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Tuesday, 26 March 2019 07:59 am

NZ’s Got Talent star and students create waiata for te reo week

TELEVISION STAR Tawaroa Kāwana is working with Whitireia music students and the Māori Language Commission to produce a simple waiata for non-te reo speakers to celebrate Māori Language Week.

Mr Kāwana, with help from his whānau (Rangitāne ki Wairarapa), composed Arohatia tō reo, which means “Love your language”.

The waiata will be part of the official launch to the 38th anniversary of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, (Māori Language Week), which began in 1975.


NZ’S GOT TALENT: Tawaroa Kāwana

Whitireia musicians from a variety of backgrounds – Samoan, Cook Islands, Pākehā and Māori, contributed to the project and are looking forward to the waiata’s launch on July 1.Tuhan Tauira on bass, Ben Casbolt on drums, Lee Pryor on keyboard and Eli Rōpata on guitar. Roimata Neilsen, Chad Va, Īhaka Tūkapua and Rose Hanify as back up vocals.

Gareth Seymour (Ngāti Hikairo), of the Māori Language Commission (Te Taurawhiri i te reo Māori), says the commission thought there was no better way to bring people and communities together than music and language.

“We wanted to put together a waiata that would tautoko (support) Māori language week and to reach out to rangatahi (youth),” says Mr Seymour.

“It’s everybody’s reo. It’s the reo taketake (indigenous) language of Aotearoa. We take a week to celebrate our reo from July 1st,” he says.

Giving it a go, “Ngā ingoa Māori (Māori names)”, is this year’s theme. Helping people say  Māori names and place names correctly is the focus.

Whitireia Polytechnic spokesman Tama Kirikiri (Te Whānau-a-Apanui) says: Te Taurawhiri saw his [Mr Kāwana’s] popularity among Māori rangatahi.

“He’s a musician. He’s able to compose beautiful waiata, which Te Taurawhiri is hoping will carry their message. To more than just those of us who arohatia te reo already,” Mr Kirikiri says.

“The fact that he has been to kura (school), from kōhanga reo right though to kura kaupapa Māori marries well with what Te Taurawhiri was after.”

Whitireia lecturer in band studies Gloria Hildred says the students on this project are getting to do stuff that we are training them for in the real world.

“The students were given the music to learn that morning. They are on the seat of their pants, including Tawaroa, says Ms Hildred.


SOLID BACKING: Eli Rōpata, left, and Tuhan Tauira

“He hadn’t heard what had been done with his song yet in terms of arrangement and how the instrumentation would be put together. Last I checked, he was rapt with what we were doing,” she says. Whitireia staff member John O’Connor and student Jake Foster engineered the recording. Phil Hornblow, another Whitireia staff member, took care of the music arrangement.Backing vocalist Roimata Neilsen (Whakatōhea, Te Whānau-a-Apanui) is thrilled to be doing something so close to her roots.

“Being at Whitireia doing music I’m not exposed to Māori music. I miss it. Being a part of this has really gotten me back into my Māori. It’s really cool. I love it.”

Mr Kāwana also loves his te reo, and is proud to have composed this waiata.

“I was really keen because te reo is my first language. I love my reo.

“I had to speak Māori at home, in town, to all my friends. I started to learn English at high school.

“The song is about encouraging people to learn te reo. Talk it, sing it and love it. That’s what the title is for.

“I want my language to be noticed and respected. It was the first language here in Aotearoa New Zealand. I think it should be the main language,” he says.

L-R: Chad Va, Īhaka Tūkapua, Roimata Neilsen and Rose Hanify.

ON SONG: From left, Chad Va, Īhaka Tūkapua, Roimata Neilsen and Rose Hanify.


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is Born in Wellington, exported to the Te Nehenehenui by my Nanni. Now working as a Native for the betterment of society.
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