Growing up in Horowhenua, Te KuraHuia (Ngāi Tara, Ngāti Raukawa) went to a kura where all her classmates were dedicated to elite sports, but she found herself pulled towards the performing arts.
"I'm what I call a 'tutu-er' - I do a bit of everything. My godmother is a filmmaker and my cousin is an actress, so I had a lot of experience in the film industry growing up. When I finished school, I did a bit of weaving then became a Māori performing artist doing kapa haka at the Kahurangi Māori Theatre Dance Company in Hastings."
With this background, Te KuraHuia, says it just made sense to continue down this creative path. Inspired by a former teacher at Kahurangi, when she saw that UCOL | Te Pūkenga was offering a music programme she decided to come and study in Palmerston North.
"I decided to study music thanks to a previous teacher of mine who passed away. It wasn't really even to do with the music, it was how he treated me. My tutor at UCOL really reminded me of him too. They both pushed me to my limits - to be the best I can.
"I loved my course so much! The way the tutors taught was so engaging and inspiring. I sometimes struggle paying attention in a classroom environment, but they used really effective teaching techniques and made sure I learnt in a way that was best for me."
Te KuraHuia says the skills she learnt at UCOL helped to launch her music career before she even finished studying.
"Not only did we learn about musical genres and performance, but they taught us other skills critical to our success like how to get funding, how to get in touch with people, and how to master the sound of my track.
"I graduated last year, but I wanted to stay on just to see my tutors. I would love to study with them again but unfortunately I've finished all their papers!
"Since graduating, I've performed all over the North Island and beyond. I was even asked to perform as an artist in the Asinabka Media and Film Festival in Ottawa, Canada, last year."
Most recently, Te KuraHuia featured in the line up of the FIFA Fan Festival alongside headliner Maisey Rika. The event was put on to help promote the FIFA Women's World Cup and to acknowledge female artists in Aotearoa.
"It was a big crowd! I was supposed to open for Maisey, but at the last minute they asked me if I wanted to perform last so I could have a bigger audience, which was pretty cool!"
Following the festival, Te KuraHuia hit another huge milestone, with musician Tiki Taane remixing her song, BMW (Bad Mana Wahine).
Looking forward, Te KuraHuia says she has big plans to put her iwi on the map.
"I would love to perform more in Wellington and add to the mana of my iwi here, Ngāi Tara, the first Māori settlers of Te Whanganui a Tara. I want to start decolonising the music industry, and also make connections with other artists.
"I have another project on the go at the moment - I've been successful in my grant funding application for New Music Pasifika - NZ on Air. I have a bilingual track that's coming out, it's club music, and I'm also in preproduction for another visual EP (long form music video). I'm also currently in production for a short film in Oruawharo."
"Over the next decade I see myself touring the world with my music and acting as the first Māori female superhero in a Marvel movie. I want to be a well-known and awarded artist in Aotearoa and across international indigenous film festivals."
For those looking at studying music at UCOL, Te KuraHuia encourages people to give it a go.
"If it's what you love doing, then keep doing it! It's hard work in this industry and I've had to learn not to overdo it. I just keep saying I have to believe in myself. There's always tomorrow."
"Rārangahia tō kete mātauranga kia nui ake i te ao, i te pō." - Te KuraHuia
"Weave your knowledge basket bigger everyday."
Te KuraHuia completed both the New Zealand Certificate in Music Level 4 and the New Zealand Diploma in Creativity (Music) Level 5.
You can follow Te KuraHuia on social media:
- A shot from the music video for Te KuraHuia's song Uha.
- The cover for Te KuraHuia's BMW Remix single.