The sadness of saying goodbye to visiting whanaunga who live in Australia was the inspiration for Tommy Waititi’s waiata The Ol’famz-alee.
“I wrote it to keep their spirits high but really it’s for anyone, Māori or Pākehā, who’ve had to leave home or farewell a family member.
“I can’t own this song, because this story is shared with so many others in their own lives and captures us all as a whole. This is why I say that this is everybody’s song!”
“The times are moving on and pushing our people out into the world, and now I feel that all our gifts, talents and especially qualifications in our own fields are desperately needed back home here in Aotearoa.”
Like his dad Tommy was born and bred in Cape Runaway and is proud to say he still lives there. A father of three tamariki, he’s a teacher at the local kura, Te Kura Mana Maori o Whangaparaoa, where he also tutors kapa haka.
He’s always played a bit of social guitar but kept his musical prowess pretty much to himself until he decided to share his efforts with others by taking part in the E Tū Whānau Song competition.
However, he isn’t a complete stranger to performing. He went to China in 2010 and Scotland in 2014 as a member of the Whānau Apanui kapa haka group . In 2015 he went to Hawaii with another Te Whānau Apanui group, Tauira Mai Tawhiti.
Tommy reckons he’s had a good taste of the world but the East Coast is definitely where his heart is.
Check out the interviews with first prize winner East Coast Breevaz and third prize winner Maioha Panapa.