Ariana is a singer, composer, leading player of taonga puoro (Māori instruments) and New Zealand Arts Laureate. She writes waiata exploring themes relating to her Kāi Tahu identity and mana wahine, often drawing upon historical kōrero from her ancestors.

She started performing in 1993 with the folk group Pounamu, and has subsequently released three solo albums: Whaea (2002), Tuia (2008), and From Dust to Light (2012); and has been involved with many collaborative projects, including Emeralds and Greenstone, Auaha, and Ihimaera.

She has been mentored by Richard Nunns, Brian Flintoff, and Hinewirangi Kohu-Morgan three of the people who have led the taonga puoro revival. She regularly works with other taonga puoro exponents, such as Alistair Fraser and Ruby Solly, collaborating and sharing her knowledge through wānanga.

In 2008 she was a soloist in the World of Wearable Arts show in Wellington, and that same year performed in the Pao Pao Pao festival at the Wellington Town Hall, where she was presented with an achievement award from Toi Māori.


In 2015 Ariana and Philip Brownlee were commissioned by the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO), to compose the first concerto for taonga puoro ‘Ko te tātai whetū’. Ariana performed it with the CSO that year, and later with Stroma and the Nelson Symphony Orchestra.

She has also performed with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, the New Zealand String Quartet, and in 2016 was a featured singer in John Psathas’s epic international collaboration ‘No Man’s Land’. In 2021 Ariana performed taonga puoro and sang with Māori thrash metal band Alien Weaponry and the NZSO, and again with the NZSO in the newly commissioned ‘Ngā Hihi o Matariki’ symphony that she also collaborated on with composer Gareth Farr, and singer Mere Boynton.

Ariana’s music has featured on television, film, theatre, dance, and in online videos.
Whatever the setting for her music, Ariana always brings artistic integrity, and what one reviewer described as “depth and dignity,” making her a sought-after talent and collaborator in the arts scene in New Zealand today. She is also a published writer and poet.