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July 24, 2006 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Musical Island Boys: Nga Toa O Te Ao

MONDAY THE 10th of July 2006 was a moment in history, the first time a barbershop quartet outside of America has won the International Collegiate Barbershop Competition. Last year, I interviewed these young tane pūrotu – musical geniuses. I could see they were going to go on to do great things. From National Secondary Schools Barbershop Quartet Winners to New Zealand Men’s, Pan Pacific International Champions, two-time International Collegiate Bronze Medal Winners. Artists on their self titled album Musical Island Boys and now…Gold Medal Winners and Barbershop Champions of the World! Tenei te tuku mihi kia koutou Jeff Hunkin, Lusa Washburn, Matt Gifford me William Hunkin

Gold Medal Winners – how does it feel?

It’s an absolutely amazing feeling to know that you’re the best at something you love doing. A huge feeling of satisfaction after trying for three years now!

Ka pai! He whakatutukitanga tino miharo tenei mo matou kia eke ki te taumata o te ao kaiwaiata.

Tell me, what was running through your mind the moment before they called your name?

“Surely not! No wait, maybe we didn’t make it! Uh-oh… Matt, let go of my leg!!… This is it boys!!!!” I was also thinking about what my family at home would be doing if we had won, as they were watching the webcast.

I te wā i hau mai te pūrongo ko tēhea o ngā rōpu e toa ana, i tino tai ātea mātou. Kāore e kore, he mea uaua tērā ki te noho ki nāa kaiwhakataetae e tatari tonu ana mō te pūrongo! Rongo ana mātou, ko tā mātou rōpu I toa, i riro ko te hitekiteki, te tarapeke hei rangatira mō mātou i runga i te harikoa! Koirā te whakatīnanatanga o ō mātou moemoea!

MIB has accomplished so much since last year when you went over, what has been your motivation?

I think coming 3rd for the second time in a row was kind of a wakeup call. It made us realize that in order for us to have a shot at winning the competition, we’d have to put in the hard yards! Just like anything you want to accomplish in life. The encouragement from the barbershop community around New Zealand also really drove us to work harder

Koinei te whakatutukitanga o nā parakatihi ia wiki, ia wiki. Ka hākinakina mātou i tēnei tūmomo waiata, ā, he maha ngā tau e mau ana tō mātou here kia mātou anō, a, i noho ai mātou hei hoa ki waenganui I a matou.

How important to the group is your cultural heritage?

It’s very important. We are all Pacific Islanders, so we all have relatively the same morals, principals etc. when it comes to being culturally sensitive and appreciative which makes it so easy to get along with each other. It’s also an honour to represent the Pacific Islands on the world music stage.

“Porineihanatanga, Maoritanga rānei, he taonga tuku iho tēnei ki a mātou mai i ngā mātua īipuna hei arahi i a mātou, hei taki ia mātou, e kitea ai tō mātou ahurei e muramura ana i mua tonu i te aroaro o te ao. He uri mātou nō ngā moutere katoa o te Moananuiā-Kiwa he kaipaihere i a mātou.

So as the champions, what are your responsibilities?

We have no clear-cut duties or things to be held accountable for, but I think one of our goals is to spread the word of Barbershop amongst the youth of not only New Zealand, but other parts of the world that don’t have as strong a program as the United States does.

Ko mātou ngā māngai mō te ‘Barbershop Harmony Society’, ā, ka tautoko tonu mātou i taua ropu whakahaere me ōnā tikanga kia whai hua.

What are the new doors that have opened for the MIB’s now you have brought home the gold?

We’ve been exposed to more people, and publicity has opened doors for us to travel more, sing at more functions, and become more widely known. We had an interview with Nick from MoreFM, and he’s invited us to be on Carols by Candlelight. So with things like that, we get to be involved in more music related events.

Kua tūwhera katoa ngā kuaha ki a mātou. Hei te Kohitātea, ka haere mātou ki New Mexico ki tētahi huinga o ngā kaiwaiata barbershop, ā, ka hoki anō mātou ki te whakataetae o te ao ki Denver, Colorado i te marama o Hōngongoi 2007, kia hoatu ai te taitara ki te rōpu toa, koirā te huarahi e whai ana mātou kia mau, kia ita.

So, I had a look at the questions I asked last year and your short term goals – you have achieved all of those! What’s next?

Up next on the Musical Island Boys agenda: we’re heading to

Perth, Australia in August to help promote the art of barbershop amongst youth there. In January, we’re heading back overseas to Albuquerque, New Mexico for another barbershop convention, then to Denver, Colorado next year in June to hand the trophy over to our successors in 2007. Between these events, we’d be performing at various musical events around New Zealand, and hopefully make a new CD.

Ka akona e mātou i ētahi waiata hou, ka whakapaipai anō hoki i ngā waiata kei roto i tō mātou kete waiata ka haere ai i ngā haerenga huri noa i te motu ki te tuari I te iere o tā mātou reo korihi.

Lastly, tell me, what do you think is the secret behind your success?

Hard work, dedication and a lot of time! There’s no doubt about it that if you don’t put the work in to something you want to achieve, then unless by some stroke of luck, you won’t reap the rewards you desire the most. It is very clichéd, but these things are so important. Getting help from overseas teachers also helped us immensely, as they are the experts in the craft. And our coach, Charlotte Murray, is a key ingredient to the success of the Musical Island Boys.

Mahi, mahi, mahi!!! waimarie mātou i whakaiwhiwhia ki nga hua me ngā pūkenga matua o ngā tohunga o te ao barbershop i Aotearoa, i raawahi hoki. Ngā mihi ki tā mātou kaitūruki, ko Charlotte Murray, mō tana tautoko i a mātou. Ngā mihi ki a koutou mō te wiki o tō tātou Reo Rangatira!


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  1. talita faletau says:

    hey matt and the rest of your boys CONGRATULATIONS!! for your big win hahaha i knew u you guys were going to win aye anyways just emailing to say hi and WHEN ARE YOU COMING BACK TO SAY GOODBYE? LOL… your proberly like what the hell who’s this but yeah its me talita a.k.a lita from U.H.C (upper hutt college) but its all right take your time just as long as you come back and say goodbye to us aye lol oh and i almost forgot bring our c.d’s we wanted and bring it signed ok… the boys miss you hard out aye i can tell they don’t like our new director she makes us sound flat aye like hard out man we all miss your voice and our new director never turns up to any of our practises aye i’m sick of her lol but yea i gotta bounce see you later k take care lots of love sweet fa… = )

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