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World Music CD Reviews South Asia

TE VAKA

By Nathan Gilbert
Published January 20, 2006

Tutuki
Warm Earth

With the increase of tourism and the rise of water levels due to global warming, traditional Polynesian culture in the South Pacific is under threat.  Te Vaka, who sing mostly in Tokelau, an indigenous New Zealand dialect, and perform to the pulsing sound of the pate log drum, as well as other Polynesian and Western instruments, is here to preserve and promote that culture. Their latest album, Tutuki, combines tradition with innovation to pioneer a new pan-Polynesian musical direction. Though based in New Zealand, the band’s 11 members hail from all over the South Pacific, and they come together here to blend their voices into warm and earthy harmonies. Their lyrics speak of love, beauty and tradition, while maintaining a contemporary feel. The title track gives a good account of Te Vaka’s uplifting harmonies, while “Magalogalo” offers up vibrant and captivating rhythms. One can almost feel the sea breezes, as Te Vaka takes you on a tour of Polynesia.