By: Siena Yates
1981: DEANE WARETINI – THE BRIDGE
It was written by Waretini’s cousin, Te Arawa elder George Tait, and was based on Italian Nini Rosso’s 1965 hit Il Silenzi.
1983: PRINCE TUI TEKA – E IPO
Two years after The Bridge, the legendary Prince Tui Teka scored the number one spot on the charts with E Ipo.
It was written by Teka and Ngoi Pēwhairangi and was – somewhat unexpectedly – based on a traditional Indonesian folk song.
1984: THE PATEA MĀORI CLUB – POI E
The following year, perhaps the biggest te reo Māori song ever hit the charts: The legendary Poi E by the Patea Māori Club.
Led by Dalvanius Prime, the club somehow managed to mix traditional Māori elements with break dancing and actually made it work.
Not only did it hit number one, but it stayed there for an impressive four weeks and became the year’s biggest single. It also re entered the charts in 2010 when the movie Boy came out.
2014: STAN WALKER, RIA HALL, TROY KINGI, MAISEY RIKA – AOTEAROA
Aotearoa came about in an attempt to be the first te reo song to hit number one since Poi E.
Matai Rangi Smith got Stan Walker on board who wrote the song with Vince Harder, Troy Kingi and Ria Hall and they launched it for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori 2014.
It didn’t quite make it to number one, but it did hit number two and has become something of a modern classic.
2016: MAIMOATIA – PŪKANA & WHĀNAU
Maimoatia is a gospel-like song which aims to promote te reo. It was released during last year’s Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, and went straight to number one in the New Zealand iTunes charts.
That’s an even bigger deal when you consider that it bumped pop super star Justin Timberlake from the top spot.
Te reo expert Te Haumihiata Mason – who translated Dave Dobbyn’s te reo version of Welcome Home which released last week – helped create the song, which singer Nathaniel Howe says is about encouraging young people to take up the language.
Source: NZ Herald