Maori Waiata (Music):

Re-Writing and Re-Righting the Indigenous Experience


Title: Ann Clements


    Ann C. Clements, Associate Professor of Music Education, The Pennsylvania State University





Abstract: This article examines the role of music in Maori culture and the ways music works to create meaning for Maori people. The article also provides an overview of Maori history and its context within New Zealand.


Keywords: Music, Maori, communication, indigenous experience, New Zealand, oral tradition, Polynesia

doi: 10.18113/P8ik159884




Kei a te Po te timatatanga o te waiatatanga mai a te Atua.

Ko te Ao, ko te Ao marama, ko te Ao turoa.


It was in the night that the gods sang the world into existence.

From the world of light, into the world of music.


Maori are the indigenous people of Aotearoa (island of the long white cloud) or New Zealand. According to Maori mythology, as soon as the gods turned night into light, they turned light into music. As life began, it brought with it the complexities of the lived experience that are most easily and adequately expressed through music.  All Maori waiata (songs) stem from the emotions that the gods displayed during creation. “There are songs of sorrow, anger and lament; of loneliness, desire and joy; of peace and love” (Flintoff 2004, 12).


These aesthetic attributes of music echo its functions and uses globally. Humans use music to define, represent, symbolize, and unify, or disrupt community or dialogue. Music is an expression of a human’s social, political, spiritual, and self and group identity. It connects individuals to their humanity, to others, to the natural world, and to the supernatural world. Within Maori culture, music plays all of these roles—from its imperative position in tapu (sacred) ritual to its unifying task in the creation and structure of group identity. Music is a primary social adhesive that has sustained Maori culture and heritage for hundreds of years.


He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!


What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people!


While the exact date that the Maori discovered Aotearoa is debatable, it is largely believed that they arrived on the islands just prior to and during the thirteenth century. Originating in Eastern Polynesia, they navigated a long voyage in the open Pacific. Their large waka (canoes) were guided by expert navigators who used ocean currents, the winds, and stars to find their way. The ancestors sailed on vessels such as Te Arawa, Tainui, Takitimu, Mamari, Horouta, and many others. These vessel names live on as the names of the iwi, or tribal groupings with which Maori associate themselves genealogically.


Many Maori can trace their family whakapapa (genealogy) back to the specific navigator and waka from which they are descended. “During the voyage they displayed remarkable powers overcoming many dangers, and on their arrival they introduced valuable resources such as the kumara (sweet potato) and karaka tree” (Flintoff 2004, 12).Over several centuries in relative isolation, these Polynesian settlers developed a unique language (Te Reo Maori), a rich mythology, distinctive crafts, and complex performing arts.


While many modern Maori take pride in the collective name “Maori,” which is loosely translated as “natural” or “common,” it is important to recognize that Maori were not a united indigenous population until colonization when non-Maori settlers, or Pakeha, called for a distinction between the indigenous population and the Europeans.  “Aotearoa existed in Maori oral tradition, of course, but its pre-European inhabitants defined themselves by tribe rather than race. The word Maori was an introduced, written concept” (Ihimaera 2000, 10). Tribal affiliation, when known, still plays a dominant role in genealogical self-identity.


The first European explorer to sight New Zealand was Abel Tasman on December

13, 1642, but he was unable to come ashore because of the “hostile natives” (Wilson 2013). Captain James Cook, who reached New Zealand in October of 1769 on the first of his three voyages, was the first European able to negotiate with the Maori, allowing him to circumnavigate and map New Zealand (Cook). From the late eighteenth century forward, explorers and other sailors, missionaries, traders, whalers, and sealers arrived, with the largest wave of settlers arriving in the earliest decades of the nineteenth century. For many inland Maori there was limited cultural disruption or change at this time beyond the appearance of new goods. For the coastal Maori, however, change was occurring at an unprecedented speed, particularly due to the introduction of the musket and the conversion of many Maori to Christianity.


