10 Sep 2021

Lorde releases EP in te reo Māori

From Morning Report, 8:47 am on 10 September 2021

New Zealand singer Lorde, aka Ella Yelich O'Connor, released a five-track EP yesterday - a selection of songs from her latest album Solar Power translated into te reo Māori. 

The EP, titled Te Ao Mārama, is a collaboration with Sir Tīmoti Kāretu, Dame Hinewehi Mohi, Hana Mereraiha and Hēmi Kelly.

Singer Dame Hinewehi Mohi (Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāi Tūhoe) told Morning Report she’s been working with artists on te reo Māori translations since the 2019 album Waitata / Anthems.

"Ella, of Lorde fame, is no different, she really embraced this kaupapa and wanted to be able to expresses her New Zealand-ness through her songs. It was wonderful working with her."

Dame Hinewehi says it's been exciting to work with someone who has a platform as big as Lorde's.

"I've worked and I was lectured in the olden days ... by Sir Tīmoti Kāretu who I've involved in this project, as well.

"He is an absolute guru of all things reo Māori and has been supportive and inspiring, and he also relishes the love of the language that these artists come to the project [with]."

The lyrics of the five songs were interpreted from a Māori point of view but always linking back to the essence of the original, she says.

"You immediately have to start by dissecting the impetus of the song and where it's coming from and the source of inspiration.

"So Ella would talk through what the song meant to her, and the memories it invoked from talking about her childhood and things that are really important to her.

"Then concepts would be floated around of metaphors that related to the same things from a Māori perspective, but it's about our nation and history and how we've come together as a people ...then [we employed] the onomatopoeic use of the [Māori] language to create the melody that's in tune with the original."

Proceeds from the sale of Te Ao Mārama will go to New Zealand charities Forest & Bird and Te Hua Kawariki Charitable Trust.