Māori recognition is finally coming around as of late with Māori being (somewhat) accepted into the status quo of society and the country brewing with a sense of cultural recognition.
We’ve reached an era where cultural assimilation is one foot in the grave and assimilation of māori waiata into mainstream society is alive. With Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi becoming the new drunken night out jam and Poi E playing in the moment of stillness before acts come out to play in concerts, the emergence of te reo Māori and Māori songs in western medium has become significantly more prominent. The teaching of Māori waiata in primary schools boosts this recognition even more so with basic Māori vocabulary becoming more and more familiar to youth.
On March 7, the one and only ex-One Direction member, upcoming actor (with horrific acting skills) and solo artist in the music industry finally made his arrival to Aotearoa with a bang at Mount Smart Stadium. Introducing Harry Styles.
To say his visit was well awaited is an understatement. Crowding and line formation of adoring fans began at least 10 hours before his arrival to the stadium. Fans gathered in desperation after waiting 3 years for this concert with his first two tours being cancelled mainly due to covid. Excluding the fact that Harry’s performance was outstandingly remarkable—causing myself to retract remarks saying he has reached his downfall and is the epitome of cringe culture (post the take-off of his acting career and the release of his MV for “Music at a Sushi Restaurant”); most fans were surprised, including myself, about the fact that mid-performance the British indie-pop star somehow acquired a flag of Te Reo Rangatiratanga that then adorned his shoulders for the majority of his concert. Additionally, in between songs, Harry himself would start the song Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi with the crowd following on. To be quite honest, as a Māori Harry fan, I was tearing up to hear te reo Māori on his tongue as well as hearing the thousands of other fans piled into the stadium singing along.
This trail of events of Māori acknowledgement during the concert reminded me—if not simply informed me for the first time ever, just how far te iwi Māori has come as a whole since the major era of oppression and stigmatisation where te reo Māori was torn from hundreds of Māori children and late Māori speakers.
To see the transition of an absolute ban of te reo Māori to a world famous Singer and Songwriter singing in te reo Māori at his concert is incredibly impactful on the journey and fight Māori have been fighting.These events being recorded and posted on social media platforms pushed the impact further where many others of the wider Māori community could see for themselves just how much te reo has risen and just how fruitful the fight for te reo.
As we speak, te reo Māori is still in its revitalisation process and most likely will continue to be resuscitated into the mouths of the future, however, it’s moments like these that birth positivity and hope for Māori communities and make it all worthwhile.