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Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti

7 mins ago

IDEAschool student SIIAM (Ngāti Kahungunu) is an all-round musical force but his journey to success came with some big challenges.

The Emerging Artist – Māori Music Award winner left school at 16 and moved to Wellington to “experience life”. That’s where his music journey started. “I soaked up the energy, art and culture and just loved the whirlwind of creativity there. I felt like I was part of a buzzing community.”

While battling mental health issues, poetry and music, in particular RnB and Soul, started to become his outlet. “I grew up with waiata and music. Music got drummed into me but I didn’t really feed from it. I used to play the guitar but I actually didn’t know that I could sing until I was 18.”

SIIAM enrolled in a Certificate in Music at Whitireia Polytechnic (Wellington) which gave him the confidence to perform on stage. But when he returned to Hawke’s Bay to support his family his priorities changed. “The passion for music was still there but I had to work and put my music journey on hold.”

Life has certainly thrown SIIAM some curveballs but over the last three years his passion for music has bloomed. Enrolling in a Diploma in Music at

 EIT was the best decision ever, he says. “EIT has nourished my talent and taught me so much. I’ve learned to play the piano, to produce and to promote myself.”

This year SIIAM is completing his Bachelor of Creative Practice. When he looks back to his first steps in the industry he smiles, “I was very much focused on becoming a star but this changed completely. The first degree year was all about figuring out who I was and wanted to be, followed by a year of learning about different career avenues and building connections. Now, in my last year, I’m bringing my new skills and knowledge together and next year’s Honours programme will seal everything.”

SIIAM says that EIT and the insights from the tutors helped him shape his musical identity and gave him the tools and support he needed to accomplish his best. Which led him to winning the Emerging Artist award at the 13th Waiata Māori Music Awards for 2020.

According to SIIAM the Hawke’s Bay’s music landscape is changing with more creatives coming through and more venues opening their doors. “The community is growing although I’m not saying that we couldn’t do with a little bit more night life.”

SIIAM’s vision has become clearer and clearer. “My song writing has evolved. I want to make music that can touch people’s souls if I can make at least one person feel some kind of way with my music being happy or sad then I feel accomplished.”

SIIAM will perform at this year’s IDEAschool Arts Festival on November 27 at EIT. His single release “Now You Know” is available on all streaming platforms.