Annie Crummer celebrates the evolution of te reo Māori in NZ music

By Kayne Ngātokowhā Peters

Annie Crummer in the Waiata Anthems docu-series by Raukatauri Productions and Notable Pictures.

Award-winning singer-songwriter Annie Crummer says she is proud to see the music industry in Aotearoa embracing te reo Māori.

Crummer has just released her first reo Māori song, Hina Ki Tai, as a part of the new Waiata Anthems docu-series.

Hina Ki Tai is the reo Māori version of her waiata, Ocean Moon, which she released in 2010,

Crummer says the latest rendition incorporates the use of te reo Māori as well as her own mother tongue - Cook Islands Māori.

"In my original version of Ocean Moon, I did sing a Cook Island verse in there," she says.

"So this version of Hina Ki Tai, it's kind of bilingual because we've got te reo Māori and the Cook Island Māori in there as well."

Evolution of te reo Māori

Crummer's career has spanned more than three decades and she has seen the hard work by many music artists to get the Māori language to the point it is at today.

"We have evolved so much," she says.

"I remember when Language came out back in the early nineties. And I think there was Moana Maniapoto singing in te reo Māori."

Crummer says, "it was quite a push for us to let everyone see what we were actually doing. Now of course it's just evolved really quickly. And I think it's pretty cool to be brown."

Moana and The Moahunters released their first single AEIOU in 1991 and then their album Tahi n 1993, which received critical acclaim. In 2019, the group received the Independent Music NZ (IMNZ) Classic Record Award for the album.

In 1992, Annie Crummer released her title album Language and was awarded Best Female Artist at the New Zealand Music Awards in 1993.

Language by Annie Crummer. 1992.

Waiata Anthems

Crummer's new song, Hine Ki Tai, is a part of the kaupapa led by Hinewehi Mohi, celebrating te reo Māori through Waiata Anthems.

Following on from the Waiata Anthems album which debuted in 2019 and reached the No 1 slot in the country, a docuseries following seven of the artists has been produced by Notable Pictures and Raukatauri Productions.

Along with Melowdownz, the Māori Television series features Drax Project, Katchafire’s Logan Bell, Bic Runga, Che Fu, Annie Crummer, Hollie Smith and Don McGlashan.

Each episode tracks the artist's path, through the origin of the song to its translation into te reo Māori - exploring how the waiata came to be.

Each episode then ends with a powerful live performance.

Kiwi Grooves

Crummer has now teamed up with Che Fu, Ardijah and Herbs for a touring show called Kiwi Grooves.

She says, "We're kind of veterans, you know, been around a long time and we know that when we sing our waiata for the iwi they really appreciate it.

"I think they sort of remember, where they used to be. And they all sing along. It's fantastic."

Kiwi Grooves is on in Rotorua this Friday, May 6, and Ōtautahi this Saturday, May 7.