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Music graduate takes on the world

  • RJ Kairua 2

When R-J Kairua decided to get serious about his music career, he chose to study at Unitec’s state-of-the-art music facility at Waitakere campus. 

Refining his raw musical talent by enrolling in Unitec’s Diploma in Contemporary Music led R-J to greater success than he previously imagined possible. After being sponsored to travel to the United States, R-J and his band Shotgun Alley opened for rock legends Alice Cooper and Slash, and played at iconic live music venues in LA’s Sunset Strip. They also won Best Rock Video at the NZ Juice TV Awards.

R-J attributes his success to attending Unitec. “None of those things would have happened if I hadn’t gone to Unitec. I thanked my lecturer when I saw her. I said, ‘I wouldn’t have done anything if it wasn’t for this course’. I would have just stayed stuck in my little bubble. I know personally and have been told that I'm a far better singer now.”

Because the classes are quite small, R-J says he was able to get to know his lecturers. “They dedicate a lot of time to one on one, which was really helpful. They were always encouraging us and always there for us,” he says.

R-J credits Unitec with fine tuning not only his vocal ability, but also his competence as a performer. He learned vital skills including how to apply for funding and sponsorship, and innovative ways to market himself as an artist. “There’s a big difference between being able to play guitar and being a guitarist, or being a vocalist and fronting a band. You learn all this at Unitec.”

“The time is now. If you want to follow a dream that’s in music, be open minded, be a sponge and soak up all the information and all the knowledge you can get. Don’t put it off.”