Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Singer-songwriter uses music to find peace and inspire others with disabilities

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Anauli Karima Fai'ai | Reporter/Director

Music has not only been a hobby for Samoan singer-songwriter Maretta Brown, it has also been a lifeline.

The 19-year-old Samoan Fijian has low vision due to a rare genetic disorder called Wolfram Syndrome which affects one in 500,000 people worldwide.

Maretta struggles to see details of people’s faces, so she relies heavily on her memory to differentiate people by voices, shapes and sizes.

She says that low vision made schooling difficult, and she found it difficult to ask others for help.

“I was a quiet kid, very shy and not the one to speak about any of my problems or issues, particularly with my vision,” she says.

Instead, she used music as an outlet to write about her experiences.

“It was so important for me to turn to music as a way to just find peace,” she says.

“For me, that’s really what it’s all about. I find a sense of calmness, peace, whenever I’m writing, and it’s also a way to express things that I’ve been through, and my story.”

Three years ago, she found support through Blind Low Vision NZ, which helped her with daily living skills, advocacy and employment.

“[They helped] me to find acceptance with my vision and really use that as a strength to do what I love, keep pursuing it and embracing it.”

Samoan siblings Maretta Brown, 19, and Psalms Vaotuua, 14, from Mangere, South Auckland have been selected to represent NZ at the 26th Annual World Championships of Performing Arts 2023.

Next month, she’ll spread that message of support internationally when she represents New Zealand at the Performing Arts World Champs in the US.

She will be part of a 40-strong team, including her little brother Psalms Vaotuua. Both are currently hoping to fundraise $15,000 to get to the championships.

“It’s a wonderful platform to inspire those who have to live with a disability and those who are low vision or blind,” Maretta says.

“If there’s one thing that I learnt – to not give up on things that you love, there have been many people in my life who have helped me and played major roles in my life and helped me, and so I’m very thankful for that.”

But for now, she’s serving her community here as an ambassador for the Great Kiwi Bookathon, encouraging Kiwis to read throughout June to raise money for Blind Low Vision NZ.

“So that we can help those future generations of young people who are living with blindness or who are low vision, deaf-blind as well,” she says.

“It’s just a matter of being courageous to seek that help, to acknowledge and accept it and what’s beautiful is that we’re in it together, and we can help each other, support and really uplift.”

If you would like to help Maretta get to the World Championships of Performing Arts, you can donate here.



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