Browse Music

Tau Moe ("Papa Tau") (pronounced Mo-ay) (August 13, 1908 - June 24, 2004) was a singer and musician who formed The Tau Moe Family musical troupe which toured the globe for decades.


Tau Moe was born in American Samoa to an American Mormon missionary family of Samoan descent. He was raised in Laie, near the 1919 Mormon Laie Hawaii Temple. Tau was a graduate of McKinley High School and from his travels learned to speak 10 languages.

Tau's nephew Josefa Moe (born 1933 - died 2006) was himself a legendary stage performer in Polynesian revues. Josefa was also the original Moki from the Hawaiian Punch commercials.

The Tau Moe Family (musical troupe):

The Tau Moe Family touring troupe, consisted of Tau Moe, guitar and bass vocals; Rose Moe, lead vocals; Lani Moe, ukulele and vocals; Dorian Moe, second guitar and vocals; and were accompanied at least once by Bob Brozman,Hawaiian guitar and harp guitar. The Tau Moe Family was included in the American Folk Music and Folklore Recordings. The troupe performed for international figures including Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Aristotle Onassis, Mohandas Gandhi and King Farouk.

Moe was an influential pioneer of the Hawaiian steel guitar who along with his wife Rose formed the core of troupe. The group's success coincided with increased interest in Polynesia due in part to colonialism, and exemplified by cultural fads like Tiki bars and Tiki culture. The Tau Moe Family helped break the race barrier in the United States. In the late 1940s, the troupe assisted paramedics during riots in India.

When the Royal Hawaiian Hotel opened in 1927, Moe was a steel guitar player in the hotel. He met his wife Rose Kaohu, she of Hawaiian ancestry, when she was a singer-dancer with Madame Riviere's Hawaiians that Tau and his uncles had joined. In 1928, Tau and Rose joined Madame Riviera in Manila and married shortly thereafter. By 1930 they had broken away to form The Tau Moe Family. Tau and Rose spent the next half century touring the world and raising their children Lani (born in Japan) and Dorian (born in India). Rose was afflicted with Alzheimer's disease in late life and died in 1998.

World War II

Son Lani (born in Japan 1929 - died in Honolulu 2002), a child celebrity in his time, had helped raise funds for a German orphanage charity and was selected to ride in Adolf Hitler's car during a parade.

The Moe family helped smuggle a friend's valuables out of Germany, partially by Rose wearing three fur coats and explaining to the border guards that people from Hawaii were not acclimated to the cold in Germany. Tau and Rose and family were very compassionate, helping Jews escape from Germany prior to World War II, by dressing them up in the Tau family's stage costumes. During one horrific event, when the family lived over a Jewish-owned bookstore, the Moe family were forced to be helpless witnesses when the Gestapo made a late-night raid burning the store's contents and eventually tossing the Jewish owners on top of the fire to be burned alive. The Gestapo had learned of the Moe family's underground efforts on behalf of the Jews and were in transit to arrest the family when, warned by friends, the family slipped out the stage back door and escaped.