Topic: Te Reo Māori

An insight into the mind of a prolific songwriter

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes
  • North Island: East Coast

Kuini Moehau Reedy is a storehouse of knowledge, a creative composer of music who is maintaining the essence of the unique dialect of her people.

“The majority of the compositions are related to our home, to our authority over our land, the water is speaking, the mountains and the cliffs are calling within the songs."

Reedy weaves words unique to her Ngāti Porou tribe throughout her compositions.

“Shearing sheep, felling trees, gathering seafood, that's where the language is flowing and when they return to dish out the food those words are being used."

A long-time composer of songs for children at kōhanga reo through to secondary school students, she's also a driving force behind Hikurangi kapa haka.

Reedy was born in 1941 at the time of WWII when marae on the East Coast were reverberating with wartime songs.

She says that although styles change the foundations of song remain true.

“We're still going back to Māui, despite the number of compositions about Māui we are still able to go back but the perspective is different today, we draw the spirit of Māui into us.”

The physical and spiritual environment of the region informs the creative process.

“I went back to Horoera to give the paddle crab a voice, to give the pack horse crayfish a voice.  You see, that's the land speaking to us.”

Reedy encourages the generation of today to draw on their cultural heritage and express themselves through song.