"Maisey's songs are expressions of a world view that is anchored in and of te ao Māori, and full of the principles and values that define her perspective as an artist; Whānau, Kaitiakitanga, Aroha, Rangatiratanga, Tukuihotanga to name but a few. She’s an outstanding artist, and a generous advocate" - 2021 Selection Panel
2021 Arts Foundation Laureate receiving the Jillian Friedlander Te Moana-nui-a-kiwa award
Maisey Rika is a contemporary Māori composer and singer. After growing up singing with her mother and aunties, Rika officially began her musical career at age 13. Her first recording, E Hine (1997) – a collection of Māori traditional songs recorded with her school choir, Hato Hohepa (St Joseph’s Māori Girls College) where she was lead soloist – went double platinum, also winning the Mana Reo, Best Māori Language Album at the 1998 New Zealand Music Awards where Rika was also nominated for Best Female Vocalist at just 15 years old.
Since then, Rika has produced five acclaimed original albums, all of which have all reached NZ’s Top 40 Album Chart and received numerous music awards. Her first of these was a self-titled E.P Maisey Rika (2008), then Tohu (2009), followed by Whitiora (2012), Tira (2016) and Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tāwhirimātea (2020), an album created during Aotearoa’s time in lockdown due to Covid-19. Her vision for the album was to create a new resource depicting the ancient and sacred stories of The 9 Stars of Matariki according to Māori. To complete the album, Rika called upon 10 of Aotearoa’s finest music producers to bring each waiata to life. Her waiata Hiwa-i-te-rangi is a Top 20 finalist for the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll Award alongside her waiata Waitī Waitā, which is a Top 5 finalist for the APRA Maioha Award. The awards take place in October 2021.
Widely regarded as a national treasure, Rika has toured extensively internationally and shared stages with Grammy Award winners such as India Arie, John Legend, Blind Boys of Alabama and George Kahumoku Jr. Closer to home, she has played with a whose-who of contemporary musicians, and has inspired many local artists such as Stan Walker, Teeks and Rob Ruha. Her soulful and elegant style traverses a musical palette of Te Reo, folk, acoustic, soul and easy listening, bringing her international stardom that is deeply grounded in Aotearoa.
Rika was born and raised in the Bay of Plenty Te Moana-a-Toi, where she currently lives with her whānau.
“She’s a very selfless person. She’s incredibly generous with her time, with her talent and with her aroha for people. It’s important to have people like Maisey supporting young artists coming through. She is most certainly an inspiration for Rangatahi.” – Dame Hinewehi Mohi