Celebrating the unique dialect of the East Coast

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Rob Ruha and Ria Hall have joined forces to take their show Behind The Lines around the country.  

Ruha spoke with Te Kāea about writing songs in Māori- with a point of difference.

“To me they are the cloaks that show I am Ngāti Porou, I am Hikurangi, I am Apanui, I am the Raukokore River, and when you see those cloaks you know that boy is from the East Coast.”

Ruha weaves distinct words into his music that he heard growing up on the East Coast, such as 'sānana' and 'kalega'.

Here at home, kalega is a popular slang term with it's many different variations: 'kaleg, legaleg, chowlega, churlega'. 

Regardless of how it's used it originated from a Māori concept of 'pleasing'.

Ruha strives to follow the footsteps of the great composers of the East Coast such as Tuini Ngawai, Ngoi Pewhairangi, through to the composers of today such as Rikirangi Gage, Derek Lardelli and Kuini Moehau Reedy.

"To go straight to the stomach and stimulate critical thinking, or to ease the burdens, or to challenge people to pay attention to the issues among their own people, that's what Tuini (Ngāwai) did."

Ruha says it's about the inter-generational transmission of language and identity.

 “For my children to see the uniqueness of the East Coast, our own language our own customs and our own way of thinking.”

Ruha will be performing works in the Behind The Lines tour alongside Ria Hall and band The Witch Dr. throughout October and November.