Born and raised in Maungatapu, Tauranga, bilingual singer Ria Hall used her hometown’s history as inspiration for her powerful debut album, Rules of Engagement. The title came from a letter that Henare Taratoa (Ngāi Te Rangi) sent in 1864 to the first Governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey, outlining a code of conduct for The Battle of Gate Pā (Pukehinahina) – a key battle of the New Zealand Wars. Both political and personal, the 2017 album established Hall as one of the most thoughtful voices in New Zealand music.
As a student at Tauranga Girls’ College, Hall listened to Che Fu’s groundbreaking album 2b S.Pacific over and over again while studying for exams. “2b S.Pacific changed the entire hip-hop, soul and R&B scene in New Zealand,” she remembers. “It was such a necessary record at the time. I just found it really inspiring that he was Māori/Niuean and representing unashamedly what was possible in the New Zealand music scene for someone of a Polynesian persuasion.”