Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2023: Whakanuia te mahi tā Morvin Simon: kia kaha te reo Māori

Morvin Simon MNZM
Morvin Simon MNZM, 1944-2014. CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons and the Governor-General/Government House website

Morvin Simon, 1944-2014
Te Āti-Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Tuwharetoa
b. Kaiwhaiki Marae, Whanganui River
Composer, kapa haka leader, choirmaster and historian

In this Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, let’s remember the special team of Morvin and Kura Simon, who gave a life’s partnership to sustaining Te Reo Māori and enhancing Māori performing arts:

Morvin composed many waiata including our workplace favourite: (Te Aroha 1983) – so simple and yet so beautiful but he composed many other waiata such as:

His wife Kura was his pou for the last seven years of Morvin’s chronic ill-health. Kapa haka is a wonderful way of promoting te reo and they brought aroha and whanaungatanga to the lives of rōpū such as Te Matapihi, and Te Taikura o te Awa Tupua.

Together, in 2013, they were awarded Queen’s Birthday honours – Morvin as Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, and Kura as Queen’s Service Medal , for their services to Māori.

In the previous year, 2012, Morvin received an honorary Bachelor of Arts (Māori Performing Arts) from Te Wānanga o Awanuiārangi.

Our library has copies of Morvin’s history of pā of Whanganui – Taku Whare e! but his tuhituhinga included:

Te Kohanga reo, he ahurewa mana = A language nursery, seedbed of dignity (1990)

1946-1996 Hui Aranga : “Te Aranga Ake” = “The Resurrection” (1996)

A century of Maori song : a collection of words and music for 56 traditional and contemporary Maori songs of the 20the century. Volume one (2002)

He whakaaro hei korero (1991)

and a section of Te Wharekura. 46: Te Taonga nei o te tikanga.

Morvin exhorted his learners to be always prepared for any occasion:

You never know when you just might have to step up to the plate and get your reo on:
Moea to taiaha ; Moea to patu ; Moea to poi

Sleep wth your taiaha, sleep with your patu, sleep with your poi / Be prepared for the unexpected.

Learn more:

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2023

For Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, Wellington City Libraries are hosting a week of fun events for the whole whānau! Here is our schedule below; events are repeated throughout the week at different library branches so make sure to scroll through the whole list to see what’s happening at your favourite branches. You can also find the list through our online event calendar here.

It’s also a perfect time of year to check out our Te Reo Kete – these are bound to be popular this month so get in quick! You might also like to check out our curated list of eBooks from Te Ao Māori on Libby here.

Nohinohi Reorua Special11 September, 10:30-11am (Tawa Library)

An extra special session of Nohinohi Reorua is happening this month. Come down to Tawa Library as we kickstart Te Wiki o te Reo Māori with another session of our bilingual storytime in te reo Māori and English. Recommended for children aged 2 – 4 years with their caregivers.

Nohinohi Reorua Special Bilingual Storytime – 12 September, 10:30 – 11am (Johnsonville Library)

An extra special session of Nohinohi Reorua is happening this month.  Come down to Waitohi Library as we kickstart Te Wiki o te Reo Māori with another session of our bilingual storytime in te reo Māori and English. Recommended for children aged 2 – 6 years with their caregivers.

Stories of Te Reo – Record Yours! – 12 September, 3-5pm (Te Awe Library)

As part of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori we are inviting you to record your journey, memories and actions to ensure the survival of te reo Māori as a unique part of our national identity. Find out more about the national Stories of Te Reo project.

Come to the library on Tuesday 12 September from 3-5pm to record your stories. Allow approx. 25 minutes for your recording session.

These recordings will be uploaded to the Reo Māori website above!

Continue reading “Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2023”

Aotearoa Traditional Māori Performing Arts and Te Matatini – Part 3

Haere mai and welcome to the third blog in our ‘Te Whare Tapere to Kapa Haka and Māori Concert Party’ series. You can find Part One, and Part Two here.

The modern kapa haka competitions began around the time of the first Waitangi Day celebrations in 1934:

Ngapuhi performance at Waitangi, 1934 — NZHistory.net

The Polynesian Festivals were held at Rotorua, 1972 and 1976. Regional teams took part, but also present were Pacific rōpū until 1983 when the festivals became the Aotearoa Traditional Māori Performing Arts Festival.

