Dilworth Old Boy taking Te Ao Māori to the world stage through music
Having only graduated from high school in 2017, Dilworth Old Boy Takerei Komene has already achieved things that most young performing artists could only dream of. He has worked with renowned Welsh composer, Paul Mealor and had his original piece of music performed live by the Auckland Youth Choir at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Australian International Music Festival.
Takerei’s musical journey started as a Year 6 student at Dilworth where he learnt to play the violin. This sparked his love for music and he has been involved in the performing arts ever since.
“There have been so many incredibly touching and profound moments in my journey. Perhaps one of the most emotional moments that showed me I was on the right path was in 2016, while representing Dilworth at the Big Sing Finale in Dunedin. One of the choirs, Choralation, sang a piece named ‘Stars’ by one of my favourite composers, Ēriks Ešenvalds. The sound that enveloped the audience really calmed any qualms in my heart about being a performer, and I knew at that moment that I would gladly spend my time working with others to create moments like those,” said Takerei.
Since completing his Dilworth education, Takerei has finished his third year of a Bachelor of Music, majoring in Classical Performance (Voice) at the University of Auckland. He has been under the guidance of Dr Te Oti Rakena. Alongside this, Takerei is an active performer, composer, arranger and conductor and sings with the Auckland Youth Choir, Holy Trinity Cathedral Choir, University of Auckland Chamber Choir, and New Zealand Youth Choir. He also works as an active composer, writing for both choirs and soloists, including singers who have premiered his works at their public recitals. Takerei also directs the Auckland University Student Choir - an all-comers ensemble open to any tertiary student in Auckland, and works at St Paul's College and Auckland Grammar School as a Choir Director and Itinerant Music Tutor.
Outside of his active music roles, Takerei also works as a Tuākana (mentor) for the School of Music, where he facilitates tutorials and other opportunities for music students of Māori and/or Pasifika descent. As well as this, he serves as the secretary of the School of Music Students' Association.
During his first year as part of the Auckland Youth Choir in 2018, Takerei was invited to take on the position of Conducting Intern. The Director at the time, Lachlan Craig, knew of Takerei from his work with Divinitus (the mixed choir between Diocesan and Dilworth) in 2017, and thought he would be a great person for the job. Many opportunities then stemmed from this experience, including the chance to work with renowned Welsh composer, Paul Mealor. As Conducting Intern, Takerei workshopped a section of his work, Symphony No. 1: Passiontide, with Auckland Youth Choir, and was able to showcase his own original compositions.
Eventually, Takerei would have the honour of not only writing a new piece of music especially for Auckland Youth Choir, titled Ngā Roimata o te Tūrama (Tears of Light), but also taking that piece to Sydney, Australia, to perform as part of the Australian International Music Festival.
“Words cannot possibly explain how humbled I was by that experience - to have the privilege of sharing my own music with the world on such a grand stage as the Sydney Opera House still feels to me like a dream.”
Takerei’s stylistic influences combine the rich and vibrant sounds of European composers such as Ēriks Ešenvalds, Veljo Tormis, and Paul Mealor, alongside the more locally iconic sounds of Patea Maori Club, Sir Howard Morrison, and Prince Tui Teka. A major part of his work involves the informed usage and incorporation of Te Ao Māori - our culture, history and tradition - into the contemporary music scene in New Zealand. He emphasises making a distinction between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation and believes any combination of the two must be conceived with the utmost respect and blessing. Creating resources in collaboration with first-hand sources like kaitiaki and active Māori musicians in the community for people around the country, and around the world, will be a major part of that journey for him in the future.
Having spent many years of his life at a boys’ school, Takerei believes that the performing arts are very important for young men and that having the freedom to explore creatively, is essential no matter the discipline.
“Being able to access the creative spark that lives within all of us and use it to augment our vision for the world, is so important for the optimal expression of ideas. Having the regular outlets that performing arts provides in that respect, only leads to much healthier and fulfilling lives”.
His advice for aspiring young performing artists is, “Sometimes, you'll only learn how to swim by jumping straight into the deep end. Take every opportunity you can get, and success or failure, it's all part of the journey. You will receive plenty of criticism, and alongside it, plenty of praise - take all of it in your stride, and live only for your truest and most fulfilled self.”
Takerei also acknowledges that performing artists aren’t immune from self-doubt and lack of confidence but it’s important to push through and keep going and understand that it’s okay to fail.
“You may have many doubts and worries, and feel apprehensive about how you may fail. This is only natural - this is being human. Whatever happens, know that there are so many people that want you to succeed, and that have your back always. Be proud of who you are and where you come from, but always be prepared to learn - not always conventionally. Stand tall, and know that life will spare you nothing - the future is yours, all you need to do is keep going”.
Takerei looks favourably upon his time at Dilworth saying, “To attempt to list all the ways in which Dilworth has prepared me for the future is to attempt to count the stars - Dilworth has provided me with so many tools for success, whether it be cultivating a work ethic, creating positive and meaningful relationships, or being true to oneself. Through Dilworth, I have learned to be self-sufficient AND a team player - we all have our own roles to play, but eventually we all contribute to one machine, and one voice. I have learned to be assertive, to listen, to plan, to be flexible, but most of all, to have compassion, and to love people not for what they do, but for who they are”.
Overall, Takerei feels he is leading a fulfilling life doing what he loves.
“Waking up each day knowing that I get to work in the area of my passion is a highlight in and of itself”.”
Takerei conducting Divinitus https://youtu.be/OlaboO2Njkc
NZSSC interview with Takerei https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZA984IpKA9I