Album of songs will celebrate 50 years of Te Matatini

By Herewini Waikato

Songs that epitomise 50 years of Te Matatini will be recorded in an album marking the 50th anniversary of the national kapa haka competition in 2022.

A select group of 20 senior performers from kapa haka around the country will contribute to the album.

Fifty songs will be grouped into three sections: Matakāinga featuring a song from each of the 13 rohe, Matatoa, a revival of past favourites, and Matakōkiri, a rendition of well-known kapa haka songs.  

The album’s musical director Rob Ruha put performers through their paces at a weekend wānanga in Rotorua.  

“You won’t hear a Waihīrere sound, Waka Huia, Whāngārā or any other group. But you will hear a vibrant and new sound that will help elevate the Māori language,” he said.

Ricky Mitai of Ōpōtiki Mai Tawhiti said he looked forward to hearing some renowned favourites.

“The songs that aren’t heard much anymore. I want to learn about each song's history.”

Erena Koopu of Tauira Mai Tawhiti was looking forward to working with Rob.

“Not just for songwriting but also for the composition, notes, words ... giving an understanding behind the writers to bring out a song’s beauty and its raw emotions.”

Waihirere matriarch Tangiwai Ria says past ‘giants’ of kapa haka will be pleased with the result.

“Honestly it’s amazing, amazing! Wait until you hear it,” she said. “I just love sitting back now and watching all these young people become just as empowered as the rest of us have been … to step aside and think wow! Things are okay in the world of haka.”

Recording begins in Wellington next month with the first 11 songs. The album will be released in October.