After being contacted through YouTube, Happ was asked to join the National Geographic Orion cruise out of Aitutaki as one of the vessel’s musical acts.
After spending four days aboard the ship in May, Happ was asked to join the cruise again, but was this time offered the opportunity to bring a special guest – her grandmother Tekura Ruaporo, the other star of her YouTube video.
“I of course had to talk to my Nena about it as she has never sung on stage like that before, apart from in her church choir,” Kura said.
The two regularly sing together, but usually just when they both happen to be about the house.
“You know how most people sing in the shower? Well Nena and I sing when we are doing chores around the house.”
After getting the go-ahead from her Nena, Kura said she asked her to give her a “crash course” in local songs the pair could perform.
Once the two aboard the ship, they were given a surprise when their YouTube video was shown to the cruise ship passengers.
“Nena and I walked into the room to find our video playing on the big screen right as we started singing in the clip, and all the travellers gave us a standing ovation. It was overwhelming”.
The pair performed on the ship in what Kura described as an “intimate” setting.
“I am normally used to just performing in the background, but this was very different. Nena and I performed a couple of songs and then answered some questions from the audience, then we sang some more songs and answered more questions.
“It was very different but also a really cool way for us to share with the travellers about our culture and our background.”
After initially being nervous about being on stage, Happ said her Nena was a star by the end of their performances.
“I could see near to the start of the gig she was shaking from being so nervous, so I said to her in Maori, “Just look at me Nena” and she eased right into it.
“By the end of it she was a bona-fide rock-star”.
Most of the passengers were in the older age group and Happ said some commended the pair on their special bond.
“They were all older, so grandparents themselves so they all celebrated and commented on our relationship. Some of them even commented that they missed their grandparents. It was a nice way of connecting with them.”
Kura said the whole experience with her Nena, is something she will treasure.
“It was so very special to be able to bring her with me, but of course to perform with her on stage was just amazing.”
The National Geographic Orion cruise caters for just over 100 travellers. On board the ship are wildlife experts who provide in-depth information on the different flora and fauna they experience at the ship’s different ports of call.