How New Zealand Musicians are Revitalizing Maori Language

Maori, the Indigenous language of New Zealand, is on the cusp of extinction—and musicians in the country are trying to save it. Translating well-known songs into te reo Maori (“te reo” meaning “the language”), New Zealand artists are putting the Indigenous tongue back into use. Lorde is one such musician, releasing a new EP, Te Ao Marama, that’s composed of five songs from her record Solar Power translated into Maori—but artists have been embarking on this project long before her. In 2019, producer and musician Dame Hinewehi Mohi assembled Waiata/Anthemsan album of English tracks sung in Maori, which debuted at number one on New Zealand’s charts. Efforts like these have helped spread awareness of the language so that now, newscasters, weather reporters and grocery store signs include greetings or translations in Maori. As te reo becomes more widespread, people are catching on to its inherent resilience and beauty, which you can learn more about at The New York Times.

Image of Sir Timoti Karetu, courtesy of Cameron James McLaren/The New York Times