In 1840, Maori chieftains entered into a compact with Britain in the Treaty of Waitangi in which they ceded sovereignty to Queen Victoria of Great Britain while retaining territorial rights. Also in 1840, the British established the first organized colonial settlement. A series of land wars between 1843 and 1872 ended with the defeat of the Maori. The British colony of New Zealand became an independent dominion in 1907 and supported the United Kingdom militarily in both World Wars.


The Treaty of Waitangi, while often viewed as the founding document of the New Zealand government, is highly controversial and remains a central point of discontentment between the Maori and the New Zealand government. A point of great contention is that the treaty was actually three separate documents, which differed significantly between the English and Maori versions. This lack of clarity, if not trickery according to some Maori, has led to great strife between Maori and Non-Maori citizens. Many Maori believe the crown has not fulfilled its obligations within the treaty, and many non-Maori have suggested that some Maori are using the treaty to gain special privileges. In recent years, the government has sought to address longstanding Maori grievances stemming back to the Treaty of Waitangi. To help rectify this, the Waitangi Tribunal was established in 1975. It has ruled on a number of claims brought by Maori iwi (tribes) and granted compensation in many cases (“Treaty of Waitangi”).


Today, New Zealand is home to over 4.4 million people. According to data from a recent national census, approximately 71 percent of New Zealanders identify themselves as being of European descent, with just over 14 percent identifying as Maori (“CIA Facebook – New Zealand” 2014). The remaining people primarily identify themselves as being of Asian and Pacific descent. A disproportionate number of Maori face significant economic and social obstacles. With lower life expectancies and incomes compared with other New Zealand ethnic groups, they face higher levels of crime, health problems, and educational under-achievement (“Maori ‘Extreme Disadvantage’ – UN Report” 2011).Socioeconomic-based initiatives have been implemented aimed at closing the gap between the Maori and other New Zealanders.

Imperialism and Colonization


For the Maori, imperialism frames the indigenous experience (Tuhiwai Smith 1999, 19). It is part of their narrative and of their modernity. Maori language, knowledge, and culture were interrupted, silenced, misrepresented, ridiculed (even condemned), and radically reformulated by it. Like other indigenous peoples, Maori have had to develop the language, literature, and arts to negotiate this altered existence. “Imperialism still hurts, still destroys, and is reforming itself constantly. Indigenous peoples as an international group have had to challenge, understand, and have a shared language for talking about the history, the sociology, the psychology and the politics of imperialism and colonization as an epic story telling of huge devastation, painful struggle and persistent survival” (Tuhiwai Smith 1999, 19). This common language often used by indigenous peoples revolves around the concepts of self-determination and sovereignty, however neither term fully considers the unending reign of imperialism, nor do they consider that decolonization is a process that must engage consistently with imperialism and colonization (Tuhiwai Smith 1999, 19).


One of the most degrading attributes of imperialism for the Maori is the idea that they, as indigenous people, were not considered to be fully human. “Imperialism provided the means through which concepts of what counts as human could be applied systematically as forms of classification systems, for example through hierarchies of race and typologies of different societies” (Tuhiwai Smith 1999, 25). For generations, Maori assentation of humanity has been a consistent struggle and is widely apparent in anti-colonial dialogue and practice. Imperialism and colonialism brought turmoil and disarray to Maoriness, disconnecting them from their histories, their landscapes, their languages, their social relations and ecology, and their own ways of thinking, feeling, and interacting with the world. This deconstruction makes it impossible to fully reclaim what once was and it requires creative combinations of the past and the present to envision their collective future.


Just as Maori mythology states that the world came into being through song, music is filling the vital role of defining Maoridom in the modern age. Maori traditional culture has always been retained through music, and the Maori cultural resurgence of today is being constructed through music.  Music and arts are the basis of humanity, and thus are among the best tools for recalling and maintaining collective history, teaching future generations cultural knowledge, developing pride and collective identity, propelling advocacy and awareness, fighting against unjust practices, and for envisioning the future. For the Maori, music and dance are parts of their everyday life and are their way of advancing their culture into the future. Modern Maori musical practice has two primary intentions: re-writing and re-righting1 the Maori story (Tuhiwai Smith 1999, 28).


Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi.


With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive.


—Maori Proverb


While there is a large variety of musical styles specific to purpose in Maori culture,2 this article will provide a sample of five Maori waiata (songs) that are specific to re-writing and re-righting the Maori narrative.  The presentation of these waiata is organized using terminology developed by Dr. Linda Tuhiwai Smith in her landmark text Decoloninizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. Dr. Smith’s terms -- celebrating survival, claiming, remembering, reframing, and envisioning -- were selected for this purpose as they place the indigenous experience, including stories, lessons, teachings, and visions for the future, above imperialism-based western paradigms (Tuhiwai Smith 1999).





Celebrating Survival


“Celebrating survival accentuates not so much our [indigenous peoples’] demise but the degree to which indigenous peoples and communities have successfully retained culture and spiritual values, and authenticity. Events and accounts which focus on the positive are important not just because they speak to our survival, but because they celebrate our resistances at an ordinary human level and they affirm our identities as indigenous women and men” (Tuhiwai Smith 1999, 145).


The stories of Maori survival are both individual and collective. Told through narratives, song, dance, and visual arts, they are important because they remind people that despite hardships and change, Maoriness as a cultural identity will remain. It also serves to remind future generations of their connection to the past and of the sacrifices made by previous generations that pave the way for their collective future.


E kore au e ngaro, he kākano i ruia mai i Rangiātea.

I shall never be lost, a seed scattered from Rangiatea.


This proverb reminds Maori that they play a part in their long history and coming future.  Kākano, meaning seed, conveys growth, development, and expansion. Even before a seed is planted or nourished, it has inherent promise. It has the capability to take root, develop, grow, and blossom. Like a seed, Maori are inextricably linked to the generations who have gone before them and those that are yet to come. “He Kākano comes from somewhere, it belongs to someone or something, and it cannot be isolated or detached from those connections. It has both history and potential. He Kākano reminds us of the opportunity we have to make new beginnings, to plant, to nurture, to cherish, to realize potential, to grow and enhance that which is. He Kākano is a symbol of productivity and the promise of success through learning and achievement” (RUIA School-whanau Partnerships).


The song “Born of Greatness,” composed by Hohepa Tamehana in 2001, is based upon the He Kākano proverb. It was originally written for the Manu-ti-oriori Show, a Māori “pop idol” type program, established in that same year with the intention of forming a pop quartet of talented, positive young Maori role models who were fluent in speaking Te Reo Maori, as well as singing in it. Two videos of the song “Born of Greatness” can be found here.


Video one is the song as it was performed on the Manu-tioriori Show (2001). Video two is an example of the song being sung informally at a Hui (social gathering). This song remains popular among young people and is frequently used in school settings.


Figure 1. Lyrics for “Born of Greatness,” Hohepa Tamehana, 2001:

Translation from


He kākano āhau
I ruia mai i Rangiātea
And I can never be lost
I am a seed, born of greatness
Descended from a line of chiefs,
He kākano āhau

I am a seed
Scattered from Rangiatea
And I can never be lost
I am a seed, born of greatness
Descended from a line of chiefs,
I am a seed.

Ki hea rā āu e hītekiteki ana
Ka mau tonu i āhau ōku tikanga
Tōku reo, tōku oho-oho,
Tōku reo, tōku māpihi maurea
Tōku whakakai marihi
My language is my strength,
An ornament of grace

Wherever I may roam
I will hold fast to my traditions.
My language is my cherished possession
My language is the object of my affection
My precious adornment
My language is my strength,
An ornament of grace

Ka tū ana āhau,
Ka ūhia au e ōku tīpuna
My pride I will show
That you may know who I am
I am a warrior, a survivor
He mōrehu āhau

Whenever I stand,
I am clothed by my ancestors
My pride I will show
That you may know who I am
I am a warrior, a survivor
I am a remnant

