ARO ( Pukekohe based )
Aro is made up of husband and wife Charles (Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Te Ata, Te Ati Awa) and Emily Looker (nee Rice). The bilingual duo share a passion for the power of language and music to tell stories and remind us of our cultural identity.
Their moving new EP, ‘He Wai’ was released in September 2021 and celebrated 5 waiata inspired and guided by our relationship to te taiao and what we can learn from it about ourselves and each other. ‘He Wai’, follows their first project 'Manu’ and their second, 'He Manu Anō', and is the third major project out of five for the Silver Scroll APRA Maioha Award and APRA Best Children’s Award Finalists.
After living in a van touring full time, writing music together for two years from 2017-2019, the couple now base themselves in Pukekohe and have a new baby girl called Olive - who arrived in Feb 2021.
Aro have been performing nationwide in Aotearoa since 2017 when they were established. The pair have completed three nationwide tours. The duo have also played at several festivals including Auckland Folk Festival, Wellington Gardens Magic, Festival One, Okura Forest Festival, Waitangi Day Festival (Paeroa), Kauri Karnival, Flava Urban Beats and Music in Parks and had been booked to play at Auckland Arts Festival, Taranaki Festival of Lights, Cuba Dupa, Kotahi Festival and a handful of local festivals in Auckland - but unfortunately due to covid none of these were able to go ahead. They have also been featured nationally on RNZ with Jesse Mulligan & Charlotte Ryans Music 101 Show, TV3’s The AM Show, TVNZ’s Breakfast, in Women’s Day, Stuff and many others. They have also been consistently broadcast on Māori Television, and have been featured on numerous radio stations across the country with interviews, live performances and radio airplay.
Our name Aro, which translates to mean focus/turn toward/give attention, comes from the desire to draw attention to what really matters - people, and so our waiata are composed the way they are with the narratives they have, and why we do the mahi that we do .
The duo were finalists for the Maioha Award at the Silver Scrolls (2019) and the APRA Best Children’s Song Award for their song Korimako (2020).
“The musicianship throughout – haunting and interlocking vocals, stick percussion,
evocations of taonga pūoro, touches of Latin rhythms – is clever and diverse”
– Graham Reid, Elsewhere - Manu album review
ARO Schools programme
In 2018, Aro developed an education programme delivering workshops, informed by mātauranga Māori of our natural environment in Aotearoa New Zealand, to schools and kura kaupapa Māori. They have taken this resource to communities around Aotearoa with their past projects, and will continue to build on this with ‘He Wai’. Feedback from the past workshops was immense and overwhelmingly positive, resulting in the 2020 & 2021 education programmes growing year on year . 2022 brings us down to Otago ,Southland for two weeks of schools, marae and public workshops and performances for Matariki and the Yellow Eye Te Urungi project.
Proposed programme workshop with show to follow ( 30 senior children for workshop )
Who we are
1-2 x songs
Students learn a reo Māori portion of one song, with the option to perform it with Aro in a show or at the end of the workshop.
Students are introduced to different native creatures and a snippet of their story/meaning. They’re asked to create an action as we make our way through for each creature. The agreed actions are tied to a song Aro has composed about the creature, and each time that song is played only that action can be performed. Students freeze when music stops.
|10 - 25mins|
Students in small groups watch/read a story about one of our native creatures then answer questions pertaining to what the story means to Māori.
Students can draw, compose lyrics/poems, make a poster, act, etc. to express/present their understandings.
Depending on time and the nature of the class this activity will be adapted to exploring 1 - 2 stories collectively as a whole class, facilitated by Aro
|Students asked to present their answers/findings/understandings|
|2 - 3mins||Closing mihi|
|Up to 45 minutes|
Students who learnt the reo Māori portion of the song in the workshop can perform that song with Aro during the performance.