Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Watch: SWIDT preview brand new album with the release of BUNGA

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Alice Lolohea | Reporter/Director/Videographer

A Pacific family gathered in the kitchen for a meal. A table groaning under the weight of a spread that contains some familiar culprits – sliced bread, me’a kai, sapa sui. Soulful brass notes echo over this relaxed, idyllic scene until the first line of the track drops:

They call me a BUNGA.

Bunga, a word used with the intent to emotionally harm and demean Pacific people, spoken by both Pacific and non-Pacific people. It’s also the name of the latest musical offering from Onehunga rap group SWIDT, and it’s perhaps one of the most jarring and unsettling pieces from the group’s impressive repertoire.

Accompanied by a powerful short film directed by Anahera Parata, the video perfectly encapsulates the emotional and mental upheaval of BUNGA’s lyrics, delivered with great fervour by SWIDT rapper Spycc. In one particular scene, sports trophies litter a mantle piece in the background, a Tongan flag draped overhead and actor Chris Alosio wearing a ta’ovala as he raps Spycc’s lyrics:

Our only meetings are court proceedings
They only love us if it’s sports achievements
Siana, see a Bunga’s what they call that
Unless you scoring tries for the All Blacks then you Kiwi

Line after merciless line delivered with dizzying accuracy and candour. Spycc talks about the systems that fail people of colour, and the cycles of poverty, addiction and family violence we trap ourselves in. BUNGA quite literally ‘[hits] harder than a Mark Hunt left’.

Underpinning BUNGA is the visual story Parata masterfully weaves, a clear nod to the Dawn Raids of the 1970s and the Polynesian Panther movement (two stories largely missing from the NZ history curriculum). Perhaps best of all is the formidable performance delivered by Toi Whakaari graduate Alosio. He delivers Spycc’s words as his own, staring unwaveringly down the barrel of the camera and so onto the audience, challenging their prejudices and confronting his antagonisers face-to-face. Alosio’s portrayal of an assertive and resilient Brown boy is one not seen enough in mainstream media, and Spycc is compelled to remind the listener:

Women clutch purses, cross roads when they see me
And even if they see me then it’s usually on the TV
Police 10/7 see police been stressing or profilin’

With the upcoming release of their sophomore album, BUNGA is a promise of great things to come from the SWIDT crew. Check out the BUNGA music video here:

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