Bilingual duo Aro, are taking their music on the road this spring to celebrate and share the stories of our waters, in support of their latest project, & EP release ‘He Wai’. The tour intentionally coincides with Māhuru Māori and Te Wiki o te Reo Māori which celebrates the Māori language. Aro are performing across the whenua, throughout September & October, visiting coastal communities, big & small, and other intimate venues near bodies of water as part of their ‘He Wai’ National release tour.

During the spring tour, Aro will also continue on with their established education programme within schools around the country, proudly supported by the NZ Music Commission.

‘He Wai’ is the third major project out of five for Silver Scroll APRA Maioha Award and APRA Best Children’s Award Finalists – Aro. Each project has featured a new music release (an album or EP) and these new waiata are then used as a part of the education resources & programme created for schools & Kura Kaupapa Māori.

Husband and wife duo, Charles (Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Te Ata, Ngāti Mutunga) and Emily Looker, proudly share a passion for the power of language and music to tell stories and remind us of our cultural identity. The moving new EP, ‘He Wai’ celebrates 5 waiata inspired and guided by our relationship to te taiao and what we can learn from it about ourselves and each other. ‘He Wai’, is the bands 3rd project, following 'Manu’ and 'He Manu Anō'.

The bands latest EP release features Aro’s signature playful and uplifting sound, using a plethora of instruments and taonga pūoro, including guitars, strings and saxophone. A multi-genre offering of storytelling pop, RnB, electronic and jazz, fusing vocals, tāonga puoro and chants, each song also thematically explores the ideas of kaitiakitanga and manaakitanga - looking after ourselves, looking after each other and looking after our environment.

Aro have been performing nationwide in Aotearoa since 2017 when they were established after meeting while both studying Music at Auckland University. The pair have completed three nationwide tours, and played to thousands at numerous festivals including Auckland Arts Festival, Wellington Gardens Magic, Auckland Folk Festival, Festival One, Okura Forest Festival, Waitangi Day Festival (Paeroa), Kauri Karnival, Flava Urban Beats and Music in Parks with several more lined up for 2021-2022. They have also been featured on RNZ, have been consistently broadcast on Māori Television, and have been featured on and performed on radio & TV stations across the country. Consistently growing their audience over the past few years, the pair have reached 200,000 streams over their waiata on Spotify, and have released several music videos which have been broadcast nationwide.

As the band have a strong focus on tamariki and encouraging young people to be proud of who they are and their unique identities, In 2018, Aro developed an education programme delivering workshops, informed by mātauranga Māori of our natural environment in Aotearoa New Zealand, to schools and kura kaupapa Māori. They have taken this resource to communities around Aotearoa with their past projects, and will continue to build on this with ‘He Wai’, visiting coastal communities in particular in 2021. Feedback from the past workshops was immense and overwhelmingly positive, resulting in the 2020 & 2021 education programmes growing year on year and taking place with the support of Creative NZ in 2020 and the NZ Music Commission 2021. Aro aim to keep building on this success, and to increase the number of schools & kura kaupapa Māori visited in 2022 threefold.

In 2021, Aro will be using the stories of He Wai, of Aotearoa’s native sea/water creatures and the importance of caring for our environment, while making te reo Māori and whakataukī accessible and interesting for young people.

Tēnā koutou katoa!!

We are so happy to share with you our newest EP, out TODAY, 'He Manu Anō', which basically means "and some more Manu"; an extension of our 2019 debut album 'Manu'. The EP is FREE for you to download and enjoy right here. This EP is fully written in Te Reo Māori, with  lyrics and translations up on our website.

"He Manu Anō consists of five songs which display Aro’s signature playful and uplifting sound, using a plethora of instruments and taonga pūoro, including guitars, saxophone, shakers, hand drums and tambourine. A multi-genre offering of storytelling pop, R&B and jazz, fusing vocals, whistles, clapping, and chants, with bird song and calls, each song also thematically explores the ideas of being vigilant and brave, looking out for each other, and getting through things with love, a sentiment which rings true, now more than ever."

This EP has been fully recorded from our whare, and was funded by Creative NZ, who have also supported us in the making of a new education resource to pair with the music, which we're sharing through September as a virtual schools tour! We're so, so, SO thankful for the backing of CNZ for this project (in the form of an Arts Continuity Grant), and are so excited to now be sharing it with you. We also want to acknowledge Tainui and the wonderful crew at Te Pou Theatre, who encouraged, believed in, and supported us with the proposal for this project.

Special thanks to those who were involved in this project with us, Beka Hope who has created our new website (it's meannn, go check it!!!) as well as the presentation of the education resource. Manu Berry who created all of the incredible wood-cut screen print bird images to pair with each song - you can see them HERE, above each of the lyrics and translations for each waiata, we'll also have physical copies coming on tour with us! Vivek Gabriel who mixed and mastered this project, thanks for going above and beyond as usual our bruv, we always love working with you, and finally, to Elephant Publicity who have been doing a stellar job getting our new waiata out there - for all the radio interviews and TV broadcasts. PS we're on RNZ tonight at 8.05pm!

Though our Auckland show was cancelled due to Covid19, the remaining shows are still going ahead at this stage and tickets can be found here:

We're also going live TONIGHT on facebook, 7.30pm for a listening party and kōrero around the songs and how they came to be, join us!


Aroha nui whānau,

Emily & Charles

aka, Aro

What an interesting time it’s been!

Lockdown for us was a house full of animals, a thoughtful arrival of the new season and a time to write.

Our 20 show tour through April with Arts on Tour NZ was cancelled a couple of weeks before we were to take off, living the van life again and gigging from Kaeo to Stewart Island with our friend Caitlin Smith. Though it was a shame, it was what was needed and had to happen. We decided instead, to get a kitten, as the lockdown levels were increasing… and what better a time to introduce a little ngeru to our little kurī!!

We had Emily’s sister Sophie move into our whare for the time too, and our home became a blur of feijoas, movies, fresh baked bread, popcorn, digging up the lawn and planting it, training our dog to be a good big sister, and writing songs. Looking back on the lockdown period, we feel thankful. To have time to slow down, be at home and enjoy the simple things. We feel especially lucky that it happened now rather than say last year, when we were living in our van Jamba.

The tour became a virtual tour, plus some Aro in your Bubble and writing new songs became a daily project. Emily set herself a mission of writing a song a day through April, and did so!

Connecting with people through a screen is so much different to connecting with people in the same space. We found the online tour was incomparable to an actual tour, but it was nice to have a way to share our music and stay connected through this weird time.

We are now mid project ‘He Manu Anō’ (some more manu), which is the follow up EP to our 2019 release of our debut album ‘Manu’. The EP consists of songs of the most requested birds that did not appear on our first album, and will be entirely in te reo Māori. We feel incredibly supported by Creative NZ who are backing us for a second time, this time to write, record, produce and release this new EP, paired with a virtual schools tour and educational resource. It’s all happening, and we’re excited to have new songs almost ready to share with you. We have a mini tour of 4 shows happening after our official release on August 27th, from August 29th to September 26th and cannot wait to be with you again, kanohi ki te kanohi.