Ariana is a unique performer and composer of heartfelt music in both Te Reo Māori and English. She draws on folk and pop styles with a strong emphasis on Māori chant. Although now living in Wellington, her music in inspired and influenced by her Māori ancestry and the dramatic landscape of Te Waipounamu – The South Island of New Zealand.

Ariana was a featured vocalist on John Psathas’s recent international extravaganza No Man’s Land alongside World Music luminaries such as Meeta Pandit and Serj Tankian. She also featured as a vocalist and taonga puoro player for the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in 2015 for Kenneth Young’s In Paradisum. Last year she performed in the first concerto for taonga puoro, Ko te tātai whetū, that Ariana co-composed with Philip Brownlee and premiered with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

On February 22nd 2012 she touched the nation with her rendition of Whakaaria Mai for the Christchurch Earthquake Memorial event in Hagley Park, televised live and broadcast internationally.

Ariana was a featured artist on the Ihimaera album with some of the country’s top recording artists. She also played the song live in the Auckland Arts Festival for the Ihimaera Show. 

She also completed a nationwide tour in November 2011 with Kāi Tahu musicians Mahina-ina Kaui and Christine White as Voices of Our Ancestors, under the umbrella of Arts on Tour NZ.

In 2010 Ariana completed a tour of New Zealand to rave reviews with singer-songwriter Hannah Howes for the “Wahine Toa” tour. That year she performed her Ohaki (multi-media) show, featuring Richard Nunns, to standing ovations in Christchurch and Nelson.

In March-April 2008 Ariana was Musician in Residence at the Centre for New Zealand Studies, at the University of London, Birkbeck, after being awarded a $10,000 Creative New Zealand grant.

That same year she was a featured soloist in the WOW Wearable Arts Awards in Wellington, and also performed in the prestigious Pao Pao Pao event in the Wellington Town Hall. At this event, Ariana was presented with an achievement award from Toi Maori.

Since beginning her music career in Christchurch with folk duo Pounamu in 1993, to launching her solo career and releasing her debut solo album Whaea in 2002, Ariana has consistently produced beautiful and moving music that contributes to the growing corpus of contemporary Māori music.

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In 2008 she released her second solo album ‘
Tuia’ meaning 'stitched' – a metaphor for the connections between people, within and across generations. It is a bilingual album featuring production from award-winning producer Leyton, whose sparse electronic sound provides an engaging and gorgeous background for Ariana’s beautiful voice. The video for the title track produced by Louise Potiki-Bryant received international recognition when it was awarded best music video at the imaginative film + media festival in 2009 in Toronto.

An amazing combination of roots, electronica and soulful vocals.
— Fleur Jack, Tearaway Magazine
Tikao’s cultural heritage permeates this fine album with the true spirit of Aotearoa
— Seth Jordon, Songlines, UK
…a magical and at times mystical trip… like being bundled up in a big feather cloak and transported to another world.
— Scott Kara, Weekend Herald
Haunting and ethereal. Lovely
— Lopa Kothari, BBC Radio 3, UK
Ariana has knitted together the diverse elements of her own background to create something special
— fRoots, UK


Inspired by the devastating earthquake in her hometown of Christchurch, From Dust to Light, was released in November 2012 with Tikao presenting crystalline vocals and spacious meditative song structures with sparse, lush instrumental enhancement. Here, Tikao alternates from English to Te Reo – in particular her native Kāi Tahu dialect from the South island.

From Dust to Light demonstrates that the continuing strength of Māori culture in the Land of the Long White Cloud is not only measured in its warrior imagery or ferocious haka chants but also in the gentle inner power that artists like Ariana Tikao radiate
— Songlines

Tuia (2008) Funded by Te Waka Toi
Whaea (2002) Funded by Te Waka Toi & Te Māngai Pāho
From Dust to Light (2012) Funded by Te Waka Toi

Emeralds and Greenstone (2008) with band Emeralds and Greenstone, distributed by Ode Records and Mihi (1996) with her group Pounamu