Te Wiki o te reo Māori: our five favourite waiata in te reo video

The Patea Maori club perform Poi E - one of the greatest NZ songs of all time.

The Patea Maori club perform Poi E - one of the greatest NZ songs of all time.

Maori music isn't all about Ten Guitars, kapa haka and poi.

As part of Te Wiki o te reo Maori, our entertainment reporters compiled our top favourite waiata - i te reo Māori

Ranging from traditional to nationalistic to 80s disco party, we've sourced some beautiful tunes that for hit all the right notes and all the right beats.

As for the beautiful lyrics that go with them, well how could you not be moved by our national language. Tell us your favourite songs in the comments below.

READ MORE: Our complete music coverage


Our national anthem is a fairly bog standard colonial affair, flavoured with British bombast and Imperialistic pomp. 

It was written in 1875 by Thomas Braken, an Irish-born Kiwi with politician with poetical ambitions. 

Braken's lyrics are all well and good - they're where we get the uncharacteristically arrogant term God's Own to describe our homeland - but they are transformed into something truly magical when rendered in te reo. 

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E Ihowā Atua was translated in 1978, possibly as a way to encourage nationalistic feeling in the tangata whenua, by TS Smith. It's not a direct translation - some of the more bombastic sentiments are alien to te reo. But it does have a sense of spirituality the English entirely lacks. 

Sung as a solo, as it is in the clip above, it takes on the solemnity of karakia, or the tenderness of a love song: 

Āta whakarongona, Me aroha noa, Kia hua ko te pai. Listen to us, cherish us, let goodness flourish. - Kylie Klein-Nixon


There was lots to like about Poi E: The rather brave blend of traditional tunes and 80s disco (and that breakdancing). The way it took Māori music worldwide (it did well in the UK). The noble social goals behind the song.

But most of all, it's transcendent ability to deliver some cultural lessons to a wider audience. And it was a bangin' tune. - Steve Kilgallon


I love the simplicity and the sounds in this song. Bring back Moana and the Moa Hunters!

Their album got blasted on repeat in our household growing up. The beautiful, haunting harmonies, sporadic sounds of birds with the constant poi beat allows me to feel grounded.

A great song to teach children, the original karakia (prayer) talks about nature: ​Tīhore mai te rangi/ tīhore mai / mao mao mao te ua / whiti mai te rā / mao mao mao te ua / whiti mai te rā  - Clear up sky / clear up / stop stop stop rain / come out sun / stop stop stop rain / come out sun. - Dani McDonald


My favourite Maori waiata has to be Tutira Mai Ngā Iwi, if only because it's one of the few to which I know all the words - and in fact I'd even go so far as to wager that more New Zealanders know the words to Tutira Mai than know the Māori verses of our national anthem!

The many opportunities for enthusiastic ad-libbing are also a bonus - I always insert an extra 'Aue!' or three throughout when I sing it. Finally, there's the nostalgia value - I simply can't remember a time when I haven't known this song.

Having sung it since my earliest primary school days, wherever I am it always reminds me of home. - Shaun Bamber


Maisey Rika - Tangaroa Whakamautai

Maisey Rika's voice is as smooth as butter. Listen to it and you'll want to fall asleep on a hammock on a Pacific Island with a warm breeze drifting over you.

The song is an acknowledgement to Tangaroa, the God of the Sea, and his power. It's one of my favourite songs to listen to on a Sunday - soft and easy, especially if the sun is streaming through a windy Wellington day. 

With more than 2 million views on Youtube, Rika's song has received comments from all around the world. A beautiful video clip to match. - Dani McDonald



 - Stuff


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