Bic Runga calls for more artists to make music in Māori

By Kayne Ngātokowhā Peters

Bic Runga says more music artists should join the reo Māori movement in making the music industry bilingual.

After releasing her latest reo Māori song, Kaore He Wā, Runga says she knows the power of te reo Māori and she feels empowered to play her part in making te reo Māori more prominent in the music industry.

"I just feel like I really need to be a part of this. I've been around for a long time and it's breathed a new life into my own personal love of waiata," she says.

Runga had her award-winning hit Sway translated into te reo Māori as a part of the Waiata Anthems album, which debuted in 2019. 

She has now released her second reo Māori song Kaore He Wā, as a part of a Waiata Anthems docuseries following Runga and six other artists.

Waiata Anthems docu-series by Raukatauri Productions and Notable Pictures.


Waiata Anthems docu-series

Produced by Hinewehi Mohi, the Waiata Anthem docu-series features Bic Runga, Drax Project, Katchafire’s Logan Bell, Bic Runga, Che Fu, Annie Crummer, Hollie Smith and Don McGlashan.

Mohi says the Waiata Anthems kaupapa is empowering more and more music artists to normalise te reo Māori in their work.

"Na tēnei, ka whakahau te tangata ki te whai i tēnei kaupapa mō te reo Māori. Ki te waiata i te reo Māori. He kaupapa tino nunui mō ngā tāngata, pērā ki a Bic, ki a Melodownz, koutou katoa kaore anō kua tino hono ki tērā taha. Engari na te waiata ka pūawai te tangata. Nā reira he kaupapa tino nui tēnei."

(Because of this project, it is motivating the artist to be a part of the Māori language, to sing in the Māori language. It is a big task for all the artists, like Bic, like Meldownz, all of those who are still connecting to that sides of themselves. And through song, they are blossoming. So this project is huge). 

"Na te tino pai o te reo, te tino tika o te reo, ka rongo te tangata ki te ātaahua, ki te rangi, me te whakatakotoranga o ngā kupu. Na tērā, ka ako ki ngā kupu hou me ngā rārangi kōrero. Na tērā ka whakahau te tangata, ka whakakaha te tangata ki te whai i tēnei kaupapa ki te ako i te reo Māori." 

(When the language is right and correct, then people can hear its beauty, its melody and how words should be placed. When new words and sentences are introduced. It motivates people, it encourages them to learn the Māori language).

Waiata Anthems docu-series by Raukatauri Productions and Notable Pictures.


Runga pushes for te reo

Runga says she is still learning te reo Māori but, regardless of the challenges, she is not holding back.

"It's been good to get stuck into this kind of stuff. But it's really out of my comfort zone," she says.

"Hinewehi is really trying to make a bilingual music industry here in New Zealand and that just means that anyone who is in the music industry needs to be a part of it and help.

"So that's the attitude we have on this. So I'm just here to serve Hinewehi's vision and be a part of it.

"I think this bilingual music industry that we're working toward is just about normalising the language in a pop music context.

"I mean it's really happening but you've got to keep pushing."

The song Kaore He Wā is now available everywhere. And the new docu-series Waiata Anthems will be on Māori TV later this year.