Ki hea rā āu e hītekiteki ana
Ka mau tonu i āhau ōku tikanga
Tōku reo, tōku oho-oho,
Tōku reo, tōku māpihi maurea
Tōku whakakai marihi
My language is my strength,
An ornament of grace

Wherever I may roam
I will hold fast to my traditions.
My language is my cherished possession
My treasured Tiger Shell
My precious ornament
My language is my strength,
An ornament of grace







“In a sense, colonialism has reduced indigenous peoples to making claims and assertions about our rights and dues… these ‘histories’ have a focus and a purpose, that is, to establish the legitimacy of the claims being asserted for the rest of time. Because they have been written to support claims to territories or resources or about past injustices, they have been constructed around selected stories” (Tuhiwai Smith, 143).


The following waita “E Pa To Hau” is a lament of the Ngati Apakura people. The Ngati Apakura lived in Rangiapwhia, near what is present day Te Awamutu, but were exiled south of Taupo (approximately 160 kilometers away) during the Waikato Land War of 1846. The Ngati Apakura were forced from their homes during the war and their holdings were confiscated by British troops, despite them being unarmed, undefended, and having had taken no part in the war at the time of the attack.

The composer of this song was likely Rangiamoa of Ngati Apakura and it was written lamenting the death of her cousin Te Wano, yet it remains a song of mourning for the fate of all her people and an oral record of stolen tribal homelands (“Historical Notes on Te Ao Hou” 1964). Waikato tribes often sing this at a variety of occasions, although it is intended for tangihanga, Maori funereal rites. A video performance of this waiata can be found here.


Figure 2. Lyrics for “E Pa To Hau” composed by Rangiamoa of Ngati Apakura

Translation from


E pā tō hau he wini raro,
He hōmai aroha
Kia tangi atu au i konei;
He aroha ki te iwi
Ka momotu ki tawhiti ki Paerau

Ko wai e kite atu?
Kei whea aku hoa i mua rā,
I te tōnuitanga?
Ka haramai tēnei ka tauwehe,
Ka raungaiti au, e.

The wind from the north touches me,
bringing loving memories
so that I mourn
in sorrow for my kin
lost to me in the world of spirits.

Where are they now?
Where are those friends of former days
who once lived in prosperity?
The time of separation has come,
Leaving me desolate.

E ua e te ua e tāheke
Koe i runga rā;
Ko au ki raro nei riringi ai
Te ua i aku kamo.

Moe mai, e Wano, i Tirau,
Te pae ki te whenua
I te wā tūtata ki te kāinga
Koua hurihia.

Tēnei mātou kei runga kei te
Toka ki Taupō,
Ka paea ki te one ki Waihi,
Ki taku matua nui,
Ki te whare kōiwi ki Tongariro.

E moea iho nei
Hoki mai e roto ki te puia
Nui, ki Tokaanu,
Ki te wai tuku kiri o te iwi
E aroha nei au, ī.

O sky, pour down rain
from above,
while here below, tears
rain down from my eyes.

O Wano, sleep on at Mt Titiraupenga
overlooking the land
near our village
that has been overturned.

Here we are beyond
the cliffs of western Lake Taupo,
stranded on the shore at Waihi,
near my great ancestor Te Heuheu Tukino
lying in his tomb on Mt Tongariro.

I dream of
returning to the hot springs
so famous, at Tokaanu,
to the healing waters of my people,
for whom I weep.





“The remembering of a people relates not so much to an idealized remembering of a golden past, but more specifically to the remembering of a painful past and, importantly, people’s responses to that pain. While collective indigenous communities can talk through the history of painful events, there are frequent silences and intervals in the stories about what happened after the event” (Tuhiwai Smith, 146).


Fortunately, with the ease of personalized music making and recording, the current generation of Maori are able to use music as a means to fill these silences, or gaps, after important modern events occur. The arts have become the keeper of not just large stories, as they have throughout the entire history of the Maori, but of smaller stories. Not only can they capture events and their outcomes, they can now easily capture the unique feelings and responses of the individuals who take part in these events. 

