Tihei wearing a white t shirt sitting in a car mechanic garage
December 2022

Freestyling through COVID-19

Professional musician takiwātanga Tihei Harawira’s hip hop and freestyle music has helped him get through COVID-19 and stay connected to whānau, friends and fans.

Normally a regular performer at the Otara night markets where he has a huge fan base, Tihei has ramped up the use of his YouTube channel and Facebook Live during COVID-19.

Tihei has used his platform over the last two years to talk about what’s been top of mind for whānau through songs about hard times, messages of peace and love, and a mihi to essential workers. His lyrics also share insights into autism.

“The thought of the mind comes with the question: it’s how you live, it’s how you start blessin’. This suggestion that we go through every day – is it the mental health or is it the wairua round the way?” he freestyles.

Tihei explains, “just because I have autism it just makes me just like hungry just as much as he or she is hungry.”

“The toughest challenge in my life during COVID-19 was the barriers of restriction. The decision-making, the division. Families that once were close stopped being tight. Friends that used to be like your brother or your sister stopped coming over.

“Sometimes during lockdown I would do live feeds and people would just tautoko or give a koha or whatever and I’m appreciative.

“I love my fans and I’ll say this, I want to say this straight up: that’s what got me through COVID. Using that mentality of how to adapt your mind, your thinking. If you’re not going to use your tools then you’re gonna go through a challenge where nothing looks good for you. During COVID I just saw it as a life experience that everyone has to understand because life is not easy, especially during the times that we faced.”

Watch the video of Tihei.

Connecting through music during COVID-19

Check out Tihei’s YouTube channel.


Read about a Trust’s efforts to uplift takiwātanga.

Uplifting taonga takiwātanga during COVID-19