Topic: Entertainment

Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody sung the Māori way

By Taroi Black
  • Northland

Universal Music Group New Zealand has collaborated with internet sensation William Wairua and Hātea Kapa Haka to perform a te reo Māori rendition of Queen's classic hit Bohemian Rhapsody. 

Hātea tutor Pauline Hopa said the group was approached by the company during their performance at the 2018 APRA Silver Scrolls Awards in Auckland.

The music video was a tribute to lead singer Freddie Mercury whose film Bohemian Rhapsody was premiered this month.

“The first thing I thought was ‘heck’ is this the real life or is it just fantasy…”

“I have always loved the song, Bohemian Rhapsody. But never in my life did I think that we would be part of something this big,” Hopa says. 

The music arrangement for this Māori-styled piece was conducted by David Tāpene. Lyrics were translated by his daughter Te Amohaere Morehu, Otene Hopa and Te Kāea's very own Te Taitokerau reporter Raniera Harrison.

Lyrics 'chorus':

English version

Māori version

Mama, just killed a man

Put a gun against his head

Pulled my trigger, now he's dead

Mama, he kōhuru

Toro atu ā ringa, puhia te tangata

“We only had two weeks to sort the song out with our group. We ran workshops for each part. So we really had to get the team molded because this was something new for us and some of our younger vocalists didn’t know the song. Once they did, it was like…woah!,” adds Hopa.

Filming took place at Waiwera, north of Auckland. The scene captured William Wairua attempting to push his flat car down the strip which led to Hātea appearing in the scene singing the Māori translations. Mrs Hopa recalls the neighbourhood watching on behind the scenes as their group sung live. 

Hātea Kapa Haka is based in Whangarei and are preparing for Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival in Wellington next year.

They have now adopted Bohemian Rhapsody as one of their warm up drills at practise.