New 2021 Waiata Anthems project launches next week

By Jessica Tyson

Next week the largest number of artists singing in te reo Māori in one collection of waiata will be released as a part of Waiata Anthems Week.

It builds on the momentum of the successful 2019 Waiata Anthems album, which saw songs by Six60, Benee, Stan Walker and others re-recorded in te reo Māori.

The creator, Dame Hinewehi Mohi, says Waiata Anthems Week is about the continuing celebration of te reo Māori, using the power of pop music to increase its reach to all of Aotearoa.

“We want to create a bilingual music industry that everyone feels that they have a very special part in playing to create a landscape where Māori music is a part of every one of us and it helps as a platform for te reo Māori, it helps the artist access the language and culture and enriches the whole of Aotearoa in the way that we can express ourselves and our unique cultural identity.”

More than two dozen established and emerging artists will release music as part of Waiata Anthems Week, including Paige, Sons of Zion, Georgia Lines, Tomorrow People, Troy Kingi, Louis Baker and Anna Coddington.

These songs join the already released Pepeha by Six60 and Ko Te Hīnātoretanga by Hollie Smith and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

'Life-changing' for artists

“It really is just such a treat to be able to share this music and to have the largest number of artists singing in te reo Māori or bilingually in one collection of waiata, so mauri ora to that!”

Mohi says the music industry has really embraced the idea of “representing our cultural heritage, our identity as New Zealanders that is diverse, rich and beautiful”.

For many of the artists involved in Waiata Anthems Week, it was their first time recording a song in te reo Māori and “they feel liberated”, Mohi says.

“It’s been life-changing for them, so it's exciting to support artists through this with expertise from matanga reo who really feel a deep responsibility to maintain our language and it is a celebrating that we can all share in.”

The songs will be released digitally next week through music platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, and Youtube. Youtube will have music lyric videos available for people to learn the lyrics correctly and sing along with the artists.