On April 22, 2004, hundreds of Maori gathered at Te Rerenga Wairua, north of Wellington, to begin what would become a historic foreshore and seabed hikoi (long walk, or, in this case, a walk of protest). Foreshore rights, the fertile land between high tide and low tide, have been an ongoing point of contention between Maori and the New Zealand government dating back to the Treaty of Waitangi, with both sides laying claim to ownership. The hikoi, organized and led by Hone Harawira, departed on a two-week journey to Parliament in Wellington. The march quickly took on a life of its own, building to more than ten thousand by the time it crossed the Auckland Harbor Bridge and eventually culminating with fifty thousand marching when it arrived at Parliament on May 5, 2004. Many believe that this march gave birth to the Maori Party, a newly organized political party, signifying the beginning of an independent voice for Maori in government.

For many young Maori the foreshore hikoi was one of the first and, perhaps, most impactful events of organized Maori protest within their lifetimes. The ease of music making, recording, and sharing allowed young Maori to record the event and their feelings about it through music that could be easily shared with the world via online streaming.  One such artist, who goes by the name Infinite Rensta, uploaded his remembering of this event to YouTube in a track titled “Hikoi 04.” His posting displays the following tagline: “The song was composed in memory of 2004 Hikoi Takutaemaona. A protest march which saw and estimated 40,000 people converge on New Zealand parliament from around the nation. The march was in protest against the illegal taking of New Zealand foreshore and seabed into crown ownership. In affect removing the right of Maori to use the court system. The march helped inspire other indigenous protest marches around the world. Track produced by Demo and the unknown kru, unknown studios, West Auckland” (Infinite Rensta 2009).


The official video can be found here.


In both Te Reo Maori and in English, this song tells the story from a street level perspective of being in the march, including the tribal leaders who led it, the Maori people who joined it as it progressed, and the paparazzi and local police who witnessed it firsthand. References are made to those who supported the cause, from other indigenous peoples around the world to the United Nations. It also contains connections to the history of Maori people from the nineteenth century onwards by asking if the New Zealand Government expects Maori to submit and then answering this question by referring to their long history as brave warriors.




“Reframing is about taking much greater control over the ways in which indigenous issues and social problems are discussed and handled. One of the reasons why so many of the social problems which beset indigenous communities are never solved is that the issues have been framed in a particular way…the framing of an issue is about making decisions about its parameters, about what is in the foreground, what is in the background, and what shading or complexities exist within the frame” (Tuhiwai Smith 1999, 153).

Not uncommon among indigenous populations, the misuse and abuse of alcohol remains a serious problem in many modern Maori communities. Maori did not have alcohol before the Europeans arrived and when they were introduced to it, most did not like it. It was called waipiro (stinking water), wai kaha (strong water), or, by the few who enjoy it, waipai (good water). A taste for alcohol was not acquired by significant numbers of Maori until the 1850s and once that had occurred many Maori leaders became concerned about the impact of alcohol on their communities, especially because it was used to dull the grief of Maori communities as they experienced high rates of death and loss of land. Binge drinking, which became common in the 1870s, often occurred in settler towns where social constraints were looser.  In the early twentieth century the first group of well-educated Maori doctors described drinking as a major social problem.


By the late twentieth century, average daily consumption of alcohol was the same for Maori and non-Maori, but the underlying pattern was different. “About a quarter of Maori did not drink alcohol at all, and those who did drink, did so less frequently than non-Maori. When Maori drank, however, they consumed more – in the late 1980s about twice as much at each drinking session. This dropped in the 2000s to about 40% more than non-Maori per session” (Cook 2014). The pattern of less frequent drinking sessions at which more is consumed has continued, but the number of non-drinking Maori has thankfully increased. Binge drinking is more likely to cause harm to the person doing it and those around them than more frequent, moderate drinking. These effects have been made worse by the age structure of the Maori population, half of whom are under thirty-five, an age group more likely to suffer alcohol-related harm. Maori are more than twice as likely to suffer severe alcohol-related problems, and four times as likely to die of a condition caused or made worse by alcohol (Cook 2014).

