Now living in Australia, we don't always make it to the New Zealand Pacific Music awards and in fact we haven't attended since 2010 when Te Vaka won two awards for the 'Haoloto album' and the band performed live on the night. When Universal music nominated, Opetaia, Olivia, Vai, Sulata and Matthew for categories in this year’s awards we were not sure whether we could make it but when they were all announced as finalists, with Olivia in two categories - the "Best Pacific female artist" and "Best Pacific language song" we thought we had better be there. You do get over flying when you have flown as much as we have in the last few years and we had only just returned from the Music Manager Awards but we had to be there so bags were packed and we headed to the Airport already looking forward to getting home again.
All the New Zealand band members and all their families came. Vai had all her family there and was particularly excited as she had been nominated for “Best Pacific language song” for her wonderful performance of “Innocent Warrior” on the Moana movie. We had been told before arriving that Opetaia would be receiving the Special recognition award for “Outstanding Achievement”. This award is not given out every year only when deserved so we knew they were planning something but nothing could have prepared us for what happened. No-one had even given a hint of what was planned, although the chairman of the Pacific Music Awards got us a little suspicious when he urged us to make sure we were at our seats by 7.30pm as the doors were going to be locked. Even so we didn’t expect what happened next…… The lighting, the costumes, the choreography and the incredible voices of children as young as 4 taking to the stage with a full live band to perform songs from Moana as a tribute to Opetaia. From the first “Tulou” that wailed out from the stage everyone’s eyes were full of tears and when another young singer started singing “Innocent warrior” the girl’s makeup was ruined. These incredibly talented young Pacific performers sung and danced “We know the way” and “Logo te pate” ending on “How far I’ll go” where they transported a real life little Moana onto the stage. The whole show would have been spectacular and thrilling for people not intimately connected to the music but for Opetaia, Olivia, Vai, Sulata, Matthew and Malcolm who had performed these songs at Warner Brothers studios for the movie it was hugely emotional and such a wonderful thing to experience. All I can say is wow!!!! Thank you so much to the Saintz Up Performing Arts Trust for putting in all the work it took to create such a wonderful tribute performance and thank you to the Pacific Music Awards for insisting that we attended. We went home with two awards - Special recognition for "Outstanding Achievement" for Opetaia and Olivia won "Best Pacific Language song" for Tulou Tagaloa", the opening track she performs on the Disney Feature film "Moana".