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NZRelo - Ardijah


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The birth of Ardijah began in 1978. Ryan Monga (Fonk Bass) was introduced to Jay Dee (FonkRock Guitar) at Dawson Rd in Otara, South Auckland by the Fong brothers Chester & Chris. The placement of James Tuiara on (percussion/vocals) and Richie Campbell on (FonkDrums) meant Ardijah the COVERS BAND was born. Their first full audition felt like they had been jamming together for years, and it just so happened that all the newly formed members had been listening to the same influences, mainly in the Fonk field, so it didn’t take long for the band to fuse into something Fonky.

After a year of playing at local social gatherings, Ardijah entered the Billy Joe’s Nightclub talent quest in 1980. This was an event (unbeknown to all) which would lead the boys directly to the band’s female vocalist. A budding young 15 year old Maori Girl with a unique sweet voice and fine tuned vocal ability, Betty-Anne was indirectly auditioning for the band. No-one was to foresee the future that this girl was going to end up the main focal point of the band, gaining huge respect as one of New Zealand’s top vocal divas.

As the resident fonk/R&B band at various clubs, their popularity grew as they honed their skills to become one of Auckland’s tightest covers bands. They looked at this as their 6 year apprenticeship, playing ‘other people’s music’ but then decided, in order to take it to the next level, it meant that the direction would need to change. Their own original music was starting to emerge and in 1987 their first single and video for “Give Me Your Number” was released. The band and this song featured on the NZ movie ‘Queen City Rockers’ which was Ardijah’s first introduction to the ‘music industry’. Written by BassPlayer Ryan Monga, this song was to change Aotearoa (NZ) Radio forever.

Thru the years, the sound of the band was FonkRock & R&B, but to become unique and different from the rest, Ardijah had to create their own sound. What developed was a blend of their Polynesian roots, with those funky foundations creating a style they call ‘Poly Fonk’.

Ryan ‘Captain Fonk’ Monga
(Visionary, songwriter, producer, bass, drums & vocals)
“Back in the day… the stuff that was played on NZ radio and TV was more English influenced and music from NZ groups was either Rock, Country or the ‘Dunedin sound’ alternative. (REM sounding) In our Maori Polynesian neighbourhood, we jammed to Earth, Wind & Fire, Commodores, K.C & The Sunshine Band, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Prince, Michael Jackson, George Benson, Santana, – we were influenced by rootsy groove stuff. So, for me, just to hear some of our ‘flavours’ on the radio and TV was a focus when we started recording and touring the country”.

Going thru a band line-up change then leaving the comforts of the Auckland nightclub and pub scene to focus totally on Ardijah original material, meant that Ryan, Betty-Anne, Tony (Guitar/Vocals) & Simon (keyboards) would farewell the security of a regular weekly wage to take a punt on the live scene and become an independent and original music group. The band made all the big sacrifices during the late 1980’s.

In 1987, being the inaugural recipients of the Rheineck Rock Award brought closer the reality of their debut album ‘Take A Chance’. Without this $30,000 award it would have taken Ardijah at least another 6 months to a year, to gig, and put dollars aside for their album. Through Warner Music, Ardijah released Take A Chance (1988), and achieved platinum sales as well as receiving ‘Most Promising Group’ at the NZ Music Awards. From this album, classic Ardijah tunes Give Me Your Number, Time Makes A Wine and Watchin’ U which were all top 10 hits.

The next 3 years, saw Ardijah expand from 4-piece to an 8-piece ensemble (horn section included), with Ryan ‘Captain Fonk’ Monga and ‘Betty-Anne’ remaining the nucleus of Ardijah.

From the outset, there was always the desire to take Ardijah’s groove overseas, and in mid 1990, an opportunity arose to do a 3 month stint in Sydney, Australia. Having no ties or obligations to any New Zealand record company or label, (no signed contract) Ardijah ventured across the ditch to sell-out shows (ex-pat Kiwi music lovers). Ardijah’s big break and introduction to the unsuspecting Australian audience came when they scored the support for Bobby Brown’s 1990 Australian dates on his world tour.