“Whakamutungia Tenei Mahi,” composed by E. Tu for the soundtrack (Grindlay and McNabb 1995) of the feature film entitled Once Were Warriors (Tamahori 1995), is a prime example of music being created and distributed to reframe the use of alcohol among Maori.


It can be heard here.


Sung in both Te Reo Maori and English, the song mixes Maori traditional protocols and language with descriptions of the modern problems associated with alcohol abuse, especially drunk driving. It reminds the listener that they are a part of a long and important familial history and that it is their responsibility to act as a responsible member of their tribe, if not for their own safety for the safety of others. It also tells the story of what happens when you are caught drunk driving, which includes separation from community and isolation in prison. The instrumental and vocal tracks are a haunting mixture of modern hip hop music and traditional waiata, which leads the listener to a place somewhere in between Maori history and Maori future.


We gotta get control of our destiny and we could, if we would like to truly be free. But we continue to be statistics of this society, and that’s a disgrace. More than a pity.

Alcohol ain’t all in this situation. We ain’t in control we been turned into patients. Sick behavior that’s against our nature, controlled alcohol that’s part of the savior.

What is this source, it’s called the alcohol. It’s a cure for people, tell me what is wrong? In society it should be a social mediator, but the way we use it is a life illuminator. (Grindlay and McNabb 1995)5




“One of the strategies which indigenous peoples have employed effectively to bind people together politically is a strategy which asks that people imagine a future, that they rise above present day situations which are general depressing, dream a new dream, and set a new vision. The confidence of knowing that we have survived and can only go forward provides some impetus to a process of envisioning” (Tuhiwai Smith 1999, 152).


“Whitiora (Release Your Light),” composed by Maisey Rika and recorded by Rika, Majic Paora, Ngatapa Black, Sidney Diamound, and Ruia Aperahama, represents a new, imagined future for Maori Youth.  Built upon the concepts of collaboration in performance, this track encourages Maori to remember where they come from mythological or time (the father sky and mother earth) and to stand together now as they look towards the future. The chorus states, “we stand for one, we stand for all, we stand together.” This waita is available in Te Reo Maori and in English.


Figure 3. Lyrics for “Whitiora” Composed by Rangiamoa of Ngati Apakura

Translation from http://maiseyrika.bandcamp.com6


E hoki ki tō maunga kia pūrea
E ngā hau o Tāwhirimātea
Ko Ranginui e tū nei
E takoto koe Papa
Ōu tamariki
Kia tau te aroha

Waiatatia te reo
Me ōna tikanga
Waiatatia te mana Tāne
Mana Wahine
Waiatatia ngā mokopuna
O te Ao hou
Hui kotahi
Hui katoa
Hui tonu rā

E whiti e te rā
Ngā whetū pīata
Whitiora e kanapa
E tīrama ana
Inā taumarutia te ao e te āwha
Whitiora e kanapa
E tīrama ana

Hangaia tōku waka
Hangaia mai anō
Hangaia mā te rātā
He taonga tuku nā Tāne
Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko ahau
Whenua, ora
Kia kotahi rā

Ei,Tākina atu ko te kawa nui
Ko te kawa roa
Ko te kawa tihei, tihei ngahuru mā ono
Hei whakawairea i tēnei whakaminenga
Oi e kia whakapūāki rangi kia wewerangi
Ki te rito o Rehua
Hūkere, hūkere ki a ihi
Ko te rite, ko te rite
Kia rite te rerenga o te hoe
Ko te hoe nā wai
Ko te waka nā wai
Tāpatupatua ka tapu te moana nui e

