October 17, 2017
War songs carry Maori memory
World War 1 was 100 years ago, but some of the songs that spurred New Zealand soldiers in the trenches or comforted their loved ones on the home front are still sung today.
In a new book on the musical aspects of the war, author Chris Bourke has tracked down the 200 or so songs written during the war by New Zealanders.
The ones that survived were those written by Maori, especially by Paraire Tomoana of Hawke’s Bay.
He says what they originally sounded like can be glimpsed through hearing recordings of the 28 Maori Battalion in the desert during the Second World War.
"Here were these men singing Pari Ra, singing Hoea Ra, here are these men going into battle, the leadership of Maori is about to be decimated for a second time, and they are singing the songs their fathers sang – although we don't have recordings of their fathers singing those songs because the equipment didn't exist for them, it could be the men themselves at Gallipoli or on the Western Front," Mr Bourke says.
Goodbye Maoriland: The Songs and Sounds of New Zealand’s Great War is published by Auckland University Press.
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