Small but precious

Teen from Kaiti one step closer to reaching her goal.

Teen from Kaiti one step closer to reaching her goal.

MISS POU: Pounamu Wharehinga aka ‘Miss Pou’ will release her first EP recording ‘Ahakoa He Iti’ next week. Picture supplied
A screenshot of one of the early YouTube clips made by Miss Pou (then aged nine) and her dad Josh Wharehinga.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Betty-Anne Monga, Whirimako Black, Maisey Rika, Aaradhna, Anika Moa and Ngoi Pewhairangi . . . These are just a few names in the great pool of female singers and songwriters in Aotearoa music history. Gisborne teenager Pounamu Wharehinga (15), aka ‘Miss Pou’, has a dream to join the ranks of these artists. Reporter Shaan Te Kani discovers that this ‘small, but precious’ girl from Kaiti is one step closer to reaching her goal.

“Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu — although it is small, it is precious like a greenstone.”

This well-known Maori whakatauki, or proverb, could not be more fitting for Gisborne singer/songwriter Pounamu Wharehinga.

The 15-year-old, also known as Miss Pou, has a dream to share her music with the world. And while she may be young, she has a big voice, plenty of determination and talent to match her dream.

Now, that dream is becoming not only a reality, but a journey rich in experiences, encounters and opportunities.

Next week, Miss Pou will release her first EP recording, which features three songs and is appropriately named ‘Ahakoa He Iti’.

As well as being a play on her name, ‘Ahakoa He Iti’ symbolises the intention behind the EP — that even though it is a small offering, it is a precious one.

A huge milestone

It is a huge milestone from the early days of a cute little nine-year-old girl making YouTube video clips in her lounge, accompanied by her daddy on guitar.

There she began sharing her talent outside of her whanau, her kura and community, by singing cover songs of some of her favourite artists — including the late Ngoi Pewhairangi, Maisey Rika and Aaradhna.

Miss Pou has had more than 70,000 views on her YouTube channel, and has over 2200 followers on her Facebook page.

She has performed at numerous events and concerts including: Gisborne New Year celebrations, YOLO and The Fire in The Sky, and Auckland events, The PaoPaoPao Showcase and the Otara Matariki Gala.

Of Te Whanau a Iritekura, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Rongowhakaata, Te Arawa and Ngapuhi whakapapa, Miss Pou is one of six children in her whanau.

She attends Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Horouta Wananga and enjoys kapa haka. She also takes a Year 12 music class at Gisborne Girls’ High School.

From humble beginnings, this kotiro from Kaiti is going places.
“I have been singing all of my life. Ever since I was six years old, I knew I wanted to sing for the world,” said Miss Pou.
“This is just the start of my dream. I sing, I play the guitar and the piano. I write all of my own songs in both English and te reo Maori.

“I love songwriting and especially songs in te reo Maori. I am very passionate about te reo. I usually base my songs around kaupapa that have a strong meaning and purpose.

“I like to use my songs as a vehicle to get my views and messages across. I like to write songs that touch people’s hearts. I like to write songs about Ngai Maori and our ways.

First song written at just nine years of age

“I wrote my first song when I was nine and have been writing songs ever since.”

A previous winner of the YTP Te Reo Maori award at Pacifica Beats, Miss Pou received funding from Te Mangai Paho to record her first single ‘Turanga’ when she was 12.

“It’s a song about standing up for where you live. My dad takes us to protests. We had been marching against deep-sea oil drilling in the Raukumara basin on the East Coast. I wrote this song to tell people to stand against that.”

The ‘Ahakoa He Iti’ EP was also funded by Te Mangai Paho. All of the tracks are in te reo Maori, but the messages can relate to anyone, says Miss Pou.

The track ‘Ka Taka Te Po’ is a farewell song for kaumatua and elderly who have passed on, while ‘Io Matua (Te Nonoikura)’ is a mourning song for babies who have passed away far too soon. It has been described as being a cry to the world.

The final track, ‘Te Mata Ariki’ is about the Maori New Year / Te Tau Hou, and pays homage to Maori knowledge and traditions relating to the stars.

In this waiata, the influence of Aaradhna and Maisey Rika can be heard.

Miss Pou is fortunate that she has met some of her idols over the years, and has had them hear her talent.

She looks up to a plethora of talented Aotearoa singers and songwriters including the likes of Tangiwai Ria, Majic Paora and Ria Hall.

Rika once described Miss Pou as “a beautiful talented girl with a big, bright future ahead”.

Francis Kora of the well-known New Zealand band Kora, first met Pou when she was 12.

“. . . she blew me away then, I’m really looking forward to seeing what impact her music has on Aotearoa,” he said.

Miss Pou also worked with fellow East Coast artist Rob Ruha during the EP recording.

As number one fan and supporter of Miss Pou, her father/manager Josh Wharehinga has always felt the need to help “empower her dreams”.

“Pou has always wanted to perform ever since she was little,” said Josh.

“When she said, ‘dad this is what I want to do’, I thought, ‘OK, let’s do this’.

“We’re very humbled by the support we’ve received from Te Mangai Paho. It was quite a big deal when she first received the funding to record. They were giving funding to a 12-year-old, but said the quality of the song and the potential she has, is what sold it.

“They also took other things into consideration such as the high number of views on her YouTube channel.

“She recorded the EP at The Lab studios in Auckland and was able to work with some of her idols, who in that setting also became her peers.

“Rather than teaching down to her, they worked with her, and that was really great.”

Miss Pou plans to tour her Ahakoa He Iti EP across East Coast kura kaupapa Maori (total immersion Maori schools) first, then to the rest of Aotearoa.

