Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Soul and melodic rap group STNDRD, Johnathan Aoina (aka J), TeeRoy Leo (aka Leo) and Paul Aoina (Yannis) took some time out of their busy schedules to link back up with their old neighbourhood and give back to the community of Ōtara.
STNDRD share their humble beginnings growing up in Ōtara, mentioning how tight-knit the area is and how their families still reside there. Living to this day in their family home.
“Most of us grew up together. Every time we come home, that’s where we all like to get back to. Where we all grew up. All the memories come back.” Paul says.
“We obviously represent Ōtara in a lot of our music. We thought it was just right…coming back, we do what we can to kind of get in front of the community and you know, give back in any way we can, Jonathan says.
While some of the crew now reside in Australia, these staunch South Side boys recognise their culture, family and hometown roots as the driving force in their music and will always make an effort to visit their home of Ōtara.
“We grew up on the good side of Ōtara. Myself and Johnathon we grew up on the Sandbrook area and TeeRoy grew up just off Hamill Road. so not far,” adds Paul
Reminiscing upon their musical influences and cultural background. Jonathan explains that his love of music runs in the family.
“My grandpa, (mum’s dad), was the band leader for his village of Moata’a. And he led the brass band for Samoa’s Inaugural Independence Day. And he was a music Teacher.
“…devotionals like we would always be assigned to sing, so we were always singing at church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). So it was a good kinda practice. To give us the confidence to do what we’re doing now.” says Johnathon.
TeeRoy recalls memories of his Nana at the Ōtara flea market and trying to avoid being grounded from when his dad would catch him away from where he was meant to be.
The Aoina brothers recalled an incident when they were once caught up in a dangerous situation. And while it was a serious incident at the time, the boys have since seen the funny side of it.
“We were only running for two minutes…running along Sambrook and then we kinda went down this alleyway. Like you know. Should’ve’ known better. You don’t run down alleyways. But anyways we went down this little creek and these guys were there and we were running past and they kinda ran along with us.
“And suddenly there were three or four guys around us.” Paul adds. “And then one of them just threw a high kick.” Jonathan says, breaking into laughter.
As far as giving back to their local community, STNDRD have donated time and effort to put together events all in effort to pay back to their beloved homeroots.
STNDRD shared messages of inspiration and motivation with pupils on a recent visit to Flat Bush Primary and Tangaroa College, with an added live performance. They even held a community event at Te Puke Ōtara hall.