Ardijah ended up staying Australia for exactly 5 years to the day and after scoring a place for an original Ardijah song “Give Me Time” on the movie soundtrack and as part of the script to world famous movie “Once were Warriors” Ardijah were finally able to return home back to Aotearoa (New Zealand) to start a new stage in the band History.

Ardijah needed to take control of their own future so independently releasing their second album ‘Influence’ in 1997 (10 years after Ardijah’s debut CD), gave both core members of Ardijah hands-on experience into the running of a record label.

Releasing their next single ‘Love So Right’ in 1998, (a remake of a Bee Gees song) was another time of transition, establishing their independent label Poly Fonk Productions. This song became the most played song on Aotearoa Radio. Then with the release of their #1 single ‘Silly Love Songs’ (a remake of Paul Mc Cartney’s song) Ardijah’s sound was definitely developing and moving towards an earthy, pacific feel – Ryan Capt Fonks fusing of traditional pacific rhythms, voice, ukulele and island drums (pate) – Developed into a new genre of music called, the POLY FONK sound!

The Ardijah journey thus far, has taken the band to share and experience many lands, people and cultures. Visiting the African continent and sharing the Poly Fonk groove with Capetonians in South Africa (melting pot of many different cultures), where ‘Silly Love Songs’ was a dance floor hit and #1 on radio stations in Cape Town. From our very own Pacific nations, the Cook Islands, Samoa, New Caledonia and across the ditch to Australia, and recently returned from New Mexico and Arizona U.S.A. performing at festivals with Native Peoples of America ~ learning a confirmation of mutual respect that indigenous peoples have for whanau (family), those before us, the earth, our environment and all creators great or small. Music is Life.

Past and Present Ardijah Members/Musicians.

  • Betty-Anne (Vocals, Ukulele & Percussion)
  • Ryan Monga (Producer, Musical Director, Drums & Vocals)
  • Rico Tali (Sax, Flute, Ukulele, Guitar & Vocals)
  • Kaitapu Monga (Bass & Vocals)
  • Karl Benton (Keyboards & Vocals)


Jay Dee (Guitar & Vocals) Richie Campbell (Drums) James Tuiara (Lead Vocals & Percussion) Ben Gilgan (Keyboards) Paul Drury (Keyboards) Phil Crown (Keyboards) Teina Benioni (Guitar) Tony Nogotautama (Vocals & Guitar) Simon Lynch (Keyboards) Linda Tala (Keyboards) Harry Poe (Guitar & Vocals) Anthony Grey (Keyboards & Vocals) DJCXL (Scratcher) Eric John Rasmussen..from Heatwave..(Guitar) Saylene Leauanae (Keyboards & Vocals) Waylan Toia (M.C. Rapper) Philly D (Scratcher/Rapper) Efrem (Drums) Ken (Keyboards) Adrian Grey (Bass) Peter Hoera (Bass) Brinnie Nepia (Bass) Daniel Waho (Sax & Vocals) Kim Halladay (Guitar) Craig Denham (Keyboards) Barbara Griffen (Keyboards & Vocals) Neville Schwabe (saxophone, flute, trumpet & Electric wind instrument) Paul Norman (Trumpet) Paul Kentell (Sax) Brent Turner (Keyboards & Sax) Anita Schwabe (Keyboards) Trevor Collings (Guitar) Louise Hughs (Guitar) Kelly Kahukiwa (Sax) Eddie Manukau (Guitar) Rick Olsen (Keyboards) Glen Muirhead (keyboards) Tim Gaze (guitar) Chris Kamzelas (guitar)John Carson (drums) Nick McBride (drums) Dimitri (sax) Heber Ngati (Drums/percussion) Rick Robertson (saxophone) Paul Niane (Saxaphone) Steve Larkins (Keyboards) Mark Steven (Keyboards)

2010 Aotearoa(New Zealand) Pacific Music Awards.

On Saturday the 29th May 2010, Ardijah received the ‘Manukau Institute of Technology Life Time Achievement Award’ recognising the Band’s contribution to New Zealand Music from a career spanning 30 years.

Moving to Australia Moving to Australia