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The Shades

An upcoming quartet of beautiful Tongan and Samoan voices, fusing their classical training with genre’s such as Musical Theatre, Opera, Gospel and popular music. The Shades consist of two Samoans Samson Setu and Ipu Laga’aia and two Tongans Taka Vuni and Manase Latu, who together create a strong, well-blended sound with a feel for humour and a love of laughter. Born and raised in Auckland, each have come from humble pacific homes where music was in every facet of their upbringing. Though music and singing came very natural to them, they have had years of training to shape them into the artists they are today. Between the four, they have been awarded various scholarships, chosen for prestigious programs, such as Kiri programme, and have excelled in many competitions. The Shades are now in regular demand for private events such as weddings, funerals, birthdays and other special occasions. In 2016, the Shades sung the national anthems for Netball quad series which included South Africa, England, Jamaica, Australia and our very own Silver Ferns, which was televised worldwide. Similarly, during the Lions tour the Shades were asked to provide entertainment for a number of pre-game functions. They arranged a medley, songs from each of the English Isles, fused with a Maori Waita. A performance which bought Lions and All black fans together to celebrate their love for the sport. The Shades have been invited to sing in various concerts throughout New Zealand such as Tauranga, Wellington, and Black Barn in Havelock North. The Shades now look towards a new year of further study and training as a group and as soloists, to share their gifts and love for music.

Taka Vuni

Taka is a baritone who is currently on hold from his bachelor of music degree but maintains his passion for singing performing with the shades as well as conducting the St Peters and St Pauls college choirs. Whilst working full time in the trade industry and part time as an itinerant, Taka is still under the tutelage of Dr. Te oti Rakena. A lover of the arts, he aspires to one day sing on the infamous stages around the globe

Samson Setu

Samson Setu is a student at The University Of Auckland studying towards a bachelor of music, majoring in Classical Singing. He is currently under the tutelage of Dr. Te Oti Rakena. Samson is a proud Samoan, born and raised in South Auckland and a staunch Dilworth old boy. Music has always been a part of Samson’s life. Samson grew up in an A.O.G church where his grandfather was a pastor. He was surrounded by music in through church and through his culture. However, it wasn’t until Samson was 17 years old that he first encountered classical music. Claire Caldwell, musical director at Dilworth School, discovered his voice and invited him to join the choir. He had never sung any classical music before and it didn’t take long before the young bass familiarised himself with the foreign art form. Rugby was Samson’s first love and in his final year of school, singing began to overtake his dreams of playing professional rugby. An opportunity to sing for the New Zealand Secondary Students Choir reassured Samson’s aspirations of becoming a professional opera singer and the rugby dream began to fade. Part of Samson’s degree was completed in Dunedin, at the University of Otago. There, he began his classical singing journey with the wonderful Isabel Cunningham. She retired after a year into his degree. Nonetheless, he remained at the University to continue his singing endeavours with Frances Wilson. In 2015 Samson transferred to Auckland University to complete his degree. He is currently in the final stages of completing his degree in Auckland and plays rugby for Bombay. Being a member of the New Zealand Secondary Students Choir was one of Samson’s proudest moments as a young singer. In 2012 this group toured to South Africa and Samson was fortunate enough to be a cultural leader. In 2011 Samson was awarded the performer of the year at Dilworth School and was the head chorister. In 2010 Samson was part of an opera chorus for La Clemenza Di Tito. Other ensemble groups Samson is affiliated with are, 4 Shades and SOTO VOCE. Samson has taken part in numerous master classes run by Martin Snell and they have been key in Samson’s development as a singer. Most recently, Samson won first place at the annual Ronald Dellow competition which is hosted by Auckland’s, Clef Club. Not only was he the first place winner, he was also the recipient of the people’s choice award. A few months before this Samson won multiple classes at the annual South Auckland Performing Arts Competition(SAPAC) and the main prize to represent South Auckland at the National Finale(PACANZ). In October 2016 Samson represented South Auckland at National Finale(PACANZ). This was

Samson’s first taste at a big competition and he was fortunate enough to place 1st overall. Samson was a participant in the Lexus Song Quest masterclass with world renowned soprano, Yvonne Kenny. This was a great moment for Samson as he got to learn from one of the world’s best. In November of 2016 Samson entered the inaugural NZ Aria competition. This was a special moment for him as he reached the finals and got to stand on the stage with fellow Dilworth old boys, Joel Amosa and Filipe Manu. Manase Latu, another close friend of Samson’s, had also made the final. As a result of this competition Samson won a scholarship for the 2017 annual NZ Opera School in Wanganui. Dreams of playing professional rugby are still alive for Samson. His ultimate goal is to sing opera on the world’s biggest opera stages one day.

Ipu Laga’aia


Ipu Laga’aia is currently studying at the University of Auckland doing a Bachelor of Arts in music and teaching. His passion for music came to light at the young age of 3 years - singing in the church, but his path narrowed toward classical music in his final year at Sacred Heart College in 2013. He is currently exploring the world of opera, and within the last couple of years has been a part of a number of classical groups such as the Auckland Chamber Choir and SOTO VOCE. He hopes his talent will continue to expand vastly and is looking forward to the learning years to come.

Manase Latu

Manase is currently in his 4rd year of study at The University of Auckland, pursuing a Bachelor of Music (Honors) in Classical Voice performance with Dr. Te Oti Rakena. Growing up in church and being surrounded by his culture, music has always been a vital part in Manase’s life. Joining his high school choir in 2011 propelled him into classical music, where Manase began finding his voice.

To date, Manase has had quite a few successes over this short amount of time. In 2015, Manase was awarded the Iosefa Enari Memorial Scholarship presented by Creative NZ. This award is given to a person, of Pacific Island decent, who has succeeded in their field whilst giving back to the community. Competing in the New Zealand Aria competition since 2013, Manase has been awarded the Most Promising Competitor under 21 cup 3 times and has also won the overall Mike Steiner Interior Desing Junior Award. Similarly, he was selected as a finalist for the 2016 Aria finals, making him one of the youngest competitors to have ever made it through. Due to his success in the NZ aria competitions, the committee nominated Manase to compete in the PACANZ where he was awarded runner-up.

Whilst at a young age Manase, was fortunate enough to sing with some of the best choirs and ensemble New Zealand has to offer. He has been a member of Auckland Chamber Choir, New Zealand Youth Choir, SOTO VOCE, Age of Discovery and is an active member of Voices NZ Chamber choir, The Shades and the freemasons NZ Opera chorus. In 2016, Manase attended the Teapot Valley summer school to which he was awarded a scholarship to sing with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain as well as the Great Britain Chamber Choir, a selection of England’s top choristers. Manase has travelled with the NZ Youth choir to Europe and competed in the International Festival of Academic Choirs in Pardubice where they won all classes as well as the overall Grand Prix.

In previous years Manase has been invited to sing as soloist for various choral societies and private functions. Works such as Handel's Israel in Egypt, Messiah, Judas Maccabeus, Schubert's Mass in G, Haydn’s Creation, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Britten’s Saint Nicholas, Donizetti’s Requiem and various other oratorio works. He endeavours to widen his repertoire and move into the operatic realm. 

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