New Music Reviews

Lorde’s Ep Te Ao Mārama: Celebrating First Nations’ Language in Music

Recently, Lorde contacted Maori community elders, fellow NZ musicians and her family about recording a new EP. A team of Maori language experts and elders met with Lorde and painstakingly translated five tracks from Solar Power into Maori. Lorde’s use of Maori is in line with the prominent role the language and culture plays in New Zealand society. The language is found on signs along side English, within the country’s national anthem and widely said within the community. This focus on Maori within New Zealand is in response to white centred legislation in the 1970s meant to eradicate Maori culture.

Having said that, the first nations Maori people are still widely discriminated against within the music industry. Maori people are consistently paid less than their white colleagues and Maori is rarely heard on commercial radio. In response to these inequalities, Lorde wanted to feature Maori in a culturally respectful way, which is why she consulted with community elders. She admits that she was “out of my depth,” but wanted to connect with New Zealand’s indigenous heritage and celebrate the language.

Listening to the EP really highlights the beautiful and poetic nature of Maori. There is no one – to – one translation between Maori and English, so the translation is meant to capture the feeling and spirit of the lyrics. For example, the title Te Ao Mārama is not a direct translation of Solar Power, but means “world of light.” The tracks featured on the EP are: The Path, Solar Power, Stoned at the Nail Salon, Fallen Fruit and Oceanic Feeling. Each song takes on a whole new vibe and is interesting to listen to in comparison to the English originals.

Proceeds from the sale of Te Ao Mārama go to New Zealand based charities Forest and Bird, as well as Te Hua Kawariki Charitable Trust. Moreover, the EP features two New Zealand artists of Maori descent: Bic Runga and Marlon Williams. So, get some great music, support some amazing New Zealand charities and learn about the Maori language.

Listen to Te Ao Mārama

1 comment on “Lorde’s Ep Te Ao Mārama: Celebrating First Nations’ Language in Music

  1. Pingback: Prime Time Jukebox Episode 49: The Jazz Show – CigarJukebox

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