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  • Sam Mangakahia

How Did My Journey In Māori Art Begin?


This post is brief look into how my journey began. I had to find a way to learn about my culture despite growing up in Australia. Through persistence and determination I found myself being coached and mentored by some of the greatest Maori artists, like Rangi Kipa, Glenn skipper and Jared Pere.


This article was a joint effort with the amazing team at https://inspiringdesign-co.com/ . Tash who is apart of the team reached out to me on Instagram to see if she could ask a few questions about how Hāmiora began, what inspires me and where is it going.




“Everyone has a story and it deserves to be told. I believe that culture is the vehicle to tell that narrative in all it’s Beauty and detail. We have all experienced trials and hardship in life. Only when we share them, can we truly strengthen and inspire each other. Bringing someone’s story to life through art is MY way to connect the culture and inspire future generations to come. Each piece is unique and is designed to carry that mana and message to all those who see it” Before I even heard his words, his mahi was speaking to me. As if the patterns were pulling me to my ancestors, to the story of my whakapapa. I felt as if I was at home, amongst my whanau and my culture. Meet Samuel Mangakahia - the artist bringing his passion, and other's’ stories, to life through Hamiora Art.


Who is the artist behind the Ukulele?

My name is Samuel Mangakahia. Ko Ngati Huarere te Iwi, ko Tama te kapua te Kaihautu, ko motu terei te maunga, ko pungapunga te awa. I’m a Maori born and raised in Brisbane Australia and for the last 5 years I have been working and studying in Hawaii, Oahu. I exist to inspire connection, culture and innovation through Toi Maori / Pacifica, and I tell stories through designs and engravings on Ukulele and Guitar.





How did Hamiora Art begin?

His artistic and entrepreneurial journey began when he was 15. He took a liking to Ukulele and started to play. While living in Australia, he mentioned a lot of tamariki are seeking culture and identity, and being surrounded Tamoko growing up, it really resonated with him. He started to draw and sketch designs into Ukulele’s, and the rest, he says, is history. When he first started, his company was called Fresh Ukes in 2011, however he now goes by Hamiora. I love working with people and taking their story and turning it into something aesthetically beautiful and emotionally moving. I have sold #381 individual pieces to date. What was once a hobby, is now thriving business where I get to share my art all around the world.


Below is a photo taken in 2011. When I began carving guitars and ukuleles I gravitated towards Samoan designs. Honestly that's all I knew. Before I knew how to Haka I knew how to do the slap dance. Look back at my designs always makes me cringe. However, you have to start somewhere.





We asked what is his favourite part about being a creative?

I love using my hands to create what I see in my head. When I have an idea of what something could look like I can’t help but bring that out, into physical form. I love experimenting with new techniques and materials. It’s fascinating to me to see various materials and designs elements come together to create a beautiful composition. Toi Maori has played a big part in my life to help me to connect to my people, learn more about my culture and innovate and create something special for the future generations. What completes this process of creation for me is the story behind the piece. Every time I create something I’m always thinking “How can this tell my story” or “How can this serve as a reminder for the generations to come”. When I keep that purpose I find it can speak to people far beyond the piece itself.



Has covid effected your Art Business?

Covid has been a blessing in disguise. I have been able to spend more time creating and thinking about what my purpose is. The pandemic has also allowed me to reach out to famous musicians such as Kolohe Kai, Josh Tatofi and Kaulana Pakele, Stan Walker and Jack Johnson. This has helped me tremendously to reach a wider audience and even get featured on Maori TV and Maori world wide.


Five years from now, where do you want to be?

In five years from now my goal is to have 20 of my favourite artists carry one of my custom Hamiora guitars. I plan to have a studio here in Hawaii where I create and design most of my work. I also have another company called Shaka Tribe where I sell everyday items such as phone cases, Journals and other accessories with Polynesian print. hope to have at least 20 items on the site that can support my day to day living expenses.



shakatribeshop.com we have 10 journals left. Use the code SAM for 20% off


Do you have anything you want to share with our audience?

I have recently started a blog myself on my own website and would love for others to come and read mine as I share intimate details about business and my journey. I have giveaways sometimes so keep an eye out on my Instagram stories. It would be great to see more whanau from Aotearoa following and sharing my page. But MOST IMPORTANTLY , if you would like a custom piece, please contact me so we can discuss your story.




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