Music breathes new life into te reo

A Māori master's student at the University of Auckland's key message is ‘Whaka-cool-ngia te reo’ - to bring te reo Māori into a youth forum and modern context

Mohi Allen (Ngāpuhi Te Rarawa, Ngāti Te Rangi, Ngāti Kahungunu) is a Māori Studies master’s student at the University of Auckland. He is researching the impact popular contemporary Māori music has on Māori language revitalisation.

In this video, made for Māori Language Week, Mohi talks about the main objective of his research which is to study Māori music artists and their compositions; the impact they have on te reo, and how they influence the way Māori youth, Pākehā and other ethnic groups speak and engage with te reo.

Interviewees for his project have included Pere Wihongi and Rei Music who embody a strong sense of identity within their compositions.  Mohi talks about these artists in the video and the broadening activity he has identified in the Māori music industry where artists are branching into alternative genres, for example, the Waiata/Anthems album led by Māori musician Hinewehi Mohi. This album, produced in 2019, featured iconic New Zealand music artists singing their well-known hits in te reo.

The key message in Mohi’s work is ‘Whaka-cool-ngia te reo,’ which means to bring te reo Māori into a youth forum and modern context. Through his research he hopes to create a strategy that will revitalise te reo Māori for youth across the country and keep the language fresh, relevant and sustainable.

Mohi has been immersed in music from a young age and he ends the video performing his own composition about Māori youth chasing their dreams. The song is written in Māori with some words unique to Ngāpuhi.

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