Dr Te Oti Paipeta Rakena


Te Oti Rakena is an active performer and researcher. He is known for his willingness to sing in different vocal genres and perform in diverse performance contexts. His research interests are equally diverse and include the non-western and western vocal arts, studio pedagogy and university School of Music learning cultures.

Te Oti is an American-trained singer. He studied at New England Conservatory in Boston with master teacher Edward Zambara. He received his doctorate in vocal studies from the University of Texas at Austin and undertook three years’ post-doctoral study in Germany.

Te Oti has a distinguished reputation as a quality solo performer. Since returning to New Zealand he has become known for his performances in boutique operas and his commitment to premiering works on themes of national significance. He performed in the world premiere of Eve de Castro-Robinson’s Len Lye the opera, premiered David Hamilton’s work Erebus with the Auckland Choral Society and the New Zealand Premiere of Street Requiem: for the homeless and in 2017 play the Ferryman in Gareth Farr’s operatic version of Renee Liang’s play the Bone Feeder for the New Zealand Opera/Auckland Festival season. In 2018, he premiered the opera Live Drag, by Claire Scholes with Opera New Zealand.

He has participated in a number of research initiatives aimed at improving the quality of education for indigenous and minority students in New Zealand, and has worked closely with other researchers interested in non-western research methodologies and their associated analytical frameworks. He is currently a Principal Investigator on the Centre of Brain Research.

His students have included several high profile New Zealand singers. 2014 Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera, Hadleigh Adams, Moses Mackay of Sol3 Mio, and 2016 Lexus Songquest winner Benson Wilson.

Research | Current

  • National Primary School Survey "The State of Singing in New Zealand Primary Schools".
  • Prior Learning Project, Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries

Teaching | Current


  • Vocal anatomy and function
  • Studio pedagogy
  • Collaborative performance research
  • Maori and Pasifika studio learning
  • Diction for singers: International Phonetic Alphabet

Postgraduate supervision

Music Braille Methodology: Learning from Experience: MMus

To be or not to be: Balancing Process and Product in the classical piano lesson through improvisation: MMus (Studio Pedagogy

Crossover Vocal Music and the National Chinese Singing Style:  MMus

The Soloist as an ensemble singer: DMA (Voice)


  • NZARE Group Award for Success for All, 2012
  • University of Auckland Excellence in Teaching (Innovation) 2010
  •  University of Auckland Research Excellence Awards, 2010
  • 2008 University of Auckland Excellence in Equity Award


Associate Dean Māori and Pacific, National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries

Associate Head of School, Classical Performance

Coordinator of Vocal Studies (Classical)

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Presented internationally at BERA (2007), EERA (2007, 2008, 2009), ISME Bologna (2008) and Performa (2009)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Rakena, T. P. Five Mystical Songs, 19/11/2017. St Matthew's Chamber Orchestra Concert 6, St Matthews, Auckland.
  • Rakena, T. P. (2017). When Schenker learned to Siva: Entwining traditions and power-sharing through community music. In Cohen, Mary L. (Ed.) Proceedings of the XV International Seminar of the ISME Commission on Community Music Activity Innovation and Change in Community Music Activity, 237-244. Edinburgh, Scotland: ISME Commission on Community Music Activity.
  • Farr, G., & Liang, R. The Bone Feeder, 23/3/2017. [Creative Work Concert], (1 hr 20 mins), Auckland Arts Festival, 8 - 26 March, 2017, ASB Waterfront Theatre, Auckland, New Zealand. Commissioning body: New Zealand Opera/Auckland Arts Festival Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/36396
  • Rakena, T. O., Airini, & Brown, D. (2016). Success for all: Eroding the culture of power in the one-to-one teaching and learning context. International Journal of Music Education, 34 (3), 285-298. 10.1177/0255761415590365
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/31803
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Deidre Brown
  • Rakena, T. P. (2016). Forging genuine partnerships in the music studio context: Reviving the master-apprentice model for post-colonial times. In L. Ashley, D. Lines (Eds.) Intersecting cultures in music and dance education: An oceanic perspective (pp. 119-133). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. 10.1007/978-3-319-28989-2_8
  • Rakena, T. P. (2015). Sustaining indigenous performing arts: The potential decolonizing role of arts-based service learning. In B.-L. Bartleet, D. Bennett, A. Power, N. Sunderland (Eds.) Engaging First Peoples in Arts-Based Service Learning : Towards Respectful and Mutually Beneficial Educational Practices (pp. 119-131). Springer International Publishing. 10.1007/978-3-319-22153-3_8
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/29799
  • Rakena, T. O. (2015). Singing Communities: Conserving Pacific Island knowledge, language and artistic practices. Paper presented at The 2nd Asia Pacific Community Music Network (APCMN) Seminar, Tokyo, Japan. 24 July - 25 July 2015. Connecting Perspectives on Community Music Activities in the Asia Pacific Region. Related URL.
  • Rakena, T. P. Elijah, 30/5/2015. [Oratorio performance], (53 minutes), Mendelssohn's “Elijah”, Christ Church Whangarei. Commissioning body: Whangarei Choral Society Related URL.

Contact details

Primary location

Level 8, Room 806
New Zealand