In 1976, rōpū representing Guam and Australia attended the festival. Guam had become an unincorporated territory of USA in August 1950, and its contribution to the festival revealed an almost complete annihilation of the indigenous culture. The rōpū’s waiata-ā-ringa including the shooting down of Japanese invader planes (30 years after the end of WWII), and the singing of the current USA pop song (in English) of ‘How much is that doggie in the window’.

The Aboriginal rōpū told their stories in dramatic role plays backed by their instruments such as didgeridoo — they didn’t stand in kapa / lines for their cultural performances at all.

The Aotearoa Traditional Māori Performing Arts Festival existed between 1983 and 2004.

Have watch of the Iwi Anthems television programme, which began screening on Māori Television in 2013:

Watch episodes of Iwi Anthems

Every iwi has an anthem, they are the waiata and haka we love to perform at gatherings. Our iwi anthems tell unique stories about our tribes revealing who we are and what’s important to us.

The competitions rotated from marae to marae setting, with tribal influences dominant in each iwi/hapū territory. The iwi anthems became signature tunes for the respective iwi, with perpetuation of dialect specific to their region. With the influence of migrations to urban centres in search of jobs and upskilling (by trade training, nursing, etc) there was a move to pan-tribal rōpū with pan-tribal influences for members, composers, tutors.

Watch a video from Te Ara of Kapa haka group Te Waka Huia performing the whakaeke (entrance) at the 1996 Aotearoa Traditional Māori Performing Arts Festival:

Video — Te Waka Huia, 1996

Te Rita Papesch has written an overview of those years in the book: The state of the Māori nation : twenty-first-century issues in Aotearoa, published in 2006:

“Kapa Haka” — Chapter 2 in State of the Māori nation : twenty-first-century issues in Aotearoa
“Dealing with a diverse range of issues that affect Maori living in modern-day New Zealand, State of the Maori Nation is a collection of 22 short and informative essays drawn from Maori commentators, historians, teachers, researchers and academics working across the country in all manner of industries. This is a book with something for everyone — Maori and Pakeha, men and women, young and old — and gives a vision of a confident and capable people moving from strength to strength within every aspect of contemporary New Zealand society. The subjects covered in the book include: kapa haka […]” (Catalogue)

Te Matatini was formed in 2004, and the competition has now moved to a handful of centralised city settings – influenced by underlying economic factors such as the large size of the moveable stage, and the cost of hosting the competitions. But there has also, lately, been a return to the telling of tribal stories alongside themes of world-wide concerns.

Te Matatini performances have become dramatic, passionate, fluid, and topical in the stories they bring to the stage, but the staunch tutors and leaders of the kapa haka teams declare the centre of Kapa Haka lies, and must always lie, with the care and attention to the reo within these cultural performances, even where a regimented “correct” body poses of the past ideals are no longer of paramount importance.

Watch Hikurangi‘s Te Matatini performance in 2019. Here is the signature waiata of Ngāti Porou – where the rangi and costumes honour the legacy of Te Moana-nui-a-kiwa Ngarimu, but the actions, foot, arm, hip movements are vigorous, “lively” and far from “traditional”:

Hikurangi’s kapa haka legacy continues — Article and video

“Aspiring to preserve the waiata, traditions and legacy of their kapa, Hikurangi is one of the longest-standing kapa in the country, having been established in 1934.”

Further books from our shelves:

Haka : te tohu o te whenua rangatira = the dance of a noble people / Kāretu, T. S. (1993)
Timoti Karetu describes the various types of haka and their different roles in Māori customs.

Mātāmua ko te kupu! : te haka tēnā! te wana, taku ihi e, pupuritia / Kāretu, T. S. (2020)
“[Sir Tīmoti Kāretu] is also an unrivalled creator of waiata and haka, composing songs and judging at Te Matatini and other events. In this book, Sir Timoti shares his extensive experience in the artforms of haka and waiata – from Maori songs of the two world wars to the rise of kapa haka competitions, from love songs to action songs, from Sir Apirana Ngata to Te Puea Herangi, and from Te Matatini to contemporary hui on marae.” (Catalogue)

Kia Rōnaki = The Māori performing arts
“In the last thirty years there has been an explosion of interest in the Māori performing arts but until now there has been no general book written in English or Māori about the Māori performing arts by Māori authors and exponents of the various genres. This new work, Kia Rōnaki: The Māori Performing Arts, edited by John Moorfield, Tania Ka’ai and Rachael Ka’ai-Mahuta, brings together the expertise of a range of performance artists and academics, consolidating their knowledge into a comprehensive single volume that will be of relevance to all those interested in the Māori performing arts.” (Catalogue)

Haka : a living tradition / Gardiner, Wira

Chapter “Kapa Haka as a web of cultural meanings” by Hector Kaiwai, in Cultural studies in Aotearoa New Zealand : identity, space and place

Kapa haka mai rānō ki tēnei wā, has been important to iwi on several levels — as a driver of perfection in te reo, as a way of carrying through stories pūrākau and traditions of the past, and now, as a way of raising awareness of current local and global issues.

