News from home / National Nati news / Arts & Entertainment
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30 Jun 2016

Ngati Porou songbird Hamo Dell has hit the high notes of success as lead female singer for Aotearoa reggae band, "Tomorrow People."

The group's new album 'Bass and Bassinetes' is a top seller in New Zealand and looks set to be an award winner along with their 2011 debut album 'One'. 

Hamo says huge amounts of time and effort went into the recently released album's creation and many sacrifices were made to get the job done.

“Everyone involved, gave it their all, to make this album. We are thankful and feel very blessed our music is being so well received and people are enjoying the summer jams we've made.”

The group is touring nationwide and have already performed more than 30 gigs since their album's release in November.

Hamo says life on the road can be a “tough slog” but a lot of fun too with “inspirational and brilliant” band members Avina Kelekolio, Tana Tupai, Kenape Saupese, Hennie Tui, Marcus Abraham and Daniel Sugrue.

“I am very fortunate to be a part of this amazing journey,” she says.

“I've been able to experience things I have always dreamed of . . . performing at festivals, producing video clips, releasing a single, being a part of an amazing album and that's not even scraping the surface.”

Hamo says talent alone isn't enough to succeed in the music industry.

“You need to be highly motivated as well as creative. A prayer and a pinch of good luck can go a long way too.”

Confidence and charisma are also important, says the 23-year-old who delivers a smoking hot performance, live on stage and in her new music video Get It Back.

The popular on-line video clip is receiving plenty of attention and hitting A rotation on mainstream radio. International interest has been growing in Australia and Hawaii.

“I hope my song speaks to those facing hardships 'about knowing your worth' and realising when 'enough is enough' and if you leave a negative relationship, eventually things will be okay,” she says.

“I think the beauty of music is that people can find their own truth in songs and use their own experiences to relate to it.”

Singing live to large crowds, especially at music festivals like Gisborne's East Coast Vibes and One Love in Tauranga earlier this year, was an “incredible buzz”, says Hamo. 

“There's an energy which I draw from the crowd that helps to fuel the performance.

“There is nothing better than the feeling you get when people are connecting with you through your music.”

Hamo isn't the only famous entertainer in the whanau.

Her maternal grandmother Merekaraka Saani Ngarimu (nee Haua) from Whareponga is a Ngati Porou legend.

Mrs Ngarimu received the Sir Kingi Ihaka award for her lifetime contribution to Maori performing arts and was awarded a Queen's Service Medal in 1984.

As a young woman she was trained by Sir Apirana Ngata to lead the iconic Ngati Porou haka Ruaumoko at Wanganui in 1945, to kick off fundraising for the Ngarimu Scholarship.

She reprised the role for the Queen's royal visit in 1953 and remains the only woman to have led Ruaumoko.

Hamo's favourite memory of her nan is cooking fried bread at Whareponga with all the mokopuna.

“Nan would get all her moko to help make paraoa parai (fried bread). There was always laughter and good times in her kitchen.”

Hamo was raised in Invercargill but calls Whareponga - where her nan and mum Hinetu Dell (nee Ngarimu) are from - “home”.

Hinetu says Hamo and Mrs Ngarimu share the same “tenacity”.

“They both have the same drive and focus to see something done and properly from the start to finish.

“They are natural born leaders and entertainers,” she says.

Hinetu and Hamo's father Kevin fostered their youngest child's love for singing through brass band and kapa haka. Hamo has seven siblings.

“My parents were heavily involved with both performing mediums when I was growing up and would take me to all their practices. I would follow them around and copy what they were doing, whether it was conducting the band or learning the kapa haka brackets. 

The Te Aitanga a Mate, Te Aowera and Te Whanau a Rakairoa descendant says 2015 was a great year for achieving personal milestones and enjoying new experiences.

She graduated from the Southern Institute of Technology with a bachelor of contemporary music degree, travelled with a kapa haka group to China alongside the New Zealand Brass Band and joined Tomorrow People after a successful audition secured her spot as the group's first female member.

“I am learning new things everyday about music, the industry and myself. I am keen to grow even more as an artist and can't wait to see what other exciting adventures tomorrow and Tomorrow People brings.”

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