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Kahu, 2004 - photo from absorbed.co.nz

Kahu Marino Kingi, known simply as Kahu or 'that weird Maori busker guy who hangs out on Victoria Street all the time and just shouts and whistles random shit', has been a consistent presence in the Hamilton music and night-life scene since the late nineties. At some point in his life Kahu was the victim of a head injury, resulting in his current intellectual disability and erratic behaviour which is often wrongly attributed to drugs or alcohol. Kahu is seldom seen drinking alcohol, let alone doing any drugs.

A blanket on the western footpath of Victoria Street (usually between Hood and Collingwood Streets) is Kahu's stage; passers by and al fresco diners his audience. Kahu's performances are solo arrangements consisting of voice and tupperware or ice-cream container drums. He mixes clicks, whistles and whoops with abstract lyrics in a vaguely hiphop style. Kahu's music is known for its abstraction; the meaning and content of his songs are all but indecipherable to anyone but Kahu himself. His songs are long, free form improvisations continuing near constantly for many hours at a time. Though Kahu's stylistic influences can only be guessed at (rap is the only one that he has admitted to), people have claimed to hear in his work the influences of early blues, scat, avant-garde jazz and the vocal music of many indigenous cultures.

Kahu is often joined by friends and aquaintances, though few adopt the same regularity and performative focus of Kahu himself, beyond occasional supplemental drumming. Kahu will often be joined by inebriated town-goers, though these interactions are mostly one off instances engaged in for comedic effect.

Kahu's presence is largely tolerated by local business owners and police officers; Kahu himself is aware of the boundaries of behaviour and will always relocate if so asked. The public of Victoria Street is largely ambivalent toward Kahu, or they simply ignore him. The greatest obstacles to Kahu's artistic expression are the drunken munters looking for a victim or snobby yuppies offended by his presence who abuse him, ridicule him and try and bait him into sensational behaviours. Kahu's whistles and comments are often misconstrued by passing women who think they are the object of his vocalisations; in fact, Kahu does not seem to direct his performances at any member of the public.

External Links

An Interview with Kahu, including an audio file