Waiata or songs and chants are an important part of Māori 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 whaikōrero (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.

  • Tēnā koutou, e hoa mā

Tēnā koutou, e hoa mā             Greetings, oh friends      
Kua tae mai nei i tēnei rā          Arrived here this day  
Nō reira rā, e hoa mā                Therefore, oh friends,
Kia ora rā, 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 
Nō reira rā, e hoa mā                 Therefore, oh friends,
Kia ora rā, koutou katoa             Good health, to you all 

mp3 [mp3, 1.8 MB]

  • Māku rā pea

Māku rā pea                                   I will perhaps                           
Māku rā pea                                   I will perhaps
Māku koe e awhi ē                        I will help you 
Ki te ara, ara tupu                       Upon the pathway, of progress
Māku koe e awhi ē x 2                  I will indeed help you

mp3 [mp3, 615 KB]

  • E papa Waiari 

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

Ē Auē                                                Alas,
E ka mate au                                   I will die
E Hine hoki mai rā                        Girl so return unto me

Māku e kaute                                   I will count
Ō hīkoitanga                                   Your footsteps 
Māku e kaute                                   I will count
Ō hīkoitanga                                   Your footsteps

Ē Auē                                                Alas, Alas,
E ka mate au                                    I will die
E Hine hoki mai rā                          Girl so return unto me 
E Hine hoki mai rā                          Girl so return unto me

mp3 [mp3, 1.1 MB]

  • 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 tēnei kiri e                                    Skin to skin
Ki tēnei kiri e                                    Skin to skin

mp3 [mp3, 1.3 MB]