Maua Miller

maua miller vailoa 3hand piano 1975
3-hand piano with Harry, Apia 1975
maua miller surfside '70s
Surfside, Apia, early ’70s

Maua Setu Miller was born on 27 July 1958 in Apia, Samoa where he grew up with his brothers Harry and Latu. On finishing school Maua worked in Polynesian Airlines for some years. Musically, he was the anchor who “held the fort” and kept the Miller Band going after Harry and I had left home. We could all play a few different instruments (well, four actually – guitar, bass, drums, and some piano) but Maua was the one who exercised this versatility the most.

maua miller tanoa drums '70s
Le Tanoa on drums, Apia ’70s
maua miller tanoa guitar 70s
Le Tanoa, Apia ’70s

He would switch from bass to guitar to keyboards to drums depending on player availability. When The Miller Band disbanded in 1980 Maua continued entertaining in Samoa. He joined Lyle Moors, Oliva Va’ai, and Francis Keil of The Tusitala Band, the resident band at the Tusitala Hotel at the time. Thanks to support and sponsorship from hotel management the Tusitala Band headed off to New Zealand in the mid-80s on a recording gig. At Kiwi/Pacific Records in Wellington they recorded their first cassette tape album, called Flight to Paradise.

maua miller mulivai cathedral 1994
Mulivai Cathedral, Apia 1994
maua miller tanoa jam 1978
Le Tanoa jam session, Apia 1978

A while after, guitarist friend Tenari joined the group on guitar. They were then off for another recording date, this time in Hawaii, and again thanks to hotel management. At Rendez-vous Inc., Honolulu they recorded their second cassette tape album, entitled Le Taeao. As before, all the original compositions in Le Taeao were penned by the band members with the exception of the tribute to the late Billie “Pili’opo” Retzlaff (nee Nelson).

maua miller auckland 2002
Auckland 2002
maua miller montage studio auckland 1997
Montage Studio, Auckland 1997

The title track Le Taeao, which in Samoan means “the morning” “the tomorrow” or “the future” was composed by Maua and has become well known in the Samoas and recorded by other Samoan artists. In 2000 Maua and wife Faye (nee Penn) moved to Auckland, New Zealand with their five children Annie, Pafuti, Maryann, Archie, and Escmay. The move was so that Faye could receive treatment for cancer. Faye lost her battle with cancer in Auckland a couple of years later.

maua miller auckland 2013
Auckland 2013
maua miller auckland 2007
Family reunion, Auckland 2007

Maua remarried and continued to live in Auckland with Josie Keelan and the children. He then spent a few years tutoring music at the University of Auckland in the Department of Pacific Studies, followed by a stint at Best Training’s Pacific Island Performing Arts (PIPA). Currently he teaches music at the School of Community Education at Freyberg School. It was Maua who introduced me to the world of DAWs (digital audio workstations). I have never looked back! Maua is a very versatile musician with a relaxed style of delivery, whether it be on bass, guitar, keyboards or drums. Like Dad he is also of fine voice, and still a practising multi-instrumentalist.

Click on the player buttons below to hear some abridged extracts of Maua’s performances.

Tribute to Billie Nelson, 4:04. This is a track from Le Taeao, and it’s a medley of the two Billie Nelson compositions It Is Only A Memory and South Sea Island Dream. Maua plays all the instruments except the flute (courtesy of a studio musician) and drums (courtesy of Francis Keil).

Le Taeao, 4:30. This is the title track from Le Taeao.

Island Woman, 5:25. This is a track from Le Taeao

Tausagi Mai O Manu, 1:29. This is a track from Flight To Paradise.