New te reo waiata addresses inequalities caused by colonisation

By Jessica Tyson

Troy Kingi and band The Nudge have teamed up to create a new waiata in te reo Māori called He Ōrite.

Kingi says the translation is of He Ōrite is “the same” and is about how all people are all equal. The waiata was written last year when the Black Lives Matter movement started after the death of George Floyd.

“The essence of it, you’re a human being, I’m a human being, we’re all human beings- why do we need to have people at different ranks because of the colour of their skin, because of how much money they’ve got, because of where they live,” Kingi says.

The waiata also addresses the inequalities experienced by Māori in Aotearoa due to colonisation, he says.

“What’s happening right now is directly a byproduct of colonisation. Looking at the number of Māori in prisons and on the benefit or all the bad statistics that are up against Māori right now come directly from what’s happened to us in the past,” says Kingi.

He says the biggest change needed is for people to “recognise our history”.

“It happened and it's part of who we are, good and bad so just recognising it and not trying to pretend that it never happened.”

Kingi leads the vocal in He Ōrite alongside The Nudge members; bass player James Coyle, drummer Iraia Whakamoe, of Ngāi Tūhoe and guitarist Ryan Prebble.

The waiata was funded by Te Māngai Pāho’s initiative of encouraging collaboration between te reo speakers and non-speakers. For The Nudge drummer, Iraia Whakamoe, it was his first time creating a song in te reo.

“It’s been a wonderful journey actually. It’s all part of a wider healing de-col (decolonisation) journey actually. I’m a tauira myself of te reo Māori and it’s been really natural, to be honest. It's felt really normal and beautiful and something that I'll continually strive for.”

Kingi says singing and writing the waiata was a good challenge for him as well.

“I have grown up through kohanga reo and kura kauapapa but living in a place where there are not many people to talk with in te reo. It definitely is a case of use it or lose it and I do feel like my reo has declined over the years so it’s a good impetus for me to get back to relearning.”

The waiata is available on music platforms today.