Tipene releases new album with powerful message

By Jessica Tyson

Ngāti Kahungunu musician Tipene Harmer has released a new album today with a powerful message to inspire rangatahi to learn about their whakapapa and re-indigenise Māori.

Tipene is also a finalist in the 2021 APRA Silver Scrolls for his waiata Turangwaewae performed alongside Maisey Rika and Troy Kingi.

Tipene’s passion is to bring an understanding of te ao Maori (Māori worldview) and through his new album Heritage Trail he hopes to re-indigenise Māori through the power of his music.

"I wanted to acknowledge our ancestors first and foremost. I also wanted to share that with the rangatahi.”

Tipene is a father of five and works as a kaiako, teacher at Mercury Bay Area School in Whitianga.

“There’s a lot of our tūpuna stories that [the students] don’t really know so I thought that this would be a cool way to do that, plus I love hip hop,” he says.

One of his waiata in the album is named Kupe.

“The full name of Whitianga is Te Whitianga nui a Kupe, and Kupe being the first navigator. So these kids that have grown up here didn’t know anything about Kupe. So I was like, ‘Far out. You’ve got to know this guy is the OG. He’s the reason why we’re here. So for me, it just really drives me.”

The song Kupe was written on the banks of Whitianga’s Taputapuatea Stream, named by Kupe himself after the sacred waters of his homeland.

“For me, it’s not about the streams or album sales, it’s about what people are doing and thinking. If I’ve inspired somebody to go out and connect with their heritage, their kids, their family, their whenua, where they’re from, their turangawaewae (place to stand), well, man, that’s up there with oxygen for me. It’s why I do what I do.”


Tipene says whakapapa is the main drive in the album.

“Whakapapa, meaning lineage, who you come from, where you come from, why it’s important and connection to that helps you moving forward. It is kind of like medicine in a Māori sense.”  

The album also provides a record of Tipene’s life.

 “I wrote this album for a hundred years down the track, after I’m long gone," Tipene says.

"When my photo is hanging in the marae (meeting house) and my mokopuna (grandchildren) point to it and asks  ‘who's that?’, ‘what was he like?’, they can press play on this album. This music is about legacy.” 

To listen to the album click here. The APRA Silver Scroll award will be presented in October.

Heritage Trail album cover. Source: Tipene