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, community music and performance 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-an Opera in the making 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, 2016 Lexus Songquest winner Benson Wilson and current New Zealand Opera emerging artists Samson Setu and Manase Latu.

Research | Current

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

Current publications include:

RAKENA, T. P. (2018). Community Music in the South Pacific: Talanoa, A collective conversation on the edge of a party. In L. Higgins and B. L. Bartleet (Eds), Oxford Companion of Community Music, Oxford University Press

RAKENA, T. P. (in press). Sustaining Musical Ecosystems of the Pacific: Reframing the Climate Change Dilemma.Cain M. & Bartleet, B. (Eds.). Asian Pacific Community Music Network Symposium. USA: University of Hawaii.

RAKENA, T. P. (2016). Forging genuine partnerships in the music studio context: Reviving the master-apprentice model for post-colonial times. Lines, D. & Ashley L. (Eds.), Intersecting cultures in music and dance education: An oceanic perspective. USA: Springer.RAKENA, T. P. (2016). Engaging with Māori Culture through the Performing Arts. Sunderland, N. & Bartleet, B. (Eds.). Arts-based service learning with first peoples-towards respectful and mutually beneficial educational practices. USA: Springer.

Teaching | Current


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

Postgraduate supervision

Current PhD Supervisions:

  • Music Learning Theory and Music Braille: A New Pedagogy for Learners who are Blind
  • New Zealand Biculturalism in Music and Music Education
  • Voices in harmony: How can music therapists work collaboratively with communities to maximise the benefits of community singing for people with communication difficulties related to a neurological condition

Masters Supervisions:

  • Studio Pedagogy: Releasing the body’s potential: Laying the foundations for healthy singing in male adolescents







  • 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

Coordinator of Vocal Studies (Classical)

Areas of expertise

Voice Performance

Vocal Pedagogy

Non-Western research methodologies

Community Music Practice

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Research Commisioner for the Community Music Activities (CMA) a research commission of ISME.
  • Member of the International Society of Music Educators (ISME) member
  • Member of the Asia Pacific Community Music Network (APCMN)
  • Member of New Zealand Association of Teachers of Singing (NEWZATS)

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