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Muriwhenua Waiata holds her place at the top of pop for weeks

Papa’s Pack from Far North whānau performs at Ngati Kuri’s #HIKOITO100 music festival in May. They were then approached by the iwi to redo the much-loved local anthem. Photo / Provided

A popular waiata in the Far North [song] celebrating all the Far North iwi is a hit around the motu [country]sat atop the charts for over a month.

Muriwhenua Waiata‘, sung by Papa’s Pack from Far North whānau, was released earlier this year and is featured on the 2022 album Waiata Anthems.

In the past five weeks, the track made it into the top 10 on the Te Reo singles chart and had over 100,000 streams.

The waiata is a celebration of the five iwi of the Far North – Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa, Ngāi Takoto and Ngāti Kahu, and emphasizes the importance of being one.

Although well known across the rohe [region]’Muriwhenua Waiata’ has never been available for digital streaming until now.

The anthem’s release came after Ngāti Kuri approached Papa’s Pack to redesign the Muriwhenua Waiata and release it as a single following their impressive performance at the iwi #HIKOITO100 music festival in May.

Ngāti Kuri Trust Board Executive Director Sheridan Waitai said the waiata
celebrated the ōhāki [last wishes] by Muriwhenua tupuna [ancestors] in a special and inspiring way.

“The release of this well-known anthem ‘Muriwhenua Waiata’ is for Te Tai Tokerau to enjoy, sing together and use to reflect on this time of year,” Waitai said.

“We remember what our tūpuna worked hard for and what we continue to work towards today. We hope this single will remind us of that.

“We are proud of the mahi [work] we have accomplished as a collective, and this waiata shows our commitment through our five iwi, guided by the underlying principles of our hīkoi – being a good tūpuna.”

The release of the song comes 50 years after the Maori language petition was delivered to Parliament.

‘Muriwhenua Waiata’ was composed by Ngāti Kuri kaumātua Ross Norman with his
sisters Saana Waitai-Murray and Te Paea Waitai.

Four generations later, the single is now sung and recorded by one of their mokopuna [grandchildren]Kapowairua Waitai, 14, who is one of the lead singers of Papa’s Pack.

The Adams whānau formed the band in 2019 to commemorate the passing of their grandfather, Carlton Adams, aka “Dad” – the band’s namesake.

Waitai said that through this waiata, the group hoped to promote the importance of building iwi resilience and that all iwi continue to cluster in the Muriwhenua area.

“We’re very proud, especially to be able to experience something like this with our whānau,” Waitai said.

“I haven’t met my nanny [Te Paea Waitai]but hopefully she would be proud of us and the way we reshaped the song while maintaining meaning and originality.

“It’s buzzy like, not only sharing my whakapapa with Muriwhenua, but with the rest of the motu [country] and the kupu [words] my great-grandparents left for us.

“I want to give a big mihi [thank you] to the iwi for allowing us to do this, and to everyone who has supported us along the way.”

Saana Waitai-Murray, one of the three waiata composers, was known for her efforts in establishing the Wai 262 treaty claim on flora, fauna and intellectual property rights.

With Wai 262 now recognized as a priority by the Crown, his mokopuna Hine Waitai-Dye said the aspirations and hopes of his great-grandparents were no different from those of his elders and his people today .

“The waiata reminds me to take my place and contribute to our collective iwi aspirations, which can only be achieved by working together,” Waitai-Dye said.

“We have come a long way as Ngāti Kuri, and we want to amplify that with our whānaunga [wider family].”

“Muriwhenua Waiata” is available on all major streaming platforms.