Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Amidst the landslide of local albums released in the current New Zealand Music Month, a few immediately stand out, among them this collection entirely in te reo by Te Kaahu which is helmed by Theia (Waikato-Tainui, Ngaati Tiipaa).
Among the outstanding songs here are the restful Pacific roll of the lovely Rangirara which echoes both popular Hawaiian sounds of the Fifties and traditional Maori choirs, and the pure pop seduction of Pai Maarire.
The albums opens with the title track – a brief choral invitation – and the chip of an acoustic guitar takes us into E Hine E, a new lullaby-like waiata by Theia which is a song of support and reassurance for young women.
Throughout, her layered vocals -- supplying her own harmonies -- elevate these songs into a kind of holy ambience, as on He Himene which at once sounds beamed in from the Forties but also utterly contemporary.
Theia's rare gift is to be able to meld the past and present in songs which hit the heart (Taupiri) but also chime with pop culture (Waikato).
The messages here are of peace, hurt and reconciliation, and optimism as we enter a new era where te reo and Maori sovereignty are no longer a debating point but a reality.
Produced by Jol Mulholland at The Lab – with Theia co-producing some of the songs – this album is slated to come out on vinyl later in the year and that will be something to possess. Not just for the music but the gorgeous, framable cover.
Meantime you can sample and buy it here.
This album will be performed live at the first official Te Kaahu show in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland at the Tuning Fork on June 24 – marking Aotearoa’s inaugural Matariki public holiday.
“I’m honoured to perform my album for the first time,” says Theia, “which is also the first year Matariki is observed as a national celebration. Matariki represents rebirth, gathering together and remembering our dearly departed; these are also the themes explored in Te Kaahu O Rangi.”