Kia kaha te reo Māori — mō āke tonu atu.

Read more:

Concert Parties: Movers and shakers – Part 2

Haere mai and welcome to the second blog in our ‘Te Whare Tapere to Kapa Haka and Māori Concert Party’ series. You can find Part One here.

Urban migration was the driver for the formation of pan-tribal groupings such as Ngāti Poneke (1936), Te Rōpū Manutaki (1969), Anglican Māori Clubs formed under the leadership of Kingi Ihaka at Wellington and then Auckland,  and Te Kotahitanga o Waitaha was established early 1980s.

The Ngāti Poneke Concert Party in 1950:

Some of the entertainers of the Ngati-Poneke Concert Party. From Rangiatea Centennial Celebration souvenir, page 25. March 1950.
‘Some of the entertainers of the Ngati-Poneke Concert Party’. From Rangiatea Centennial Celebration souvenir, page 25. March 1950. [Ephemera of octavo size relating to Maori. 1950-1954]. Ref: Eph-A-MAORI-1950-01-25. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23236654
Watch video of Ngāti Poneke performing at the NZ Polynesian Festival in 1981 in Avondale, Auckland:

Strong tribal groups were established in Tokomaru Bay, 1939. Tokomaru Bay waiata and the mahi of Tuini Ngawai are retold/performed by Ngā Taikura o te Hokowhitu a Tū in this video from Taikura Kapa Haka 2022 — watch online at the link below:

Ngā Taikura o te Hokowhitu a Tū – Taikura Kapa Haka 2022

Tuini Ngawai founded Te Hokowhitu-a-Tū Concert Party in 1939 — a ropū which assisted Apirana Ngata to recruit soldiers for 28 Māori Battalion. Her most famous waiata was Arohaina mai e te Kingi Nui (1940) which became the unofficial hymn for the Māori Battalion:

Arohaina mai e te Kingi Nui on YouTube

Watch this programme from TVNZ’s Waka Huia archive (Oct 5 1997), about Māori composers Tuini Ngawai and Ngoi Pewhairangi — this is Part two of a two-part profile, and focuses on the establishment of Te Hokowhitu-a-Tu cultural party and the history of its activities throughout the years:

Ngoi Pewhairangi, niece of Tuini Ngawai was a member of Te Hokowhitu-a-Tū Concert Party. Read more:

Ngoingoi Pēwhairangi : an extraordinary life / Ka’ai, Tania
“This bilingual text is a celebration of Ngoi’s life through the testimonies of many people who knew her.” (Catalogue)

Read this E-Tangata article on Dalvanius Prime:

E-Tangata — “Dalvanius – no one-hit wonder”

And watch the Poi e music video over at Te Ara:

Dalvanius Prime and Pātea Maori Club — ‘Poi e’

From the article:

Dalvanius Prime worked the Australian club circuit in the 1970s as Dalvanius and the Fascinations, and formed a production company called Maui Records in New Zealand in 1983. From then he concentrated on Māori music. His best-known song, ‘Poi e’, was the result of a collaboration with East Cape writer Ngoi Pēwhairangi and was intended to make Māori children feel proud of their ethnicity. It was sung by the Pātea Maori Club to an infectious break-dance rhythm, successfully fusing traditional Māori culture with up-to-the-minute urban sounds. The song was in the New Zealand music charts for 22 weeks in 1984, including four weeks at number one. It re-entered the charts in 2010, popularised by the movie Boy.

