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Yoyo Tuki

Rapa Nui

Rapa Nui/Easter Island

“When you know your history, you know who you are. When you know who you are, you know where you are going”

“Me’e ta’e anga he ara, o te haka ara, me’e poreko mai te hui tupuna ana”

“The way is not something that you make, its in your lineage, born from a long line of ancient ancestry”

- Yoyo Tuki

Yoyo Tuki is a premier singer-songwriter, composer, guitar and ukelele player. Born into a culturally rich family, Yoyo developed a strong sense of identity. A deep respect for his land and traditions was nurtured by his upbringing, and in particular by the influence of his grandfather ‘Mana Roa’ (Great Wisdom). Yoyo is regarded as one of today’s leading Rapa Nui musicians, whose contributions have broken new ground and inspired a cultural revival. Yoyo’s captivating voice, eclectic guitar style and innovative world sound is unlike anything created before. He combines moods and flavours from traditional Rapa Nui to Reggae, Afro, Folk, Latin, New Age and more, with an impressive lineup of emotive ballads to upbeat dance tunes.

Maybe we should start from back in the Nov' 2014. We rushed to the back stage to talk to Yoyo right after his solo performance at AWME the Australasian World Music Expo in Melbourne. That's when we had just came up with the idea of starting Small Island Big Song project, and I still remember after talking to him, I thought 'that's it! this is what we should be doing'. That conversation kept us focus and believe in what we were planning to do. One month later, we left our jobs, and have been on this journey since. (Yoyo, you are our life changer!)

Finally, we visited Yoyo and his beautiful family a year and a half later, as one of the Small Island Big Song's first recording and filming sessions. The first day, Yoyo played a demo version of the song to us, an uplifting Jawaiian (Hawaiian mix with Jamaican) Reggae track, Ka Va'ai Mai Koe I Tou Rima Ena. He wrote this song, singing give me your hands, to unit people across different races and distance. That night, we played the demo again and again... and again, and woke up with the song stuck in our heads. We could hear all the other instruments adding on top of it!

Yoyo led us to his front yard, a huge grassy area with massive standing stones, that was our recording and filming spot, all in nature, at where he feels like back home in Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Towards the end of the filming, his two beautiful young kids couldn't wait any more to come to sing along side him. Suddenly, we decided that we are going to invite artists to dance on this song, with their families and friends, like a moment when everyone just couldn't help themselves any more and jump up from the audience seats to start dancing. 

I'd like to finish with some beautiful lyrics from Ka Va'ai Mai Koe I Tou Rima Ena, which I still really moved by every time I read it. 

Penei, e mo’a te henua he mahia o te atua

Mai runga e u’I atu nei mo arata’I mai I tou mana’u

Vananga tou arero, mai ta’e ngaro a po

E mo kia hio atu e ana rere koe ki te kona ke

Hai hanga no te ara tou koa e mo rava’a

Ina koe ko noho ina koe ko haka rehe

Ina koe ko ha’ati’a mo huri raua I tou mana’u


To respect the land, for its a gift from the creator

who looks after and watches us from above to guide our footsteps

speak your mother tongue as it might disappear tomorrow

and it will bring you strength when you find yourself in far away lands

love is the only way to find real happiness

don’t hesitate, don’t lose your faith

don’t let anyone to take that away from you

Hai hanga te mana’u ka haka tika ena

Mo haka riva riva mo haka riva riva ite ao nei e


If we were to join our thoughts in love

we would be able to make of the world a better place

Back in Apr' 2016 in Tyagarah, Australia...

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