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Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Maori musicians' Olympic song for Rio

Wellington singer Kirsten Te Rito helped produce Ana Hi! with her pianist husband James Illingworth. Photo / Warren Buckland
Wellington singer Kirsten Te Rito helped produce Ana Hi! with her pianist husband James Illingworth. Photo / Warren Buckland

Some of New Zealand's leading Maori musicians have created a song in te reo Maori to inspire Kiwi athletes at the Olympics.

Ana Hi!, produced by Wellington singer-songwriter Kirsten Te Rito and her pianist husband James Illingworth, cuts from scenes of a classic New Zealand beach to an aerial shot of Rio, from kapa haka performers to our leading Olympians in action.

Maori Language Commission spokeswoman Renee Ritete said it was the first time a song had been written in te reo Maori for the Olympic squad.

It was written by a number of commission staff led by its new chief executive Ngahiwi Apanui, whose musical career started when he co-founded the Maori-speaking band Aotearoa in 1984.

"Ana Hi! was commissioned by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori [Maori Language Commission] and is performed by Wellington kapa haka group Nga Taonga Mai Tawhiti," Ritete said.

"[They] are supported by an all-star line-up of Shapeshifter's Darren Mathiassen on drums, award winning Maori singer Kirsten Te Rito, Lisa Tomlins of Lord Echo [and] Maori performer and singer Jason Te Patu."

She said the NZ Olympic Committee would play the song at their team function the night before the Games opening ceremony as a music track over a video mash-up of their training for the Games.

The song will also play when NZ medal winners walk into the "NZ Club", their hospitality house at the Games.

- NZ Herald

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