Waiata praising wāhine Māori named as Apra Maioha finalist

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Aja Ropata (Te Atiawa, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Raukawa), along with fellow songwriters Byllie-Jean Zeta and Chris Wethey, is in the running as a finalist for the APRA Maioha Award for her R&B waiata Te Iho.

It’s a waiata that praises the essence of powerful wāhine Māori, using poetic language to express the importance of women.

The award recognises the art of contemporary Māori songwriting and honours composers who are telling their stories in te reo Māori.

She is also one of the many Māori finalists in the various categories of the 2022 APRA Silver Scroll Awards. other finalists include Troy Kingi and Marlon Williams who are up for the top Silver Scroll Award.

Ropata has paid tribute to those who created and those who won the award before her.

“This is really looking at the whakapapa of this waiata, so to be recognised for us as a rōpū, it’s massive,” she says.

Credit: YouTube / AJAofficialmusic

The song came about during the first lockdown of the Covid pandemic, with media fund Te Māngai Pāho giving her and Byllie-Jean Zeta the opportunity for collaboration.

“We always had this beautiful dream of making an animation video in te reo Māori that recognises the power of wāhine but also recognises the superpowers of each individual.

“Because we’re māmā, kuia, we have so many influences in our life - our parents, mothers, tūpuna wāhine. We’re just trying to acknowledge that through our purākau, korero, taonga tuku iho in this waiata.”

She also juggles her mahi as a teacher in Pōneke with trying to finish her first album and has another Māori single on the way, which is a recognition of the revitalisation of te reo Māori.