Dalvanius, the Fijian Sevens team and the hit song made on a marae

This week I went to see Poi E: The Story of our Song … what an inspiring film! I learned an amazing lesson about self belief from this film … and from the Fijian Sevens rugby team, and the singer, Kings!

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The film tells the story behind the success of the classic NZ song Poi E,  written by Ngoi Pewhairangi and Dalvanius Prime.

Some people criticised Dalvanius for mixing a Maori song with modern beats and instruments, break dancing and space invader noises. They said he was disrespecting traditions and that elders would hate the song.

That didn’t stop Dalvanius.

He believed the song would make people proud of Maori culture and language, especially young people. He believed music was an effective way to reach youth and to teach them about Maori culture and values.

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Radio stations wouldn’t play the song because at the time they rarely played New Zealand songs, let alone one sung entirely in Maori.

That didn’t stop Dalvanius.

If radio stations wouldn’t play the song, he’d take it to the people himself!  He travelled around South Auckland and played it where the people were. One place was in gyms. He asked trainers to put the song on and see if people would love traing to it. They did!

People began to buy the song and soon it went to number one on the NZ music charts. It stayed at number one for four weeks. Not even Michael Jackson could top the popularity of Poi E in New Zealand.

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Dalvanius and the Patea Maori Club were even invited by Queen Elizabeth to do a Royal Command Performance in Scotland. Dalvanius asked various government departments for support to take the group to Scotland but they all turned him down.

That didn’t stop Dalvanius.

He mortgaged his own home so the group could go. And the people in Britain loved the song and the performance.

Poi E made a comeback in 2010 when it featured in the  film Boy. It reached No.3 on the NZ singles chart in May that year. Poi E is the only New Zealand song to make the hit charts over three decades.

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It’s so cool that Dalvanius had so much belief in his song, even when others didn’t and that he did all he could to see it fulfil all its potential. I think Dalvanius squeezed every bit of success he could out of it.

The Fiji Sevens rugby team are like that. They come from a small place, if by small we mean the size of the land mass.  There are fewer resources than other nations and less money. But they don’t focus on what they don’t have  … instead they focus on what they do have – a tradition of growing some of the greatest sevens rugby players in the world.

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Other nations picked their professional 15s players for Rio. New Zealand commentators wondered why All Blacks like Beauden Barrett and Ben Smith weren’t in the Kiwi team. Fiji don’t think that way.

“We’re picking the boys from the villages and we’re using that as a real strength,” said coach Ben Ryan. “If we’re going to win a gold medal medal, it’s going to be because of the heart and the ability and the local players from the villages doing their thing.”

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And though they come from a small nation, with fewer resources than other nations, their expectations and goals were not small at all. They expected to win. “No Fijian team will ever be happy with a silver medal,” said Fiji sevens legend Waisale Serevi.

Don’t Worry Bout It is the only Kiwi song in this week’s Official Top 40. The artist Kings, created the song in his own studio which is located in his marae, Awataha. “If you can encourage people to believe enough, things can happen,” he said in an interview on Marae. “That’s a big belief in our family.”

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Kings says he struggled with the decision to stay in a safe job, folding boxes at Target in Australia, or to follow music, his passion. I’m glad he had that belief in himself to trust his talent and to not be content with a “safe” life, but to get everything he can out of his talent. Kings says his goal now is to win 5 Grammy Awards, so that he can share his music and his culture with more people.

Dalvanius Prime, the Fiji Sevens team and Kings are such encouraging examples for all of us, especially for me: let’s trust ourselves, use our strengths to make our best work, and try to squeeze every bit of success we can out of our lives.

Have an awesome week everyone.

And if you get the chance … go see Poi E: The Story of our Song!

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