Here is an interview with Dalvanius Prime on the making of Poi E (interview was recorded in 2003):

Waihīrere Māori Club formed in Gisborne, (Bill Kerekere), in 1951. Watch Waihīrere Māori Ki Koroneihana Turangawaewae Ngaruawahia on YouTube:

In 1952 Ngāpō (Bub) Wehi became a member of the Waihirere Cultural Group. Read:

Ngapo Wehi – the man who made kapa haka mainstream

Ka mau te Wehi = Taking haka to the world : Bub & Nen’s story / Wehi, Ngapo
With over a century of combined experience in Maori song and dance, leading teams and teaching, Ngapo and Pimia Wehi, affectionately known as Bub and Nen, are recognised as New Zealand’s foremost leaders in this ever-expanding arena, having won six national kapa haka championships, twice as the leaders of The Waihirere Maori Club (1965-1981) and four times with Auckland kapa haka team Te Waka Huia (1981-2011). [… This book] tells the story of Bub and Nen, a loving dedicated couple who taught a generation of Maori how to live the ideals of whanau (family) and hold fast to their cultural identity through participating in kapa haka, one of the biggest and most popular areas of Maori cultural growth to emerge in the last 30 years.” (Catalogue)

Te Whare Tapere to Kapa Haka and Māori Concert Party – Part 1

Kia kawea tātou e te rēhia : Let us be taken by joy and entertainment

The story of kapa haka is a tale of many milestones, developments, and progressions. These are neatly summarized in Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand’s entry on Kapa Haka, where “Kapa” is described as a row of “performers” and kapa haka is acknowledged as both an ancient and a living art form.

A first example of kapa haka occurs in the pūrākau of Tinirau and Kae:

In the 19th century

This article, “19th-century kapa haka” – Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand, describes kapa haka in the 1800s.

Concert groups (for tourism) were performing to audiences – especially at Rotorua. The kaupapa were delivered in te reo but the underlying melodies were European – thought to be more attractive to tourists who did not always warm to traditional mōteatea.

Māori concert parties made early trips abroad – Dr McGauran’s troup travelled to Sydney and Melbourne in 1862 and then to the United Kingdom the following year.

Traditional Māori ceremonies were always part of the welcome to Royal visitors — for Prince Albert in 1869, and later for Queen Elizabeth II in 1953-4.

In the 20th Century

Mākereti Papakura’s group toured Australia and United Kingdom, in 1910-1911:

Te Puea Hērangi’s troupe, Te Pou o Mangatāwhiri toured the North Island from 1922, funding the building of Tūrangawaewae:

Te Puea formed a group named Te Pou o Mangatāwhiri. Its name commemorates the pou (post) erected by the Kīngitanga at Mangatāwhiri beyond which Pākehā were not to acquire land or authority, an injunction they ignored. Te Pou o Mangatāwhiri set out to raise the hundreds of pounds needed for the carved house by performing in halls and theatres throughout the North Island. Te Puea kept morale high on the tours, gathering the young people together to tell them stories and share her hopes with them, joking, jumping to her feet to show them how to improve their haka, how to pūkana

Te Puea : A life, by Michael King
Te Puea : a life / King, Michael (Also available as an eBook)

Apirana Ngata was a huge supporter of kapa haka as fundraisers for his Māori Soldiers’ fund. He also began, in 1929, to collect waiata for his Ngā moteatea volumes:

Ngā mōteatea : he maramara rere nō ngā waka maha / Apirana Turupa Ngata

“This classic text on Maori culture collects indigenous New Zealand songs recorded over a period of 40 years by a respected Maori leader and distinguished scholar. The essence of Maori culture and its musical tradition is exhibited in the original song texts, translations, audio CDs, and notes from contemporary scholars featured in this new edition.” (Catalogue)

Apirana Turupa Ngata leading a haka at the 1940 centennial celebrations at Waitangi. The meeting house, Waitangi House, is on the left:

Apirana Turupa Ngata leading a haka at the 1940 centennial celebrations, Waitangi
‘Apirana Turupa Ngata leading a haka at the 1940 centennial celebrations, Waitangi.’ Making New Zealand : Negatives and prints from the Making New Zealand Centennial collection. Ref: MNZ-2746-1/2-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23012205

Read more:

Apirana Ngata : e tipu e rea / King, Michael
“A well-illustrated biography of Ngata, aimed at school students.” (Summary from Wheelers)

He tipua : the life and times of Sir Apirana Ngata / Walker, R. J.
“A biography of Maori leader, Sir Apirana Ngata. It describes in detail the huge impact Ngata had on the social, cultural, economic and political landscape of New Zealand and how he created a new path of reconciliation between Maori and Pakeha and helped build an enduring Maori recovery.” (Catalogue)

Paraire Tomoana and E Pari Rā:

In the First World War Paraire Tomoana put his musical ability to patriotic use. He was in his 40s, too old and too valuable at home to go to war. Instead, he threw his energies into Ngata’s scheme of raising funds to invest for the benefit of the Māori soldiers who returned, and the children of those who did not. By June 1917 he had organised a song and dance group that gave performances to raise money for the Māori Soldiers’ Fund. The members would prepare songs for soldiers’ camps, for those at home, for battlegrounds, for work and for mourning.

