In Māori culture, “kaupapa” refers to the motivation and values behind action. Like an internal compass, “kaupapa” points towards consistent personal progression for Junelle Kunin. The New Zealand-born singer, songwriter, producer, label owner, and entrepreneur opens up an exchange of pure emotion through music. This transference of truth and light happens clearly on The Dalai Lama’s first album, Inner World [HITCO Entertainment/Khandro Music]—which she co-executive produced, assembled, and performed on. Inner World reached #1 on the Billboard New Age Album Chart, #4 Top New Artist Album Chart, peaking at #2 on the Global iTunes Album Chart and more.
She grew up in the small city of Rotorua, close to where her iwi (tribes) are from, Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Pūkenga. Being Māori she experienced an eclectic upbringing, developing her voice by singing in church before converting to Buddhism as an adult. In 2014, she released her independent debut EP, Just This Sky. Produced, arranged, and recorded by her husband Abraham Kunin, it generated local acclaim.
Alongside running Khandro Music, the couple spearhead a charitable program to encourage, help, and inspire at-risk youth by offering them a space to be creative.
“I want to give people a safe place for their emotions, we’re so occupied and constantly distracted that I try to provide honesty, care, and support. Even if it’s just momentarily, it’s a window where you can feel held with no judgement. Music inspires us to keep moving and trying. That’s so important to me.”