[Source: NZ Herald]
Betty-Anne Monga, the front person of Aotearoa soul band Ardijah, has been recognised for her services to music in the 2023 New Year Honours.
Monga, who is Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāiterangi, Tainui and Tūwharetoa, was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
In an interview with AudioCulture in 2018, Monga — whose maiden name is Hill — said she was one of eight kids and that her family moved to Auckland from Tauranga when she was 3.
Her mother was a soprano and her father played the banjo. “He was terrible,” she said.
Monga said her first attempt at singing was at Kōwhai Intermediate in the central Auckland suburb of Kingsland.
“That was Betty’s Group, the name was only because I played guitar. It was a harmony group, three Samoans and I was the Māori girl.”
With husband Ryan Monga and Ardijah’s band members, they pioneered the mainstream popularity of Polynesian music in Aotearoa, achieving six top-20 singles and albums reaching Top Ten chart status.
Ardijah have received numerous awards, including the Industry Achievement Award at the Waiata Māori Music Awards, Album of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Pacific Music Awards, and Female Vocalist of the Year at the New Zealand Music Awards.
Over the past decade, Monga has helped raise the profile of young emerging artists under the umbrella of Matariki celebrations, Pacific Diva’s concert series and Auckland Arts Festival 2021.
She has supported fundraising causes, including aid for Samoa following the 2009 tsunami and the Alofa mo Samoa Trust to support measles-affected families in 2020. During the Covid-19 pandemic, she used her profile to support and perform at the Vax My Waka vaccination event.
Ardijah continue to be in demand, performing regularly at festivals. Their next gig is at Summer Frequencies in Gisborne on Friday, January 13.