Ngāti Tukorehe, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Porou
Keelan’s musical career started at Hato Paora College under the tutorage of Mr Morvan Simon. He would be Keelan’s biggest inspiration and supporter until his death. He taught Keelan how to teach notes for singing, how to write waiata in Te Reo Māori and how to work with big groups of people to get them to sing harmoniously.
Uncle Morvan made us work hard especially when we were building up to a big tour. He was amazing to watch create waiata or he would see us listen to a song and have a quick listen and then go away for lunch. After lunch he would say 'I have a new waiata' and it would be to that exact tune, and he would proceed to teach it to us.
The college produced a play in 1985 called PAORA. The whole college was involved most of the junior school were to be a part of the choir. Keelan was a 4th former (Year 10) at the time and there were a few in his year group that were really good singers, so they were put into roles for the play and made the Christians group. The play would be performed at the Palmerston North Town Hall and at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington. This would be Keelan’s first real performance in a well-known venue, on a big stage in front of a huge audience and he thrived in this environment. The following year those who made it into the Christians roles for the PAORA play also made it into the Senior A’s Kapa Haka Team for Hato Paora College.
In Keelan’s last year at Hato Paora. Uncle Morvan picked 3 people to be the trio for the Senior A’s kapa Haka Team, Keiran Simon, Johnathan Ruhi and Keelan Ransfield were chosen. Keelan would go on to be the Sacred Soloist for the school. That last year uncle Morvan wrote a piece in Māori to end the waiata which was ‘The Greatest Love of All’ (George Benson/Whitney Huston) which Keelan sang and recorded with the college, for the 45th anniversary of the college.
The piano teacher at Hato Paora at the time was Mrs Rosalyn Williamson. She also was an inspiration in Keelan in his last year at college. She took an interest in Keelan after he tried out to learn the piano. Mrs Williamson suggested that I go down another pathway playing the piano was not my strength and introduced me to the band scene in Feilding. She entered Keelan into a local talent quest at the Little Kiwi restaurant in Feilding and he came second to Mr Darby Tuhaka. The last kaupapa Keelan was involved in at college Mrs Williamson had entered the college trio into a talent quest in Palmerston North which they came second. They went under the name KJK (Keelan Johnathan & Keiran). The winner on the day was Joe Henry a amazing Guitarist.
The band Tauira and a lot of the waiata written for the roopu came from the Hui Rangatahi programme that Ngāti Raukawa, Te Atiawa and Ngāti Toarangatira were running for their rangatahi at the time. A couple of us younger cousins were inducted into the band after we finished college. Piki Kereama was the leader. Tauira had a huge presence on stage with a big sound.
Female vocals were, Maru Karatea-Goddard, Rangiwehia Rikihana, Sonja Snowden and Gaynor Rikihana.
The male vocals were, Piki Kereama, Sean Ogden, Liam Ogden, Tipi (Gary) Wehipeihana, Keelan Ransfield and Moses Ketu.
The band was: Keyboard Charles (Te Ahukaramu) Royal, Bass Peina Taituha, Drummers were Shane Blackmore, Karl Jensen, Guitarists Wayne Webster, Peter Gardiner & Tipi Wehipeihana and Percussionist Ray Roberts.
Tauira was well known for waiata like He Māori ahau, He aroha ki te iwi, He Iti nā Motai.
Maaka Phat (McGregor) inspired us to look at creating our own band which is how Iwi came to be. There we kaupapa gigs going on all around the country and Iwi was invited to play. Te Reo Maori and promoting positive messages to our people was the aim at the time for all of us. Iwi was nominated for a Tui Award at the 2000 New Zealand Music Awards and won. The other nominee on the night was Maisey Rika who had released her album 10 favorite Māori songs. She was still attending Hato Hohepa at the time.
Iwi released 3 albums over the years and were nominated again for a Maioha award with the release of the second album. The other nominee on the night was Maisey Rika and of course she won that evening.
As a member of 'Iwi', Keelan is proud to have contributed to Māori music and helped make Māori music normalised in mainstream. We hear Māori music all the time on mainstream radio and I love it. That was the dream we had to hear our reo in waiata form on any radio station you listen too. Big shout out to Māori TV and Māori radio who both have support the roopu iwi over the years. Thank you all!
Te Reo Māori, Reggae, 4m 19s
Te Reo Māori, RnB, 2m 51s