New Zealand On Air gives $10K grant to teen te reo heavy metal band
They're one of the youngest metal bands in the world - and now they're one of the youngest, best-funded metal bands in the world.
NZ On Air shelled has out $10,000 to their youngest recipients ever: a teenage heavy metal band called Alien Weaponry.
The band - brothers Lewis de Jong, 13, Henry de Jong, 15, and Ethan Trembath, 13 - have a second distinct point of difference. They rock out in te reo.
The trio have been awarded the Making Tracks grant from NZ On Air to complete recording and produce their own video for their song, Ruana Te Whenua (The Trembling Earth).
The Maori Party's co-leader Marama Fox says she's "thrilled" for the boys' success.
"I'm absolutely thrilled (for them), they may not be to everybody's musical tastes, but they are someone's. Broadening the reach of te reo language is brilliant, among Maori and non-Maori," she said.
Claiming mixed pakeha and Maori descent, the boys say they have strong ties to the language and have "explored their own Maori ancestry".
They have branded their music "te reo metal".
"We actually went to te reo speaking schools," says 15-year-old Henry de Jong, the band's drummer.
"We've all actually got a bit of Maori ancestry. Not a lot, but dad has taught me a bit about it, he knows quite a bit about it. I'm actually finishing up my te reo homework right now."
The trio, who hail from Waipu, Northland, chose to sing in te reo ahead of competing in the Smokefree Pacifica Beats competition.
"We thought it'd be something different for us," de Jong says.
Despite the grant, it's unknown whether all te reo ambassadors or MPs would share the Maori Party co-leader's sentiments.
Former All Black Byron Kelleher was slammed in August of this year for using Maori culture to attract punters to his French pub.
Dubbed Haka corner, the sports bar in his new city of Toulouse was deemed offensive by Minister for Maori Development Te Ururoa Flavell, and the Maori Language Commission, which accused Kelleher of "piggy-backing off Maori culture".
De Jong says opting to belt out head-banging, heavy metal rock songs in te reo is not "culturally insensitive".
"We're not capitalising at all," says de Jong. "It's our Whanau, our family tree. Our songs are about our family history, our great-grandfather, who was killed by British soldiers. We're not capitalising on the language or culture at all."
As for Alien Weaponry being deemed offensive by the Maori Party co-leader, "hell no," says Fox.
"There are young Maori expressing themselves and non-Maori expressing themselves, it's awesome, it's about identifying with te reo and it's brilliant, it's welcomed."
Alien Weaponry are recording their debut album with Shihad drummer Tom Larkin.