A song entirely in te reo Maori usurped one of pop's biggest superstars and rocketed to the top of the iTunes charts.

Maimoatia - meaning Cherish It - is a gospel-like song which aims to promote the language during Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori, and it went straight to number one in the New Zealand iTunes charts, bumping Justin Timberlake from the top spot.

Nathaniel Howe, who is one of the singers, told the Guardian the purpose of the song was to empower young New Zealanders to "own the language".

"We feel that it's our responsibility to keep it alive. A lot of young Maori don't speak the language because they are shy and fearful of making mistakes with it."

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It bounced Timberlake's Can't Stop the Feeling from the top spot.

Te Haumihiata Mason is a te reo expert who worked in creation of the song, and told the Guardian it makes the language "vibrant".

"Te reo is my first language and I will never give up on it, my grandchildren and great-grandchildren have every right to speak their native tongue," she said.