The wait, he says, was because he'd been "working and raising my family and paying my mortgage, all that kind of thing." His offspring includes one Che Fu.
Tigi, a first generation New Zealander with Niuean parents, had plenty of other passions to shift his focus from music. He was a dedicated activist from a young age. He was kicked out of Mt Albert Grammar for refusing to cut his hair – the headmaster objected to Tigi’s afro, which was styled on Jimi Hendrix’s look. He remembers walking out the school gates to find a bunch of Auckland university students protesting, including Tim Shadbolt. Tigi was more worried about what he was going to tell his parents.
Tigi joined the Polynesian Panthers at 17, and was their Minister of Culture and Minister of Fine Arts. The Panthers worked to help new arrivals from the Islands settle into their new city, deal with housing issues and dodgy landlords, provided homework programmes for their children, and a free legal book on dealing with the police, written for the Panthers by a young lawyer named David Lange.
He created Unity Pacific in 2002 – his wife found their guitarist and keyboard player through an advert in the Trade and Exchange.
Tigi was active in the protest movement, taking part in the land protest at Bastion Point in 1978, and the anti-tour marches of 1981 around the controversial Springbok Rugby Tour of New Zealand. He was singled out by the police as a ringleader for those protests and arrested. He was sentenced to Mt Eden Prison for 12 months, but released on good behaviour after nine months.
Tigi embraced the Rastafarian faith after the 1979 visit by reggae superstar Bob Marley and his band. He helped set up a chapter of the 12 Tribes of Israel in Auckland, aided by a visiting Jamaican named Hensley Dyer, and was a member of the 12 Tribes of Israel band. He had earlier been in a band called Unity, which he started in 1975.
He created Unity Pacific in 2002 – his wife found their guitarist and keyboard player through an advert in the Trade and Exchange – and they recorded their debut album From Street To Sky the following year, followed by Into The Dread in 2007.
In May 2009, Tigi was honoured at the Pacific Music Awards with a Lifetime Achievement Award, acknowledging his long involvement in the music scene.
Tigi finally got the opportunity to return to his parents' homeland, Niue, for the first time in 2011, to play a concert with his son Che Fu. The visit was filmed for a documentary called Sons Afar that screened on Māori TV in October 2011.
Tigi has featured in several other documentaries – he and Che were in Children of the Revolution (2008), looking at the children of political activists in New Zealand, and the previous year a documentary on Tigi’s life, From Street To Sky, screened on Māori TV and the film festival circuit.
Tigi Ness is the father of hip-hop musician Che Fu.
During the 1970s Tigi Ness was involved in the Polynesian Panthers movement in Auckland.
Tigi Ness served nine months in prison after taking part in anti-apartheid protests during the 1981 Springbok rugby tour of NZ.
Tigi was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2009 Pacific Music Awards.