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Kirsten Te Rito

Performer, Māori Composer, Composer


Ngāti Kahungunu, Rongomaiwahine

Kirsten Te Rito is a vocalist, songwriter and music producer from Ngāti Kahungunu and Rongomaiwahine iwi. She was born and raised in Wellington to a Māori father and Pākehā mother. As a child and during her teens she studied both music and dance with piano, guitar, saxophone, voice, jazz and tap lessons. She moved into musical theatre as a young adult, partaking in stage shows throughout New Zealand and performing in the Disney musical The Lion King in Melbourne and Shanghai. After returning home from working in China, Kirsten turned her focus to creating original music and collaborating with her husband, jazz pianist James Illingworth.

Since then, Kirsten has released two Māori language albums, TE RITO and Āiotanga and won many awards. In 2012 Kirsten won the Best Female Māori Artist award at the Waiata Māori Music Awards. Her song Oranga had the highest airplay of a Māori song for two years running. Her album TE RITO was a finalist at the 2013 NZ Music Awards in the Best Māori Album category. Āiotanga won Best Maori Pop Album at the Waiata Māori Music Awards 2016, where she also won Best Māori Urban Artist. Āiotanga was also a finalist for the 2016 NZ Music Awards for Best Māori Album and her song Tamaiti Ngaro was a finalist for the APRA Māioha Silver Scroll songwriting award.

Over the years Kirsten has worked with many bands, artists and ensembles including The Little Bushman and the NZSO, Wai, Rob Ruha and Australian hip hop band Bliss n Eso. Kirsten and her husband are the proud owners of a platinum record for their work on the album Circus in the Sky by Bliss n Eso with over 70,000 album sales. Kirsten also worked on their subsequent album Off The Grid. In between tours, Kirsten writes, records and produces new music in her home studio with her husband.

Listen to Kirsten on Spotify

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