15 Sep 2021

Te reo Māori album debuts in top 10 of Aotearoa charts

From Morning Report, 8:29 am on 15 September 2021

The new 'Kono 003' EP – featuring the likes of Anna Coddington, Troy Kingi and Ria Hall - has debuted at number eight in the Aotearoa charts this week.

It comes just in time to celebrate te wiki o te reo Māori, with the EP comprising of tracks sung entirely in te reo Māori.

Anna Coddington, Ria Hall and Troy Kingi.

Anna Coddington, Ria Hall and Troy Kingi. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly, Supplied / Meek Zuidewyk, Supplied

Coddington told Morning Report the momentum for Māori waiata has been building for a long time in our music landscape.

"I think it's always been widely popular but it's kind of crossing over into 'mainstream' spaces now which I think is a good thing."

The album was put together with label mates Troy Kingi, Ria Hall, Katchafire, and The Nudge, who all did translations of existing waiata, she says.

"I've got an EP of my own coming out shortly which has a couple of other songs translated from my album as well as a new song."

Icons like Hinewihi Mohi have been the main drivers behind the waiata movement, she says.

"I feel like for quite a few years now, every Māori language week has left behind a kind of residue of Māori-ness in places where we previously haven't seen it.

"I think it's a really amazing strategy to promote te reo Māori and it's not just about getting people to speak it, it's about getting people to value it so that the people who do speak it feel like it's a language for everywhere.

"Like my kids who are going through a full immersion unit at school in a very urban environment where there's not a lot of Māori around, those are the situations where you get kids who can speak Māori but they feel like it's only for the school grounds.

"But strategies like this take it out into the wider world and really help to bring the value of the reo up so everyone feels good about using it wherever they are."

Another new te reo Māori song topping the charts is Rob Ruha's 35, which was done in collaboration with Gisborne band Ka Hao.

Behind the scenes of a rehearsal with Rob Ruha at recording studio The Lab.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

In fact, four of the top five tunes on the Aotearoa's Hot 20 Singles chart (based on sales, streams and radio play) are te reo Māori waiata.

Ruha told Morning Report the rangatahi have been fearless in what they want to express in their own reo.

"Here on the East Coast, the majority of those kids want to express themselves in their reo ... so to have this wicked success with a song that they wrote really drives that home and validates those who want to do that."

He says the artists involved embraced their kaupapa to share light with whānau who may not have it, especially under lockdown.

"It was really choice to have this song well received and pushing some light into some dark spaces."

Te reo Māori releases chalked up 1.3 million streams last week, breaking all previous records.