TODAY |

Returning home to Papua New Guinea an inspiration for Christchurch rapper Vallé

New Zealand hip hop musician Vallé found inspiration when he visited family in Papua New Guinea.

Vallé with friends and family in Papua New Guinea Source: supplied/RNZ

Enjalas Jenkinson came to New Zealand from Papua New Guinea aged just eight months old, suffering from malaria and rickets.

He now makes music as Vallé, releasing his album Care For Me earlier this year, and recently a follow-up single called Trip Advisor - the video for which sees him returning to Papua New Guinea and reconnecting with his family.

Jenkinson was raised in Christchurch by his British father, while his mother continued to live in Papua New Guinea after his parents divorced.

He said being seriously ill as child had helped him realise how valuable life was, after his father told him about it when he was in primary school.

"I think I was raised in a way by him where he didn't want to sugar coat the world and the world's realities," he said.

"I'm very much woken and aware that I'm very lucky and thousands of people that got what I got aren't so lucky every year," he said.

While he had grown up in New Zealand, Jenkinson said he always knew there would be a day when he would return to Papua New Guinea - it was just a matter of when. However, he felt there were expectations he needed to live up to before he could return.

"Every Papua New Guinian and other Pacific Islanders know when you come to the western world, you have access to finance and opportunities you don't have back home," he said.

"There's a certain heightened expectation that when you come home, that your hands won't be empty. And so, with knowing that, I knew I had to be in some sort of a financial position where I was able to meet the expectations, at least to a small degree."

The first time he visited the country, the aim was to reconnect with family - including his mother and his older brother.

"Long story short, I fell in love and kind of had this regret that was for a big part out of my control, that it had been such a long time that we'd gone back. So I was like I'm going to be coming back as soon as possible."

When he got back to New Zealand, he found the inspiration to write his single 'Trip Advisor', which included lyrics in the Tok Pisen language, a type of pidgin English spoken all over Papua New Guinea.

"When I got back to NZ after the first trip, I'd written 'Trip Advisor'. It just came naturally, the musical instinct of all the thoughts that were in my head. I just put pen to the pad and then 'Trip Advisor' was birthed.

"It really made me courageous in the pursuit of including my language in my songs to a higher level that it was. First of all, let's just pause and realise the fact that Papua New Guinea is one country and makes up a sixth of the languages in the entire globe and people aren't aware of that."

Last year, he returned to the country to record a music video for the single.

The sense of joy pictured in the video, which features Jenkinson's family, was real, he said.

"Everything is very much uncontrolled. Because, one, you can't even control it, like the amount of people that want to be involved in the project presented daily challenges, hourly challenges. There's so many unforeseen obstacles in an uncontrolled third world country that can present itself.

"The core characters that you see are all family, immediate and then slightly extended family. In the different settings, it's just whoever's there at the time. No formal casting whatsoever."

rnz.co.nz