the beach in 1998, taken in New Caledonia when the band were performing there. Band members from left to right: Daniel Foai, Neil Forrest, Sulata Foai-Amiatu, Manase Foai, Opetaia Foai, Etueni Pita, Alana Foai, Vasa Foai, Andrew Dukeson and Simon Hope.
Kaleve (live in Tahiti, 2005, with drums and chants)
The songwriting team on Moana, from left: Mark Mancina, Opetaia Foa’i, Lin-Manuel Miranda
Opetaia Foa’i with his daughter Olivia, a singer, dancer, songwriter and choreographer with Te Vaka
Te Vaka of the South Pacific in 2008
Te Vaka in 1998
Pate Mo Tou Vae (live at the Tollwood Festival, Munich, 1999)
Te Vaka perform at D23, a Disney expo that showcases upcoming features by Pixar, Disney and Marvel
Te Vaka at the World Roots Festival, Amsterdam, 2000
Pate Mo Tou Agaga (live in Alaska, 2011)
Te Vaka singers at the sessions for Moana at Warners
Te Vaka filming a video clip in Paris, 2000. They were asked to move along by French authorities. 
Tamahana (live in Tahiti, 2005)

Opetaia Foa'i with the cast and directors of Moana at the London premiere

Opetaia Foa'i with Moana composer Mark Mancina, standing, in the control room at Warner Brothers
Vakaaitu (live at the Pacific Music Awards, 2010)
Opetaia Foa’i performing at the Toata Stadium in Tahiti, 2005
Te Vaka at the world premiere of Moana
Opetaia Foa'i with members of the cast of Moana at the London premiere. At right is Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also wrote songs for the film
Opetaia Foa’i at the D23, 2015
Te Vaka with Mark Mancina, standing in the centre, back row. Mancina wrote the original score for Moana 
Pate Pate (live at the St Galen Festival, 2000)
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa'i - We Know The Way (from Moana)
Te Vaka with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, the voice of Maui in Moana

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Warm Earth Records