Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television

since 1987

Meet Melbourne singing sensation Fatai

Fatai Veamatahau
From YouTube sensation and Voice Australia competitor, to becoming an independent artist with several successful international shows under her belt, Tongan songstress Fatai is living up to her 2019 single ‘Road Less Travelled’ and becoming the artist she always wanted to be. We caught up with the singer/songwriter before her upcoming gig this Friday at The Tuning Fork in Auckland. 

It’s been a little while since you’ve been back on Aotearoa’s shores – what’s the first thing you’re looking forward to doing once you land?
I can’t wait to eat either fish and chips or a meat pie from a local bakery! Nowhere does it quite like NZ. Not even Australia!

You’ve got a connection to NZ through your parents; it’s where they first met. Tell us a little bit about that story.
It’s a true ‘love at first sight’ story. Dad saw Mum at church and fell in love immediately. He wrote and snuck a letter to her asking her to marry him. She got back to him the next day and said, yes! Together, they picked up everything and left to Australia to provide a life for what would become their future, my siblings and I.

I think Pacific parents usually get a bad rep for not supporting their children with artistic endeavours and maintaining that the arts aren’t a viable way to make a living. But it looks as if your parents have been supportive of your career from the beginning – has that always been the case?
I haven’t always made it easy for my parents to support me. But their unconditional love has remained constant throughout this whole journey even up until now. Has it been perfect? No! But we are learning every day how important family is, and the people you surround yourself with makes all the difference on a path like this. They are my rock!

A lot of islanders are proud to see a Pacific girl on an international stage sharing her talents and stories with the world. As an artist with Tongan heritage, what cultural values or experiences have shaped or influenced your singing career?
For the most part, it’s my Tongan upbringing, family and heritage that has taught me humility throughout this journey. No matter where I’ve been,  no matter what stage I’ve sung on or who I’ve sung with, the words of my parents, “God first, family second, stay humble and love everyone”, will forever echo in my life as a constant reminder to never compromise who I am for anyone or anything! To be confident in who I am and that be enough.

Do you have a favourite Pacific song to sing or listen to?
My dad used to conduct the church choir which was mostly made of my family! Every song they sung, especially in Tongan is my favourite music in general!

You’ve done some amazing collaborations – are there any Kiwi or Pacific artists you’d love to collaborate with?
Everyone and anyone! The more opportunities I can create together with my islander brothers and sisters to celebrate our culture and push each other forward, I’ll take it! There’s plenty of room for everyone.

This year you released Road Less Travelled which is also the name of this up-and-coming tour. Would you say this title encompasses the path you’ve travelled as an artist? What challenges did that bring and how rewarding has it been for you?
This is my life’s story. It’s a lonely road. One that takes a little longer, proves a little harder, walks a little narrower! It’s the price you pay to keep your integrity above all else. I’ve always felt like a black sheep. Mostly in a good and rewarding way! It’s just the way God has made me to go against the grain, not follow the crowd and walk out a unique path. But the challenge is sacrificing your own desires for the greater Good! And that in turn leads to an unexpected and adventurous path.

You’ve travelled the world and immersed yourself in different musical communities. What can we expect to hear from the Road Less Travelled tour?
Expect to hear 24-year-old Fatai. Everything she’s experienced, learnt, battled with, fought for, dreaming for, believing for, and standing for!

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