Indigenous | Music

Award-winning reggae band returns home to Rātana

The Paki brothers and their band Come On Up have thrived since releasing their debut song in memory of their late father, Hone Paki,  during the Covid outbreak.

However, nothing could have prepared the Paki brothers — Gerrad, Joel, James, Benjy, plus Marcel Martin - for their performance in front of a home audience during this year's Rātana celebrations.

“It means everything to be honest. It’s my first time being up there. I’ve been in the reo, hung around the choir. I’ve literally been to every 25th hui there’s been, so to play up on the stage is a real big blessing,” Gerrad Paki says.

“It’s a bit of a privilege being part of a band with my brothers. After my dad’s passing, we all got together and did a tribute waiata for him and we all got the bug to carry on,” he says.

Thirty-seven-year-old Gerrad plays the keyboard and the saxophone while his older brother Joel is the lead singer of their band.

“Music is like second nature for us. It’s something that other people pay for to get among but we grew up in this sort of surroundings with our uncles and both my mum and dad’s side are either in the reo or the choir and play instruments. It’s a mean blessing and now we’re doing the same for our kids,” Joel Paki says.

“I don’t know how to explain the Rātana side of things. Haere mai, come out to the pā. The doors are open, out here all the time and there’s heaps of good music,” he says.

Last September Come on Up won the Best Roots Reggae Album by a Māori artist at the Waiata Māori Music Awards 2022.

The band's goals for this year are to get its new album released by the middle of the year, secure performances in some of Aotearoa’s big music festivals, along with releasing waiata Māori.

“Mainly for us, it’s just staying who we are and keep writing the music that we write and getting our album out,” says Joel.

He also has this message for the rangatahi: “Keep pumping, stay hard to your dreams and goals.”

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