Te Karere clip description for the above (from 2015):

An old war-time song written by Paraire Tomoana nearly a hundred years ago is set to be revived on the other side of the world this ANZAC. More than 200 New Zealanders are learning the song and actions to E Pari Rā to perform it in a mass waiata for this year’s ANZAC Day dawn ceremony in London.”

Pōkarekare ana, Ngāti Kahungunu, 2015 Kaumātua Kapa Haka Festival:

Petihana Reo Māori 50th Anniversary: Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori 2022

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the presentation of the Māori Language petition, Te Petihana, to Parliament. As Te Taura Whiri, the Māori Language Commission, explains:

“For most of the 20th century the New Zealand government discouraged, banned and made it socially unacceptable to openly speak te reo Māori. 50 years ago, Māori language champions calling for te reo to be taught in schools presented the Māori Language Petition to parliament. The petition carried the signatures of more than 30,000 New Zealanders.

That day – 14 September 1972 – became Māori Language Day which eventually expanded to what we know as Māori Language Week. Their peaceful protest also led to the successful WAI11 Māori Language claim to the Waitangi Tribunal and the enactment of the Māori Language Act 1987. The Act recognised te reo as an official language of our country …”

This year Māori Language Week runs from Monday 12 September – Sunday 18 September. There will be a special event at Parliament from 11:30am – 1pm on 14 September to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the presentation of the petition. You can find out more about this event, and how to watch it, on the ReoMāori site. There will also be other events happening around Wellington so check them out and support te reo and its revitalisation.

Visit ReoMāori to find resources to support te reo Māori in the workplace, home, and community and learn more about the history of te reo and Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori at NZ History.

Start or continue your te reo journey with these items from our collection:

Māori made easy : for everyday learners of the Māori language / Morrison, Scotty
“Fun, user-friendly, and relevant to modern readers, Scotty Morrison’s Maori Made Easy is the one one-stop resource for anyone wanting to learn the basics of the Maori language. While dictionaries list words and their definitions, and other language guides offer common phrases, Maori Made Easy connects the dots, allowing the reader to take control of their learning in an empowering way. By committing just 30 minutes a day for 30 weeks, learners will adopt the language easily and as best suits their busy lives. Written by te reo Maori advocate Scotty Morrison, this book proves that learning the language can be fun, effective–and easy” (Catalogue)

A Māori word a day : 365 words to kickstart your reo / Kelly, Hēmi
“A Māori dictionary for all New Zealanders. Through its 365 Māori words, you will learn the following: English translations; word category, notes and background information; Sample sentences, in both te reo Māori and English”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)


Let’s learn Maori : a guide to the study of the Maori language / Biggs, Bruce
“”Let’s Learn Maori was designed by Maori language expert Bruce Biggs in 1969. He covers the parts of speech, the structure of each type of phrase, and the combinations of phrases that form simple sentences. Each aspect of the grammar is discussed in a numbered section or subsection and illustrated by sentence examples. A combined vocabulary and index provides an ingenious and convenient reference system. There is also a section on pronunciation, but the student is warned that a written explanation is no substitute for the actual sounds spoken by native speakers of the language.”–BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved” (Catalogue)

Mai i te kākano / Jacob, Hēni
“Do you feel like your Maori language proficiency has plateaued? Are you looking for alternative, more Maori, more fun ways to say things in everyday situations? Do you have trouble sustaining lively and meaningful conversations with your kids and grandchildren, your friends and colleagues? Written entirely in Maori (excpt for some Maori to English translations at the bottom of some pages), this book includes sections on Maori idiom and metaphor, common errors, and examples of language in use in a variety of settings, including the home, at the supermarket , at the beach and on the sports field. It provides a unique, “more Maori”, more fun way to say things in everyday situations.” (Catalogue)

A Māori phrase a day : 365 phrases to kickstart your reo / Kelly, Hēmi
“A Maori Phrase a Day offers a fun and easy entry into the Maori language. Through its 365 phrases, you will learn the following: – Everyday uses – English translations – Factoids – Handy word lists Presenting the most common, relevant and useful phrases today, A Maori Phrase a Day is the perfect way to kickstart your te reo journey!” (Catalogue)