Story: Waiata tawhito - traditional Māori songs

'Pinepine te kura'

Listen to one of the best-known traditional Māori waiata, ‘Pinepine te kura’, from Ngāti Kahungunu, sung here by the southern Hawke's Bay kapa group Tamatea Arikinui. This waiata is an example of an oriori, a chant composed for a young (sometimes unborn) child, usually of noble birth. Oriori typically contain complex references to the child's kinship connections, to recent and ancient history, and to myths and gods. 'Pinepine te kura' is addressed to Te Umurangi, the ‘little tiny treasure’ descended from Te Whatuiāpiti, a great Ngāti Kahungunu chief and warrior. In 1888 prophet and war leader Te Kooti composed a new version of this oriori, also called 'Pinepine te kura', in reference to his long pursuit by members of Ngāti Kahungunu, among other tribes. The photo shows the meeting house Te Whatuiāpiti, which stands at Rakautatahi marae, Takapau, and is named for the chief referred to in this waiata.

Using this item

Private collection

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

Courtesy of Rakautatahi Marae and Tamatea Arikinui

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Rawinia Higgins and Arini Loader, 'Waiata tawhito - traditional Māori songs - Traditions of waiata', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 27 September 2023)

Story by Rawinia Higgins and Arini Loader, published 22 Oct 2014