Hawaii-based Māori artist Sam Mangakahia aka Hamiora Art gifted a customised guitar to the just-announced winner of American Idol Iam Tongi.
It took about 60 hours to make this beautifully hand-crafted musical instrument from his draft.
The guitar is carved with Polynesian designs representing the 18-year-old singer's Tongan and Samoan heritage, where he is from (Hawaii), and his family ties.
Sam titled this piece 'Imua' which means to 'move forward' in Hawaiian.
Sharing photographs of Iam holding this beautiful piece, Sam explained the design's significance:
"This piece is dedicated to Rodney, Iam and his family."
"This design represents Iam’s cultural and divine identity as a Polynesian and as a child of God. The outer layer of this piece symbolizes his parents and the source of inspiration they are to him. The story is deep and the design is intricate, but the overall meaning of the piece is “Imua” To move forward."
The blue represented the connection to Polynesian - the ocean. The middle design represented his Samoan and Tongan heritage, and the outer layer represented who he is and who he looks up to.
What makes this design even more special, is the tribute to his late dad.
The placement of his dad's name 'Rodney' is just above the soundhole.
“Every time he strums the guitar, and every time he sings with this instrument, it's a memory of his dad. A memory of [Rodney] harmonizing with Iam and sharing stories. It's just a memory to hold close to Iam every time he plays his guitar," Sam told KITV Island news.
Sam recalled Iam's heartwarming reaction when he first gave the guitar to him.
“When I gave it to him at his villa after the show, his reaction was really heartwarming as an artist to feel like it was received,” Sam said.
He really embraced this piece and to see it really represented his family.