Season 1, Episode 2

Sounds of the Moana

The Origin of Sounds

What is the indigenous sound of Moana-Nui-ā-Kiwa (Oceania)? What has been lost and gained over the course of history, and how can the musical identity of the great Moana be kept alive today? Explore these questions, and more, in this two-part series hosted by Tau’ili’ili Alpha Maiava.
This project was made in partnership with the Pacific Peoples music community, cultural advisors and knowledge holders.

Sounds of the Moana has won Gold (the highest category award) at the prestigious New York Festivals Radio Awards (NYFRA).

Musical instruments and musical expression take on an almost infinite variety of forms throughout the world. This is especially true in Oceania, or the ‘Moana’, which embodies more than 1,800 different peoples and cultures and an astonishing variety of musical instruments.

In this episode, we explore the origin stories and hear the sounds of three musical instruments found in all motu (islands) that are linked by the great Moana: the conch shell (pū/foafoa), the wooden slit drum (pātē), and the nose flute (fangufangu/vivo ko’e). These musical instruments play integral roles in contexts ranging from religious rites to secular entertainment, and each comes with a plethora of stories, worldviews, and practices that are particular and unique to each motu.

Join Tau’ili’ili Alpha Maiava and guests as they look at the traditional functions of each of these instruments in daily life and discuss the ways in which they are still used today.

Host: Tau’ili’ili Alpha Maiava
Guests: Leuga Ape Taua’ana Ata Sofara, Ma’ara Maeva, John Kiria, Hūfanga-He-Ako-Moe-Lotu Dr. ‘Okusitino Mahina

 To listen to Episode 1: Sounds of the Navigators, please click here

For additional resources, please click here

Production team
Producers: Tau’ili’ili Alpha Maiava, Sophie Yana Wilson
Sound Engineered by Phil Brownlee
Research: Tau’ili’ili Alpha Maiava
Script Advisor: Kirsten Johnstone
Production Assistance: Roger Smith, Kelly Mata, Nina Lesperance, Jonathan Engle, Alpana Chovhan
Executive Producers: Diana Marsh, Tiumalu Noma Sio-Faiumu, Leoné Venter




Special thanks to
Archive of Māori & Pacific Sound, The University of Auckland
Cover Art: Kennedy Kioa Toi Faimanifo of Manatoa Productions

This podcast is supported by funding from Creative New Zealand.



© Copyright Centre for New Zealand Music Trust


Tau’ili’ili Alpha Maiava
Alpha is an international entertainer who moved back to NZ in 2019. He is the recipient of 3 international music awards and has appeared in international films and TV commercials. He has hosted TV shows aimed at the Pacific community in NZ and abroad and was a host for Radio Samoa and 531pi Pacific Breakfast. Pacific music history is a passion of Alpha’s, he researches and curates many of the interviewees for his Radio shows. Alpha is a well-known MC in the entertainment and corporate world. He has hosted many events as well as the Pacific Music Awards and has appeared in online and traditional media shows in NZ and abroad. He is a highly-accomplished integrated marketing and business development communication professional with a 20-year career in the Middle East and throughout Australasia. Being multilingual he is at ease and respectful in complex cultural spaces with community, industry, and cultural leaders.


Leuga Ape Taua’ana Ata Sofara
Leuga Ape Taua’ana Ata Sofara is a Samoan matai, a history teacher, and a guardian of Gagana Samoa, the Samoan language. Leuga is very well known Samoan orator and knowledge holder in Samoan oral pre-christian history. He is tutor for advance Samoan matai-system language and cultural advisor for ACC.


Ma’ara Maeva
Ma`ara Maeva is a Learning Specialist at Auckland War Memorial Museum Auckland New Zealand where he develops and delivers schools and community programs based on material culture. He is a descendant of the supreme god Io-te-atua-nui-manomano-tini and is a knowledge holder in east Polynesian cultures. He is of Mauke Cook Islands parentage and is steeped in the cultural traditions and knowledge of his heritage. He holds a Master’s degree in archaeology from the University of Auckland


John Kiria
Kia Orana my name is John Kiria.

I hail from the island of Aitutaki & Rakahanga in the Cook Islands.

I’m 49years young. I am very passionate about the Cook Islands music, culture and art. I am the founder of the well known Cook Island dance team called Anuanua Performing Arts Troupe and the Anuanua Trio Band based in Auckland.

Most of my life -I’ve been heavily involved with culture, the reo and entertaining . I have 9 brothers and 2 sisters. Three of my brothers are pastors and residing in Australia, Aitutaki and New Zealand.
I’m a former dance champion, in the single, duet and International level of Cook Island dancing. I work with Dr Joe Williams Health Clinic as a Whanau Ora Navigator helping our Pacific community. I also do interpreting/translation/advocating for our Cook Island people involved in the Justice , Health, Social Developments and Education Departments. I’m a Cultural Advisor for the PMA Group (Pacific Medical Association) and the CIHNA -Cook Island Health Network Association.
In my spare time I love to create music, compose songs and also teach young people the art of drumming and dancing. I also love fishing, most sports and travelling.

I have a young family who I’m teaching what I know..drumming, dancing, singing .I do a lot mc’ing work – from the annual Pasifika Festivals (Cook Island Village), Polyfest Festival, Te Maevanui NZ and local events -birthdays etc.

Kia Manuia


Hūfanga-He-Ako-Moe-Lotu Dr. ‘Okusitino Mahina
Born in the Tongan village of Tefisi on the island of Vava’u, Hūfanga-He-Ako-Moe-Lotu Dr ‘Okusitino Mahina was the only one of 11 children in his family to attend university. He graduated from Auckland University with a BA in anthropology and sociology as well as a masters degree in social anthropology with first-class honours, and then completed his PhD in Pacific history at the Australian National University in Canberra.

A keen student of Western philosophy, Dr Mahina says he created his Pacific-driven time-space theory as a way of making sense of the world from an indigenous Pasifika worldview. He continues to develop his theory and has published extensively, while a number of masters and PhD students in New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands and the United States have embraced the theory and applied it to their various disciplines.

“The ta-va, time-space theory is so general and formal that it enters into all fields of inquiry, within and across nature, mind and society,” he says.

Dr Mahina lectured in social work in 1993 and 1994 before moving to Auckland University where he taught Pacific Political Economy and Pacific Arts in Anthropology. As well as supervising several Pacific-related theses, he has lead projects on Tongan research, and curriculum development relating to Maori and Pasifika performing arts. He has also written and edited several projects, including a volume in a series on Pacific leadership, a collection of his political, educational, artistic and philosophical essays, speeches and writings, and a book of his poems in both Tongan and English.

Dr Mahina, who was awarded the Creative NZ Pasifika Heritage Award 2007, is also an accomplished performer of the traditional Tongan instrument, the fangufangu, a bamboo pipe played by blowing through a nostril.