Anna Coddington Releases New Te Reo EP
Anna Coddington returns with Mana-Wā-Hine, a new EP featuring a collection of waiata performed in te reo Māori. Released today as Mahuru Māori/Māori Language Month draws to a close, the release features the new title track, alongside four tracks originally performed on her acclaimed album Beams, translated into te reo Māori by Scotty & Stacey Morrison.
The release features the title track Mana-Wā-Hine, co-written with Ria Hall. The title itself brings a play on the words ‘Manawa Hine’ - heart of a girl - and ‘Mana Wāhine’ - mana of women. The release also arrives accompanied by artwork from Pōneke-based artist Te Kahureremoa Taumata inspired directly by the track, depicting three feminine figures dancing in the rain on the chest of Papatūanuku.
Mana-Wā-Hine represents a step in Coddington’s ongoing journey with the language, with no one better to kōrero to that than herself -
"I find myself lost for words in trying to summarise what it means for me to release an EP in te reo Māori. The journey of language reclamation for Māori is a complex thing - enriching & exhilarating as it is arduous and painful. I have, clearly, always been Māori. And Pākeha. But if a continuum of Māoriness could be analogised by putting “growing up near your marae, doing kapa haka & speaking te reo” at one end and “listening to Nirvana, starting an alt-pop band & spending 6 years of your life learning Japanese” at the other, I was the embodiment of the latter.
I didn’t grow up with te reo. It was my Koko/Grandfather’s first language but like many of his generation, after being physically punished for speaking Māori as a child, he understandably didn’t want his children to experience the same. The song ‘Night Class/Akoranga Pō’ is about this. Of course the tide is slowly turning on those attitudes, and many in my generation are putting their kids into Māori language education so they don’t have to spend their twenties, thirties and forties in night classes trying to bend their minds around i/ki, a/o, whakataukī & other concepts of te reo Māori that tell us so much about how our ancestors perceived the world.
My own reo Māori journey has been long & inconsistent. When I had children and put them into kōhanga reo, it was the catalyst for me to get back in the waka and paddle hard. It also gave me the invaluable gift of horopaki reo Māori - Māori language contexts. I’ve lived in central Auckland for 20 years- it’s not exactly bursting with opportunities to be immersed in te reo. So for me, the current fleet of waiata reo Māori is another branch on the fire, feather on the wing - some other metaphor that if my reo were better I’d know instinctively… It all helps shift that attitudinal tide and I’m proud to add another 5 tunes to it. The more my kids are hearing te reo outside the school gates, the more likely they are to use it in the world.
I am not the first to have some of their album songs reimagined into Māori for an EP (someone else did it quite recently actually you may have seen), and any such mahi comes courtesy of the hard mahi and sacrifices of so many in the past, fighting for te reo even as colonisation was trying to extinguish it, singing in te reo way before the rest of us realised it was cool. More than cool - vital, replenishing, necessary.
Heoi anō, I’m happy to say I can now “speak Māori”, whatever that means. I can say things in Māori. It won’t always be correct and it won’t be the most elegant way of saying it but *shrugs* ahakoa he iti pounamu (although small, it is precious). Of course there is no right or wrong way to be Māori. Having a little reo in my roro (brain) doesn’t make me any more Māori than I was before, or any less Māori than those at the marae/kapa haka/reo end of my ridiculous continuum. My grasp of the language is not such that I’m comfortable writing songs in Māori. Not yet. That’s why the title track was written with Ria Hall and the rest were translated from my album Beams by Scotty Te Manahau and Stacey Morrison. The beauty of te reo Māori and the envious grasp they have on our reo matahīapo speaks for itself in these songs. To try and explain in English all the amazing translations would take (more) pages.
Hei whakakapi - to finish off - the previously unreleased title track Mana-Wā-Hine is a play on the words Manawa Hine - heart of a girl - and Mana Wāhine - mana of women. I had been reading about atua wāhine- female Māori gods. They were largely sidelined or demonised with colonisation and it’s bff the patriarchy, but were numerous and powerful in te ao Māori. I wanted the song to be a reminder to all hine and wāhine Māori that we descend from gods. That even though, like women of colour everywhere, we get the short end of most statistical sticks, we all whakapapa to greatness and our mana is inalienable. Ria helped me to capture it simply and perfectly. Wellington-based, multidisciplinary artist Te Kahureremoa Taumata honoured the kaupapa with her artwork.
We’re sneaking this release in for the last day of Mahuru Māori/Māori language month/September. It’s been great to see the swell of waiata reo Māori this month! Long may it continue ia marama, ia wiki, ia rā- every month, every week, every day. Kia kaha te reo Māori. Thanks for reading if you got this far.
Scotty Te Manahau rāua ko Stacey Morrison - Kei ngā kai whakaniko kupu, kāore e ārikarika ngā mihi ki a kōrua i tā kōrua whakapau kaha ki te whakarauora i tō tātou reo rangatira, me ngā kupu puiaki o te kaupapa nei.
Ria - Kei taku mete, e rere ana ngā tai o Mihi! He pou whirinaki koe i ēnei haerenga uaua e rua- te whai i te reo me te whai i te ara rorirori o te ao pūoro.
Te Kahureremoa - Tēnei te mihi nui ki a koe e hoa mōu i homai i tāu pikitia ātaahua rirerire. Nāu te wairua o ēnei whakaaro matarau i hopukina ki te whakaahua kotahi.
Nāku iti nei,"
Anna Coddington (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa)
Anna Coddington - Mana-Wā-Hine
- ‘Aho / Beams’
- ‘Hōhonu Ake / Dive’
- ‘Akoranga Pō / Night Class’
- ‘Mahara Mai / Remember Me’
Out now digitally
Stream / download HERE