Opetaia Foai

Cultural Specialist

Born in Samoa, and raised in New Zealand, Opetaia is the creator, composer, and lead singer of the contemporary Polynesian band Te Vaka. Over the last 20 plus years he has released nine albums of original music and is recognized as one of the South Pacific's most influential cultural and musical ambassadors. From the onset of his career he has been on a mission to tell the stories of his seafaring Polynesian ancestors and to share his beautiful culture with the world. Due to this aim and despite his versatile musicality, he chose early on to dedicate his music to the South Pacific and to write predominantly in his native tongues (Tokelauan, Tuvaluan, and Samoan).

He has toured with Te Vaka, which is comprised of talented musicians and dancers from across the South Pacific, to over 40 countries around the world. Now, with the release of the acclaimed Disney animation Moana, Te Vaka’s music is reaching a huge global audience. Opetaia shares co-writing credit with Lin-Manuel Miranda (creator of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton) and Grammy-winning film composer Mark Mancina for the Oscar-nominated Moana soundtrack. And he performs vocals on a key song, “We Know the Way,” which spent two weeks on the Billboard Top 100.

Opetaia currently resides in Sydney, Australia with his wife Julie and is the father of four. Julie is Te Vaka’s manager and a songwriter in her own right.  She’ll be accompanying him as a cultural specialist, contributing insight and sharing the adventure. 


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