  • There will be an EP release night at Toihoukura on Friday, April 13, and tracks will officially be released on April 14th on online platforms — iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and Bandcamp.
  • <<<<

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Betty-Anne Monga, Whirimako Black, Maisey Rika, Aaradhna, Anika Moa and Ngoi Pewhairangi . . . These are just a few names in the great pool of female singers and songwriters in Aotearoa music history. Gisborne teenager Pounamu Wharehinga (15), aka ‘Miss Pou’, has a dream to join the ranks of these artists. Reporter Shaan Te Kani discovers that this ‘small, but precious’ girl from Kaiti is one step closer to reaching her goal.

“Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu — although it is small, it is precious like a greenstone.”

This well-known Maori whakatauki, or proverb, could not be more fitting for Gisborne singer/songwriter Pounamu Wharehinga.

The 15-year-old, also known as Miss Pou, has a dream to share her music with the world. And while she may be young, she has a big voice, plenty of determination and talent to match her dream.

Now, that dream is becoming not only a reality, but a journey rich in experiences, encounters and opportunities.

Next week, Miss Pou will release her first EP recording, which features three songs and is appropriately named ‘Ahakoa He Iti’.

As well as being a play on her name, ‘Ahakoa He Iti’ symbolises the intention behind the EP — that even though it is a small offering, it is a precious one.

A huge milestone

It is a huge milestone from the early days of a cute little nine-year-old girl making YouTube video clips in her lounge, accompanied by her daddy on guitar.

There she began sharing her talent outside of her whanau, her kura and community, by singing cover songs of some of her favourite artists — including the late Ngoi Pewhairangi, Maisey Rika and Aaradhna.

Miss Pou has had more than 70,000 views on her YouTube channel, and has over 2200 followers on her Facebook page.

She has performed at numerous events and concerts including: Gisborne New Year celebrations, YOLO and The Fire in The Sky, and Auckland events, The PaoPaoPao Showcase and the Otara Matariki Gala.

Of Te Whanau a Iritekura, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Rongowhakaata, Te Arawa and Ngapuhi whakapapa, Miss Pou is one of six children in her whanau.

She attends Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Horouta Wananga and enjoys kapa haka. She also takes a Year 12 music class at Gisborne Girls’ High School.

From humble beginnings, this kotiro from Kaiti is going places.
“I have been singing all of my life. Ever since I was six years old, I knew I wanted to sing for the world,” said Miss Pou.
“This is just the start of my dream. I sing, I play the guitar and the piano. I write all of my own songs in both English and te reo Maori.

“I love songwriting and especially songs in te reo Maori. I am very passionate about te reo. I usually base my songs around kaupapa that have a strong meaning and purpose.

“I like to use my songs as a vehicle to get my views and messages across. I like to write songs that touch people’s hearts. I like to write songs about Ngai Maori and our ways.

First song written at just nine years of age

“I wrote my first song when I was nine and have been writing songs ever since.”

A previous winner of the YTP Te Reo Maori award at Pacifica Beats, Miss Pou received funding from Te Mangai Paho to record her first single ‘Turanga’ when she was 12.

“It’s a song about standing up for where you live. My dad takes us to protests. We had been marching against deep-sea oil drilling in the Raukumara basin on the East Coast. I wrote this song to tell people to stand against that.”

The ‘Ahakoa He Iti’ EP was also funded by Te Mangai Paho. All of the tracks are in te reo Maori, but the messages can relate to anyone, says Miss Pou.

The track ‘Ka Taka Te Po’ is a farewell song for kaumatua and elderly who have passed on, while ‘Io Matua (Te Nonoikura)’ is a mourning song for babies who have passed away far too soon. It has been described as being a cry to the world.

The final track, ‘Te Mata Ariki’ is about the Maori New Year / Te Tau Hou, and pays homage to Maori knowledge and traditions relating to the stars.

In this waiata, the influence of Aaradhna and Maisey Rika can be heard.

Miss Pou is fortunate that she has met some of her idols over the years, and has had them hear her talent.

She looks up to a plethora of talented Aotearoa singers and songwriters including the likes of Tangiwai Ria, Majic Paora and Ria Hall.

Rika once described Miss Pou as “a beautiful talented girl with a big, bright future ahead”.

Francis Kora of the well-known New Zealand band Kora, first met Pou when she was 12.

“. . . she blew me away then, I’m really looking forward to seeing what impact her music has on Aotearoa,” he said.

Miss Pou also worked with fellow East Coast artist Rob Ruha during the EP recording.

As number one fan and supporter of Miss Pou, her father/manager Josh Wharehinga has always felt the need to help “empower her dreams”.

“Pou has always wanted to perform ever since she was little,” said Josh.

“When she said, ‘dad this is what I want to do’, I thought, ‘OK, let’s do this’.

“We’re very humbled by the support we’ve received from Te Mangai Paho. It was quite a big deal when she first received the funding to record. They were giving funding to a 12-year-old, but said the quality of the song and the potential she has, is what sold it.

“They also took other things into consideration such as the high number of views on her YouTube channel.

“She recorded the EP at The Lab studios in Auckland and was able to work with some of her idols, who in that setting also became her peers.

“Rather than teaching down to her, they worked with her, and that was really great.”

Miss Pou plans to tour her Ahakoa He Iti EP across East Coast kura kaupapa Maori (total immersion Maori schools) first, then to the rest of Aotearoa.

  • There will be an EP release night at Toihoukura on Friday, April 13, and tracks will officially be released on April 14th on online platforms — iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and Bandcamp.
  • <<<<
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