To mark Maori Language Week next week, NZ On Screen Content Director Irene Gardiner takes a look back at the songs and music videos that took te reo Maori to the top of the pop charts.

Deane Waretini - The Bridge

The first song sung in te reo to top the New Zealand singles chart was Deane Waretini's The Bridge, released in 1981. It was written by Waretini's cousin, Te Arawa elder George Tait - the melody was based on Italian Nini Rosso's 1965 hit Il Silenzi, but the lyrics refer to the linking of Pakeha and Maori cultures at the time of the construction of the Mangere Bridge. The music video features the famous valve tower turret, at Wellington's historic Karori reservoir.

You can see the music video for The Bridge here:
The Bridge

Prince Tui Teka - E Ipo

A year after the success of The Bridge, Sir Howard Morrison's Maori version of How Great Thou Art was also a chart-topper. You can see the song being performed in this TV special from 1995. Then, in 1983, the legendary Prince Tui Teka hit the number one spot with E Ipo. The song was based on a traditional Indonesian folk melody, and was written by Teka and celebrated Maori songwriter Ngoi Pewhairangi, when he was courting her niece (and his future wife) Missy. The song has become a Kiwi classic. This performance is from a TVNZ special, recorded at Auckland's Mandalay Ball-room.

View E Ipo here:
E Ipo

The Patea Maori Club - Poi-E

In 1984, a year on from E Ipo's chart success, another enduring favourite New Zealand song came along to take te reo Maori to the top of the charts again - the legendary Poi-E, by the Patea Maori Club. Led by the charismatic singer-songwriter and producer, Dalvanius Prime, the Maori cultural group melded poi and break-dancing and held the number one spot for four weeks. The song later became the year's biggest single. In 2010, the song re-entered the charts courtesy of the film Boy, and it is about to be the subject of a feature film in its own right.

You can see the Poi-E music video here:

Moana and the Moahunter - AEIOU

Released in 1991, Moana and the Moahunter's AEIOU wasn't a chart-topper, but it does have an-other distinction in our musical history - it had the first music video to be funded by New Zealand on Air. The song is a plea for Maori youth to preserve their culture by learning the reo - it also dou-bles as a handy guide to Maori pronunciation. Music video director Kerry Brown created vibrant animated backgrounds to match the song's hip-hop beats.


Watch AEIOU here:

Stan Walker, Ria Hall, Troy Kingi and Maisey Rika - Aotearoa


was the last te reo song to hit number one. Aware of this fact, broadcaster Matai Rangi Smith thought it would be good to attempt to repeat the feat. He co-opted singer Stan Walker, who wrote the song


for the project along with fellow singers Troy Kingi, Vince Harder and Ria Hall. The song was launched for last year's Maori Language Week, but the team eventually had to settle for the number two spot on the charts. The music video for


is a showcase of Kiwi scenery and musical talent, led by main vocalist Walker.

You can see it here: