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Massive energy and presence on stage at “Heritage Trail” performance

People often describe music as the “language of the spirit”. The truth in this saying was very apparent during multi-award-winning hip-hop artist, Tipene Harmer’s performance last Saturday at The Whitianga Hotel.

The performance was part of Tipene’s national Heritage Trail tour and was, in his own words, “a spirit bomb”. It was the first time he took to the stage in Whitianga after moving to the area two years ago.

Kicking off at 9:00pm, well-known local musician and multi-instrumentalist, Vegas Brown, opened the show as a supporting act, followed by local rapper, Chance Haddon, and vocalist, Te Paea Puha, and Hamilton-based hip-hop trio, 4 Corners. Each brought their own energy and flair to the stage, equally thrilling the crowd filled with familiar faces, long-time music lovers and new fans. The packed-out audience were seen grooving to the rhymes and rhythms of the night, engaging with and soaking up the talent of each performer.

This was no different once the main act, the man of the hour, Tipene, arrived on stage with massive energy and presence, leaving the crowd completely absorbed in not only the flow and beat, but the stories, messages and lyrical genius behind each song, bringing a whole other meaning to “feeling the music”.

Head bartender of The Whitianga Hotel, Jaycob Callesen said the quality of the acts attracted a “great” crowd. “Our bartenders did an awesome job at holding the bar down for the night,” he said. “All the artists that got up on stage were mean as too. Their skill was unbelievable. I was particularly moved and inspired by many of the lyrics.”

Chance, who has been working under Tipene’s mentorship, said he felt “proud” to be performing in his hometown. “I’ve been rapping ever since I left school,” he said. “I’ve done a few gigs in places out of town like Hamilton, but this was my first time performing in Whitianga. Heaps of people I know came to see me, I definitely felt the support. To get up and represent Whitianga and the bros was a real proud moment for me. Tonight was a good experience for me. I plan to do many more gigs in the future.”

Tipene performed several tracks from his second album, “Heritage Trail”, which was released in September last year. He was supposed to tour earlier, but was forced to postpone his plans because of the Covid pandemic.

Heritage Trail is an album about whakapapa (geneology) and tipuna (ancestry), documenting the timeline of Māori in Aotearoa. Some of the songs Tipene performed were “Turangawaewae” and “West Side Hori”, both nominated as APRA silver scroll finalists, “Kupe”, a song cleverly created to tell the story of Polynesian explorer and navigator, Kupe, as well as a few unreleased songs from his untitled third album.

Tipene is on a mission to champion Māori culture. “While performing, I could see people chanting my lyrics,” he said. “I could also see that these same people were proud to be Māori. That’s my main purpose as an artist, to uplift our people.”

Future plans are already brewing for Tipene. However, all he’s willing to say is that “the Heritage Trail continues…”

Pictured is Tipene Harmer and the crowd pulling pūkanas at The Whitianga Hotel on Saturday evening last week.


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