Waiata - Song

WaiataWaiata or songs and chants are an important part of Maori culture. The words and expressions preserve the wisdom and knowledge of ancestors.

There are many forms of waiata used for different purposes including oriori (lullabies), waiata tangi (laments), waiata aroha (songs of love), ngeri (a type of chant), manawawera (a form of challenge) and waiata poi (poi songs). When performing a waiata, it is important to choose a song appropriate for the occasion.

Waiata are often performed at the end of whaikorero (speeches) to support what has been said. They can also be sung to remove tapu (restrictions) or to engage, entertain, calm, or comfort the listener.

Traditionally, waiata were always performed in unison with very few actions and with no musical instruments or choreography. While this is still the case today, contemporary waiata are commonly sung with accompaniment, include harmony, and are performed with complicated actions and choreography.

Different iwi (tribes) often have their own waiata, with many composed centuries ago. However, there are a lot of waiata that are now generally accepted as common property. This often happens when a waiata has an appealing tune or the lyrics express the sentiments of a tribe so well that it is taken over by others.

Radio Kahungunu has given us permission to make these four popular waiata available for your listening pleasure.

Click to hear Listen to:

  • Tena koutou, e hoa ma

    Tena koutou, e hoa ma             Greetings, oh friends     
    Kua tae mai nei i tenei ra          Arrived here this day  
    Nö reira ra, e hoa ma                Therefore, oh friends,
    Kia ora ra, koutou katoa            Good health, to you all

    Kua rongo hoki ahau                  I had heard of course
    Kua rongo hoki ahau                  I had heard of course
    Kua rongo hoki ahau                  I had heard of course
    Kei te haere mai koutou            That you were all coming
    Nö reira ra, e hoa ma                 Therefore, oh friends,
    Kia ora ra, koutou katoa             Good health, to you all

  • Maku ra pea

    Maku ra pea                                   I will perhaps                          
    Maku ra pea                                   I will perhaps
    Maku koe e awhi e                        I will help you
    Ki te ara, ara Tupu                       Upon the pathway, of progress
    Maku koe e awhi e x 2                  I will indeed help you

  • E papa Waiari

    E Hine hoki mai ra                        Girl return unto me
    E Papa waiari                                O elder Waiari
    Taku nei mahi                                All I seem to do 
    Taku nei mahi                                All I seem to do
    Hei tuku roimata                            Is to shed tears

    E Aue                                                Alas,
    E ka mate au                                   I will die
    E Hine hoki mai ra                        Girl so return unto me

    Maku e kaute                                   I will count
    O hikoitanga                                   Your footsteps
    Maku e kaute                                   I will count
    O hikoitanga                                   Your footsteps

    E Aue                                                 Alas,
    E ka mate au                                    I will die
    E Hine hoki mai ra                          Girl so return unto me
    E Hine hoki mai ra                          Girl so return unto me

  • Hokihoki tonu mai

    Hokihoki tonu mai                          Return
    Te wairua o te tau                           The spirit of the loved one
    Ki te awhi reinga                             To give me a fleeting embrace
    Ki tenei kiri e                                    Skin to skin
    Ki tenei kiri e                                    Skin to skin

    Ka pinea koe e au                           I will adorn you  
    Ki te pine o te aroha                        With an ornament of love 
    Ki te pine e kore nei                        With an ornament that will never
    Te Waikura e                                    Rust away
    Te Waikura e                                    Rust away                                               

The songs were recorded by Radio Kahungunu and sung by "The Irirangi Singers" Joseph Te Rito, John Harmer, Patricia Te Rangi and Hawea Tomoana (also guitarist).

These waiata are not to be reproduced without our permission.