Kia Ora koutou katoa, hi everyone, and welcome to my online information centre and shop
I’m Jaqualyn Taimana Williams (aka Jaqi). I’m basically a maker of people and songs – a Mum, teacher and songwriter of adult rock fusion and Māori-English bilingual children’s music.
I’m a qualified, registered New Zealand Primary and ECE teacher, registered songwriter at Apra/Amcos, member of Kiwi Kids Music Collective, mother of Alex, Shannon, Hollie, Lillith (twins) and kuia of one, Luca.
“My DNA is predominantly Celtic/Māori/Scandinavian with a touch of Chinese but I was raised by English and Australian adoptive parents. It’s a part of who I am as an artist – the sense of myself as being so culturally diverse as an individual in both nature and nurture that I’m free of the constraints of stereotyping. I love being multicultural – it’s kind of true what I say in my track Diversity – I am the world, the universe.”
Clocking up thirty years of live performance including TV, radio and a tour of Germany in 1998 gives Jaqi a very strong base as an artist. Her music career began in 1987 at the Christchurch Arts Centre with a band of University students. “We were called The Statics, so when we broke up we happily became the ex-Statics.”
Qualifying as a New Zealand Primary School teacher in 1999 and an Early Childhood teacher in 2014, Jaqi has worked full time as a kaiako in a range of early childhood centres from Christchurch, to Invercargill and Bluff to Auckland. She currently works in a Waikato-based bilingual Māori early childhood centre and felt drawn to this region through newly discovered iwi connections to Ngati Apakura and Ngati Ranginui.
“Working in bilingual early childhood education has been transformative for me because I was adopted out as a baby in a non-Māori system to a non-Māori family. I knew nothing about my heritage until I turned 19 and the law changed allowing me to uncover the truth of my own origins. Now I am receiving names, places and iwi, it’s amazing, emotional and enriching. I hope to keep stitching these sacred links back together for future generations. Writing children’s and adult’s waiata in te reo and English is a calling for me, I believe. My mahi waiata reflects the journey of reclaiming my cultural identity and it’s a journey I walk with many others. I also want to help other te reo Māori learners as I know that singing songs in other languages is a great way to practice and learn that language.”
Letting the knowledge and skills in two careers – education and music – “talk to each other” and employing musician/producer, Ian Rushton has resulted in the production of two lovable didactic collections of bilingual te reo children’s songs, Waiata Tamariki (2018) and (to be released) Waiata Tamariki 2 (2022). With funding from NZ On Air, Jaqi has worked with video producer Matthew Donaldson to produce four new bilingual children’s videos. The sun te rā, Tekau ngā pēpeke and All the pearly shells have been released this year, with one to go Ngā manu o te moana. The full eight-song album Waiata Tamariki 2 is due for release on 24 September 2022.
Jaqi can also be found helping other teachers by presenting ONZA funded workshops with Auckland University lecturer, Robyn Trinick around retelling Māori legends through sound and movement.
“I really enjoyed working with Robyn and the tamariki at Te Atatu South Kindergarten to create our Retelling of Te Ika A Māui. It inspired me to write and record a song of the same name which is on the new album. I was also really honoured to be asked to join Judi Cranston’s Kindyrock online course for teachers as a guest expert – teaching one of my songs and translating some of Judi’s into te reo Māori. I love working with my teaching colleagues. I know what a difference it makes when we support our teachers in their language teaching with resources and strategies that make teaching easier and make learning loads of fun for our tamariki.”
As a songwriter of adult music, Jaqi shows the depth and range of her highly accessible and engaging songwriting ability in her autobiographical 16 track alt rock/pop album Statues Of Liberty (2019). Made with producer Tim Skedden ( The Feelers, Op Shop, Babysitters Circus) and recorded at Kog Studio, the album was released in October 2019 and was celebrated with a live release event at Anthology Lounge.
“After years of playing rock/reggae/country/pop cover songs in and around Christchurch while still plugging away writing and performing my own songs in a variety of edgy styles, it was a personal triumph of sorts to me to make this album. The night of the album release was one of the most victorious moments of my life. Having overcome breast cancer, moving from Invercargill to Auckland with twins for surgery and losing both adoptive parents within three years of each other – I could not believe I was standing on the stage playing MY songs with Gef from Recliner Rockers and Tim and Hamish from The Feelers. My daughter Shannon flew up from Christchurch and my bff Tracey came up from Invercargill to help me decorate the venue – it was a magic night. I ordered awesome bouquets of orchids in honour of my Dad who was a farmer and orchid exporter and the caterers provided yummy kai. I performed some stand up comedy at the start and got really good feedback for the whole night. Looking back, it was interesting how the world started tearing down statues in the name of liberty shortly after the album’s release. I couldn’t help but see that coincidence as meaningful.”
Now ready to roll off the production line is the follow-up to Statues Of Liberty, a five-track rock electronica folk fusion EP Guns Of Dialogue. Produced by Tim Skedden and recorded at Kog Studio – this is a punchy collection of songs with intense soul energy and cutting lyrics that will have you pushing repeat over and over.
“I’m really proud of this collection. It features the re-release of Naaku, my first te reo rock song, recorded in 1998 and remastered by Chris Chetland at Kog. It’s a bit darker and more edgy than Statues and I think that’s going to resonate more since the crises the world has been facing. It makes me so grateful for the support of so many awesome top musicians who are literally helping me see my dreams come true by adding their fabulous talents to my projects.”
For now, the focus is on the launch of Jaqi and Jade interactive music, movement and Māori learning experiences. “I’m taking bookings for centres and schools around the Waikato/Auckland area from my Facebook Page @JaqualynTaimana. I’m also planning an exciting live album launch for waiata Tamariki 2 at Te Ahu Art Gallery in Ponsonby featuring art and music-making by tamariki from a local kura. Watch this space for updates on that and more!”
Aroha nui kotuou katoa – wheriko ana ōku taimana iti