Hiriwa’s Encore

The past couple weeks have been a blur between Girls Rock Detroit Summer Camp and a series of shows in Auckland. And while everything moved ahead as planned (and I do plan to debrief on those and the remaining July shows), they took a back seat in my mind as a friend and colleague, guitarist for the San Detroit Band, Hiriwa Rikihana, landed in hospital with life threatening symptoms and a mysterious illness. Thankfully Hiriwa is on the upswing since being diagnosed and treated for a rare auto immune disorder, but it was touch and go for a while. Here’s an update his partner shared:

“I thought I would just share something Hiriwa and I put together incase you felt to share anything tonight. It’s separate and different to what’s on givealittle updates xx  So blessed to know yas and love yas xoxox  

Hiriwas last 30 days: 

1 A&E visit 29 nights 2 hospitals 3 wards  3 misdiagnosis’s 2 ICU departments Multi organ failure x 7 (Brain, Liver, kidney, spleen, bone marrow, heart, lung) 1 final diagnostic of a rear auto immune disease HLH that attacks the body. 1 in 100,000 people diagnosed  16 blood transfusions Dialysis Countless doctors and nurses 4 Physiotherapists A Kina cut A hoist 1 Barry bed A space chair Hospital food  Loss of 30 Kgs  A few home cooked dinners 3 weeks of chemo Steroids through the ying yang 3 girls waiting for their daddy to come home A whānau village to help raise them through this time  And 1 community who absolutely rocks!!!”

I cry every time I read this message. As his friends, bandmates, and community, we were feeling rather helpless. We had a gig coming up and the natural thing to do was to convert the gig into a fundraiser to help relieve financial burden on the family at this time. Honestly, it was the easiest fundraiser I ever organized. No sooner did I run the idea past a few people than everything came together. Local musicians from various bands donated sets, Belltech donated a PA, we had a volunteer light and sound tech, graphic designer, door person, koha collectors, and lots of shares on social media to get the word out. With only two weeks notice the community organized itself so effortlessly that in the days leading up I was sure we must’ve forgotten something that would account for the stress that didn’t manifest. 

Hiriwa’s Encore (named after the family’s give a little page) became Hiriwa’s Encore Part I when a double header straight fell in our laps. Another local venue, The Butter Factory, inquired about San Detroit Band for the following night and was receptive to our fundraiser pitch. For a second time, all it took was a few phone calls to get everything in place. 

I’m super pleased to share that between both nights we raised roughly $2000. We hope this lessens the financial burden on Hiriwa and whanau such that they can focus on recovery, and we look forward to having Hiriwa back gigging with us soon! 

My thanks to everyone who made this happen: The Irish Wolf, the Butter Factory, Guardian Security Services/HT Security Services Limited, Rockshop Whangarei, Belltech, Benji Cochran (lighting and sound), Micky Nogher (door), The San Detroit Band, Peach Bombs, The Crooked Cops, Sheikh, The Gold Cloaks, The Low Keyz, Sharmel Cook Music, Harry Ashbrook, Henry Beattie of Legacy NZ

To Hiriwa and whanau, thank you for trusting us to support you at this time Xoxo

One last thought…I’d never seen all these incredible local musicians in one time and place before, some of whom I’d never met or heard before this weekend. In a testament to Hiriwa’s mana and the aroha of this community, we came together because one of our own is in need. That is a beautiful way to be, BUT…I think it would be a shame if circumstances like these are the only times we get together like this. I know Hiriwa was feeling mad fomo over this weekend. I’d like to suggest we all come together at least once more to celebrate the bro when he’s healed enough to be back on stage with us. Save the date for Hiriwa’s Return.

Musically yours,


ps. If you’re inspired and able to donate please do so at the #givealittle page linked above!

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