Whāingaroa YouthWORK Collective Ngā Whakaruruhau Māhuri

For this edition of the Whāingaroa Youthwork Collective – Ngā Whakaruruhau Māhuri Rangatahi Page, Matua Joe chats to Luna De La Cruz.

How’s life? 

Life’s quietening down a bit for me because we are going into winter. So just focusing more on school and work and trying to write new music at the moment as well!

Great, let’s get to the music a bit later but tell me about work where do you work?

I work at Wyld Cafe; it’s good, they pay me well which is really good because I think being young and a hospo and jobs in general, employers can kinda rip you off but it’s not a ripoff and the staff are lovely, everyone’s really kind.

Tell me about growing up in Whaingaroa?

Life growing up in Whaingaroa is something that I am super grateful for already and I haven’t even left. I feel like I will always remember that and it’s really like formed me as a person having the community  and all the  influences of people around me, the arts, music scene so I think Whaingaroa has made me a lot of who I am because I probably wouldn’t have been exposed to that in other places. I love the ocean and I think the conservation culture is something I appreciate! 

Tell me a bit about your education because I feel like you have had a really rich education experience.

I attended Matapihi kindergarten and then when it was around time to go to school my parents and a few like minded people thought to make a homeschooling group, so that happened for quite a few years with just going around people’s houses and the parents taking turns teaching us playing to their strengths. At some point we had tutors and we have developed a pretty close connection with every one of those teachers we’ve had. We were offered very awesome learning; they all have different strengths and it was a very project-based way of learning.

I think it is very cool because everybody got to explore the same topic but in ways that suited their style of learning and their brain. We are just given the free rein to explore our passions.

I have seen you perform at the Old School at WTF etc and you are so talented, so tell us about your journey and your new album.

I have loved music all my life. I have a really musical family. Mum and dad always had lots of music playing, lots of reggae, spanish flamenco, and lots of Rage against the Machine.

When I was 9ish a teacher said you can sing really well so I started learning guitar. I played my first gig at 12 at a busking comp, and then I started writing originals and performing. One of the times I performed with this guy Nikau Te Huki and we talked afterwards and he was like I would love to produce a song together.

And so we ended up setting up a recording studio in my house and recorded a song I wrote on holiday in the South Island and we recorded and produced a song in 9 hours.

We released the song on my 16th birthday and it got to 4,500 streams in under a month which I was super stoked about. The name of the song is called ‘God Knows Where’ and it’s on Spotify and apple music.

What’s the song about?

I wrote it on a rainy day and it was a very emotional moment; some of the lyrics I had written years before and it’s really long. It was really healing to write for me. I was able to work through it with art and music and then putting it out there and having people message me and say hey I’m listening to this and its really helping me out and I’m having a really hard day. That’s the goal. I think it’s beautiful to turn my experiences into something that can help other people, and that’s the ultimate goal.

What advice would you give to a young person?

I think with there being much more social media – there is a real pressure to grow up really fast and I think try to appreciate being young and being free and all the things you can do with your life and don’t feel you have to fit into the moulds you have been shown all the time. Make the most of Raglan’s nature and beauty. Focus on what makes you happy not on what other people think you should do or what is cool to do. Hold on to your morals and who you are.

Is there any one you want to shout out to?

Brian and Naomi who have given me so many opportunities like playing at Sound Splash and the Yard, Tukana who has been my mentor and my big sister! And my mum and dad for being great parents!

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