Story: Waiata hōu – contemporary Māori songs

Page 2. First World War waiata

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At the outbreak of the First World War, Apirana Ngata printed another small booklet, Songs, haka and ruri for the use of the Maori Contingent. This was a collection of popular patriotic songs and romantic ballads translated into Māori. Ngata was active in organising Māori song-and-dance groups during the war to raise funds for Māori soldiers.

Hit songs

The first large-scale recordings of Māori songs were made in 1930 by the Columbia Graphophone Company. The collection of 30 Māori songs, love tunes, farewell and welcome songs were still selling some 30 years later.

Paraire Tomoana

Paraire Tomoana, who like Ngata was a Te Aute College old boy, also supported the fundraising effort through new compositions and his own group, Te Poi o Heretaunga. Tomoana’s best-known songs were 'Te ope tuatahi', ‘Tahi nei taru kino’, 'Hoea rā te waka nei', ‘Hoki hoki tonu mai’ and the iconic New Zealand love song ‘Pōkarekare ana’. Perhaps his most famous song is the still-popular 'E pari rā', a waiata for Maku-i-te-Rangi Ellison, whose son Whakatomo died in the First World War. This waiata maumahara (song of remembrance) and waiata-ā-ringa was influenced by, and has a similar tune to, the ‘Blue eyes waltz’. It was adopted by the Royal New Zealand Navy Band as their official slow march.

In September 1917 the Māori newspaper Te Kopara reported the fundraising activity of Te Poi o Heretaunga at the Wellington town hall on the invitation of Apirana Ngata. The audience was introduced to the song ‘Hoea rā te waka nei’, and £550 was raised over three nights for the Maori Soldiers Fund. ‘Hoea rā’ would later be adapted into a love song.

Ana Hato and Deane Waretini

Many First World War songs were made popular amongst New Zealanders through radio broadcasts of the recordings of Rotorua singing duet Ana Hato and Deane Waretini in the 1930s and 1940s.

How to cite this page:

Piri Sciascia and Paul Meredith, 'Waiata hōu – contemporary Māori songs - First World War waiata', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 7 December 2023)

Story by Piri Sciascia and Paul Meredith, published 22 Oct 2014