Pacific ‘Sounds of the Moana’ podcast scoops international Gold award

The Sounds of the Pacific podcast is making waves on the global stage, picking up the highest-category award at the New York Festivals Radio Awards.

“We wanted to tell, before the papălagi (non-Pacific peoples), before the beachcombers, what were our sounds like?” says Podcast host and co-producer Tau’ili’ili Alpha Maiava. 

“Because remember the word ‘music’, it was a categorisation by papălagi of our sounds. They heard it and were like ‘Oh, that’s happy music’, but we didn’t have music, we had sounds.”

The two-episode series explores the indigenous sound of Oceania, and features the conch shell, the wooden slit drum (pātē), and the nose flute (fangufangu/vivo ko’e).

The podcast was up against entries from thirty other global broadcasters such as NBC News, Mediacorp and CBS News Radio. 

“When we were told we got shortlisted, I looked at the list of everyone we were up against, BBC, Lord of the Rings actors, Hollywood stars, and thought ‘We’re just gonna make the numbers”, so it’s wonderful to get recognised at an event which is the largest of its kind.”

Tau’ili’ili says the award was unexpected, but is a tribute to everyone who took part. 

“It was a good reminder that when we think we’re that small, we realise that the entire world thinks our stories are great. Especially because this is not my story, this is the stories of those who came before us.”

SOUNZ Chief executive Diana Marsh says it took a village from start to finish. 

“We worked in partnership with the music elders, practitioners and knowledge holders to shed light on the indigenous musics of Moana-Nui-ā-Kiwa in a series that was designed to be engaging and accessible.”

Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni says the award is a big win for our Pacific whānau.

“I’m proud that the stories of Moana-Nui-ā-Kiwa and its vibrant history of indigenous sounds have been recognised internationally for its unique beauty. This is an exceptional feat.”


 Photo / Steve Adams on Unsplash  caption; The origins of the conch shell sound are explored in Episode 2 of Sounds of the Moana.