United we all stand
Divided we all plummet
When problems arise
Together we’ll overcome it
Understand that it’s easier
To rise above whatever
When the support is there for you
And yo we here for you
Hope for the best
But for the worst prepare for it
Use that thing inside your head
And keep it clear for it
Necessary to, in this day and age
If you wanna shine tomorrow
Gotta put in work today, let’s go

Inā taumarutia te ao e te āwha
Whitiora e kanapa, e tirama ana

Upon my mountain
I close my eyes
I feel the wind blow
Me back to life and
To you sky father
To mother earth
And all your children
We ask for peace
We ask for love

In every people
There’s a language
There’s a culture
In every woman
Every man
Is a teacher
In every child
In every land is our future
We stand for one
We stand for all
We stand together
We are the sun
We are the stars at night
We are the one
Release your light
And when the storm clouds over
Hold on tight
We are the one
Release your light ohh

Fashion my waka
With my own hand
Make it with a rāta
He taonga tuku nā Tāne (Gifts handed down from Tāne)
Follow the river
Throughout the land
Unite our people
Forever we will stand

United we all stand
Divided we all plummet
When problems arise
Together we’ll overcome it
Understand that it’s easier
To rise above whatever
When the support is there for you
And yo we here for you
Hope for the best
But for the worst prepare for it
Use that thing inside your head
And keep it clear for it
Necessary to, in this day and age
If you wanna shine tomorrow
Gotta put in work today, let’s go

And when the storm clouds over
Hold on tight
We are the one
Release your light



Ka mate te kāinga tahi, ka ora te kāinga rua.


When one house dies, a second lives.


To experience Maori music is to experience Maori culture. While the impacts of imperialism are irrevocable, Maori culture is as resilient as its arts. Through preservation of traditional musical practices and the development of new, modern forms of musical doing, new paths have begun to emerge that strengthen the connections from their ancient traditions to building a foundation for a successful, collective future. By celebrating Maori survival through re-writing, remembering and claiming in waiata, Maori have the ability to teach future generations the importance of their past, which will lead to a deeper and stronger understanding of current identity. By reframing problems as shared solutions and working collaboratively to re-right injustices, they will envision a brighter future for all Maori. Music is so imminently tied to who the Maori are that, beautifully, it serves to both sustain culture and to propel them into their future.


*  *  *


To view Dr. Clements’ ICIK seminar on Maori music, visit the ICIK website.





1 The terms re-writing and re-righting appear in Ibid on page 28. These terms are used are used beyond the definitions within the text and applied to music and the arts.


2 For example, Ann C. Clements, “Spirit and Song of the Maori,” The Choral Journal, 55 (2), (2014): 18-24.

3 “Born of Greatness,” New Zealand Folk Song, accessed on August 13, 2015.

4 “E Pa To Hau.” New Zealand Folk Song, accessed on August 13, 2015.

5 Grindlay and McNabb, Once Were Warriors Soundtrack, lyric location 4:07 – 4:25.


6 “Whitiora” by Maisey Rika on accessed August 15, 2015,







“Born of Greatness,” New Zealand Folk Song, accessed on August 13, 2015.

“CIA Facebook – New Zealand,” New Zealand - The World Factbook, last modified 2014, accessed May 8, 2014.

Cook, James. Cook’s Endeavour Journal, 1768-1771. National Library of Australia.

Cook, Megan. 2014. “Maori Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs.” In Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Accessed on August 14, 2015.

“E Pa To Hau.” New Zealand Folk Song, accessed on August 13, 2015.

Flintoff, Brian. (2004) 2005. Monga Puoro Singing Treasures the Musical Instruments of the Maori. Reprint, Nelson, New Zealand: Craig Potton Publishing.

Grindlay, Murray, and Murray McNabb. 1995. Once Were Warriors Soundtrack. Milan Records.  

“Historical Notes on Te Ao Hou.” 1964. National Library of New Zealand.

Ihimaera, Witi. 2000. Where’s Waari?. Auckland, New Zealand: Reed Publishing.

“Maori ‘Extreme Disadvantage’ – UN Report.” 2011. New Zealand Herald, February 22, 2011.

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