When someone tells you they're about to perform a Maori song, you don't usually expect drums, electric guitar, and head banging.

Northland band Alien Weaponry have put a twist on the traditional Maori waiata with what they believe may be the first heavy metal song in te reo Maori - Ruana Te Whenua.

"If you think about haka how similar is it to metal? It is really really similar to metal with the intensity and the emphasis on how loud and heavy it is and how much it punches you in the chest," said 15-year-old drummer Henry de Jong.

"The haka was designed to scare off the enemy and we've been at some gigs where bands have scared people off," added his brother - guitarist and vocalist Lewis de Jong, 13.


The two brothers are of Ngati Pikiao and Ngati Raukawa descent. They both went to full Maori immersion kura when they were younger and both parents, including their Dutch mother, speak fluent te reo Maori. The third member Ethan Trembath, 13, who plays bass is also of Maori descent.

Their Maori song is about their great-great-great grandfather, Te Aho Aho, who died fighting in the Battle of Gate Pa in Tauranga in 1845.

"It follows the story - not only the lyrics but the music. It starts off really punchy like gunfire and that's the British bombarding the gates with artillery, it was the heaviest artillery bombardment that happened in the Northern War, they pretty much fired for a whole 24 hours and rushed in and the song goes into a quiet bit and it flows with what happens in the story," said Henry.

Alien Weaponry Live at the Powerstation:

The boys first performed the song when opening for Shihad at the Powerstation in May. They say it is the best song they've written but admitted people were a little confused at first.

"People were like 'what are they doing' then we started singing Maori and everyone was like 'is that a Maori song?'," said Lewis.

The brothers said Te Wiki o te reo Maori and Maori culture were "really important".

"A lot of people don't appreciate the fact it's a big part of New Zealand culture. A lot who don't speak Maori and who don't have a lot to do with Maori people and Maori culture don't realise how much of an effect it has on what we do today."

Maori Language Week continues until Sunday.