28 Nov 2019

Theia releases te reo Māori Christmas song 'Te Kaiwhakaora O Te Ao'

From RNZ Music, 8:00 am on 28 November 2019

New Zealand pop artist Theia has written and recorded her own traditional Māori hymn with the hope of spreading love and peace this Christmas.

Skip to lyrics

'Te Kaiwhakaora O Te Ao' sees Theia (Waikato-Tainui) following in the footsteps of her late great grandmother, Mite Kerei Kukutai, composer of the beloved waiata ‘Kiwi Weka’.

Theia’s song is one of only a few Christmas waiata composed in Māori – most are translated from English. The song’s lyrics are traditional, its melody solemn and contemplative, and a lone guitar is its only instrumentation.

“I wrote 'Te Kaiwhakaora O Te Ao' as a gift to our people - a traditional Christmas hymn to call our own. A waiata to transcend generations and weave together the past and present,” says Theia.  “I would love this to be a song that is sung and performed in marae, churches and schools for many years to come”.

Cover art for Theia's Christmas waiata 'Te Kaiwhakaora O Te Ao'

Cover art for Theia's Christmas waiata 'Te Kaiwhakaora O Te Ao' Photo: Supplied

Theia is fluent in te reo Māori and has a BA with a double major in te reo Māori and Māori and indigenous studies.

She’s worked with fellow Māori creatives to bring the project together, including the illustrator Māori Mermaid (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Ruanui) who designed the cover art, and Nicole Hunt (Ngāi Tūhoe) who shot the photos and video.

Theia is wearing the work of esteemed fashion designer Bobby Luke (Ngāti Ruanui) from the label Campbell Luke.

'Te Kaiwhakaora O Te Ao' was recorded at Roundhead Studios by award-winning producer and engineer Simon Gooding and mastered by renowned engineer Chris Chetlandfrom Kog Studio.

Christchurch-born Theia emerged on the New Zealand music scene in 2016 with her song 'Roam'.

She has gone on to release two EPs to critical acclaim; her first earning her three nominations at the 2017 VNZMAs and her second NOT YOUR PRINCESS receiving two nominations at the 2019 Waiata Māori Music Awards.

Catch Theia live this summer at Rhythm and Vines on December 29; Bay Dreams Warm-up in Tauranga on January 1; supporting Tones And I in Tauranga on January 5 and at Soundsplash Timaru on January 17.

Te Kaiwhakaora O Te Ao (lyrics)

Te kaiwhakaora o te ao

(Saviour of the world)

I tukuna e Te Ariki

(Sent by The Lord)

Hariru korōria

(Glorious news)

Kia tau te marie

(Let peace abound)


Tīramarama ngā whetū kei runga

(Stars are shining above)

Auē te mauri o Te Atua

(Oh the life essence of God)


Korōria korōria

(Glory, glory)

Kua whānau mai a Ihu e

(Jesus is born)

Tama tapu, tohu aroha

(Holy son, sign of love)

Mō tātou katoa (For all of us)

Mō tātou katoa (For all of us)



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