Kings, Shapeshifter, Bic Runga and more perform their biggest songs in Te Reo for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori 2019

Written by on August 5, 2019

To celebrate the upcoming Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori 2019 (Sep 9-13) and to coincide with the 20-year anniversary of Hinewehi Mohi first performing the New Zealand National Anthem in Te Reo Māori at an All Blacks game, some of Aotearoa’s biggest artists have come together to sing their biggest songs in Te Reo Māori.

The theme for Māori Language Week this year is Kia Kaha Te Reo Māori, ‘Let’s make the Māori language strong’. Mohi acknowledges that each step we take, whether in learning or in embracing music in Te Reo Māori, makes the language stronger.

At a sold-out Twickenham, before a quarterfinals match with England, Hinewehi Mohi dropped the English words to ‘God Defend New Zealand’ and sung only in te reo Māori. Mohi had performed ‘E Ihowa Atuā’ at netball and league games before, but it was the first time the song had been tied so closely to the All Blacks – and all without permission from the powers that be.

Back home in New Zealand, the feedback was overwhelmingly negative and Mohi was forced to defend herself, and Te Reo Māori, in the media. This proved to be a turning point, sparking a national conversation about our cultural identity and the first language of Aotearoa New Zealand. Today, New Zealanders all over the country proudly sing the national anthem in both English and Te Reo Māori. 20 years on, she has decided to mark that anniversary not by remembering the controversy, but by celebrating how far we’ve come.

UNITED KINGDOM – OCTOBER 06: All Blacks Carl Hoeft, left, Byron Kelleher and Glen Osborne with New Zealand singer Hinewehi Mohi. (Photo by Ross Setford/Getty Images)

Recorded over 10 weeks in 2019, Mohi worked directly with artists in the studio to guide their intonation and understanding of the new Māori lyrics, with translations assisted by Sir Tīmoti Kāretu, one of our greatest living Māori orators and language proponents. Mohi asked Sir Tīmoti because she knew his involvement would elevate the mana of the project and give the artists confidence in the words they were singing.

Tami Neilson

The result – 11 of New Zealand’s best loved artists performing their hit songs in Te Reo Māori, as well as an acknowledgement of ‘Aotearoa’ with a vibrant rendition by the renowned Hātea Kapa Haka.

WAIATA / ANTHEMS is set for release on the 6th of September and is available for pre-order.

Track Listing:
Hātea Kapa Haka – Aotearoa / God Defend New Zealand
Six60 – Kia Mau Ki tō Ūkaipō / Don’t Forget Your Roots
Stan Walker – Tēnā Rā Koe / Thank You
Benee – Kua Kore He Kupu / Soaked
Drax Project – I Moeroa / Woke Up Late
Shapeshifter – Ngā Kano / In Colour
Kings – Kei Aro Atu Koe / Don’t Worry Bout’ It
Tiki Taane – Kei Tōku Ngākau Nei Koe / Always On My Mind
Sons of Zion – Pōtere Ana / Drift Away
Bic Runga – Haere Mai Rā / Sway
Teeks – E Kore E Wehe / Never Be Apart
Tami Neilson – Roimata / Cry Myself To Sleep

Check out some snippets of the tracks:

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