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The Kerepēhi Primary School students who make up the band Ngā Raiona. Absent is guitarist Kaiya Tai. Photo: Kelley Tantau

School band goes from stage to Spotify

The song of the summer has just been released and its creators hail from none other than the Hauraki Plains.
Kerepēhi Primary School students Jahvarn Kaneri-Taylor, Paoa Castle-Toto, Tua Taipari-Thorne, Faith Anderson, Lyfe Kaneri-Taylor, Ali-May Llewell, and Kaiya Tai are known around the tight-knit community as the band members of Ngā Raiona, and not only have they recently enraptured audiences at the Waikato Band Quest, but they’ve now released their first original song.
Called ‘Cuzzies’, the song epitomises the quintessential Kiwi summer, with singers Faith and Jahvarn vocalising about spending time with whanau and tightening bonds.
The students – who range in age from 10 to 13 – all agree that it’s an “uplifting” track, and music teacher Stu Green couldn’t be prouder.
“For a group of people who have only been playing for a couple of years, the quality of the instruments sound great, and both vocalists sound a lot older than they are. There’s an awesome bass line, awesome drumming… They started learning their instruments at the start of last year, and 18 months later, they’re able to perform at such a high standard.”
Matua Stu has led the school’s new music programme since 2022, and while the band members still practise out of a reading resource room, creating interest and driving talents at the kura has been a real focus.
The school recently raised around $3000 from a November quiz night to purchase new instruments.
And with other young pupils now keen to pick up a guitar or play the keys, Matua Stu and Matua Damien Anderson said Ngā Raiona – meaning The Lion in Māori – were good role models and an “inspiration”.
‘Cuzzies’ was recorded over three sessions at Rountree Studio in Mangatarata, and features Faith and Jahvarn on vocals, Paoa on bass, Tua on drums, Lyfe playing the keys, and Ali-May and Kaiya on guitar.
The song is now live on Spotify, and the students said there was a mixture of nerves and excitement knowing their original music was now available for everyone to hear.
DETAILS: To listen to the track, search for Rountree Studios on Spotify.