thoughts on music, design and literature

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Origin Of 'Kia Hora Te Marino'... Discovered!

Those of you who have Calling All Dawns know that the lyrics to the last song 'Kia Hora Te Marino' are simply attributed as a Maori proverb.  That's because neither I nor my Maori lyricist, Jerome Kavanagh, could trace back the origin of the proverb.  It's all over the internet, yet no one could point to the original source.

Well, earlier this week I received a very interesting message on Facebook from a young woman named Noeline.  She told me that she was the descendent of the Maori prophet who wrote the original text, and told me the story behind the proverb.  She also told me that the widely circulated version on the internet is truncated.  The original text has a few more (beautiful) lines, and she shared them with me.  While she asked that the story behind the proverb be kept a secret (as it is very dear to her family), she gave me permission to share the full lyrics with the rest of the world, as well as to attribute their origin.  Here's the full text:

Kia hora te marino
kia whakapapa pounamu te moana
kia tere te karohirohi
i mua i tou huarahi
Haere e tama haere

Let Peace be widespread
Let the sea glisten like the greenstone
May your path be straight
Like the flight of the dove
Go in Peace and with my blessings Moko 

The Author: Rangawhenua
Hapu (Sub-Tribe): Ngaati Pahere
Iwi (Main Tribe): Ngaati Manaiapoto
Marae (Home): Te Koura Putaroa Marae
Place: Taumarunui, Aotearoa (New Zealand)

So there you have it.  The power of the internet led me to discover the proverb in the first place, and after I set it to music, the power of the internet led the descendants of Rangawhenua to contact me.  And now hopefully though the power of the internet, the author of the text will be rightfully credited with his own words.


Anonymous Miss G said...

I must write this again, hope I get it the same as before!!! Everytime I listen to "Calling All Dawns' I wonder where you got the lyrics, what country and what inspired you to write this beautiful music. Now I know about the last song, I'd like to know what every song on the CD says in English. Where are you from?
I think you should change your name to Christopher Mozart!!! You are a "MASTER!"

November 27, 2010 at 1:40 AM

Anonymous Stuart Balcomb said...

I love when that happens. The Internet helped identify a person in a photo that belongs to my wife, as well as flesh out more info behind the bigger story:

December 30, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

I love your album. I didn't think I would like music like this until I heard Baba Yetu. After it raised the hair on the back of my neck I decided to buy your album from your website and have been enjoying it everyday. Thanks for the post about the origin of the lyrics. It just makes me appreciate it even more. I'll be buying a few more copies of your album as gifts for my family.

February 23, 2011 at 8:20 PM

Anonymous Terry Cole said...

The person who contacted you might well have been a descendant of tohunga (not prophet) Rangawhenua Tawhaki except that the text given is very dodgy. As originally formulated by Rangawhenua it went like this: "kia hora te marino, kia whakapapapounamu te moana, ka tere te karohirohi". That's a huge change from the text supplied by the descendant;

"Kia hora te marino
kia whakapapa pounamu te moana
kia tere te karohirohi
i mua i tou huarahi
Haere e tama haere".

The real problem is with the English translation. The last line means something like "Rest in peace" (you see it on Maori gravestones) - emphatically it does not mean "Go in Peace and with my blessings Moko".

"Moko" is a Maori tattoo especially as applied to face. It makes no sense in this context. However, a few years ago there was a very famous Dolphin, Moko, who entertained swimmers on the East coast of the North Island. He died in 2010 and I suspect the modified last line dates from that time only.

May 2, 2011 at 7:30 PM

Blogger Erik4016 said...

This song should be used somewhere in the upcoming 2011 rugby world cup in New Zealand; either in the opening or closing ceremony.

July 9, 2011 at 9:25 AM

Blogger hula said...

Moko can also be translated as Mokopuna, grandchild.

August 27, 2011 at 4:34 PM

Blogger Sargon said...

Something is indeed wrong with last two lines of the proverb.
I only studied Maori for a month or two, but I think a more literal translation of the Maori would probably run something like:
Let the calm spread out
Let the sea be laid flat like a green stone!
Let the continual weeping(?) be widespread
Before your path!
Go son! go!

That said, the music is simply gorgeous.

December 12, 2011 at 10:29 PM

Blogger haven said...

tahts mi family, noelines mi aunty and this was said to one of the maori kings and this was told tu mi by mi koro who was told by his koro hu was rangawhenuas grandson

December 29, 2011 at 10:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If only you's knew the story behind the whakatauki "proverb" then you would understand fully why the last lines are different. Karohirohi is our Whare tipuna of Te Koura Putaroa, Ngati Pahere. The story behind the whakatauki fits every word my Aunty gave, and to rephrase "moko" is also grandchild, just short for "mokopuna" ka pai? marama? -.-

December 5, 2012 at 9:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Moko' is also the word for mokopuna or grandchild. The presence of 'tama' meaning son or male child is in this category of meaning. The facial moko is emphatically not what is meant in this context. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, no?

June 11, 2015 at 3:36 AM

Anonymous NWTA said...

It was a proverb spoken over one of our tupuna by his tupuna prior to him venturing overseas. in the 1800s. This is why the structure is as it is and the last two lines are appropriate to that time and kaupapa.

August 17, 2015 at 1:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, it comes from Ngāti Maniapoto/Ngāti Rereahu. But although Rangawhenua might well have been the name of one of our tupuna, when people say this is "nā ranga whenua", it literally means, drawn from the land... in other words its originates from the people who lived/live in the King Country/Maniapoto region of New Zealand's North Island. It's a lot older than someone who died recently, and is much more likely to have been the final farewell wishes before a sea journey much earlier than the 19th century. And yes, prophet's probably not quite the right word, tohunga isn't strictly a "prophet", not everything in māori is so spacey - in very practical terms, tohunga are oftentimes just very respected, senior, knowledgeable, historian and advisor type people in the family, and they dedicate a lot of their lives to preserving a families genealogy and records, including oral histories etc of their region and their accompanying relations etc and so are called on to provide perspective to any issues, new or old. And 10 points for trying but, moko is of course grandchild in this context.

April 18, 2016 at 7:13 PM

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Blogger Unknown said...

Tautoko! Moko as in mokopuna.

July 25, 2017 at 3:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kia ora, I remember a kōrero also from Uncle Tui Adams saying that in 1884 Tawhiao (2nd Māori King) had sought counsel of his koroua regarding a journey to England to seek audience with the British monarchy. One of this tīpuna he sought counsel of was Ōrangawhenua of Te Koura. The extended kōrero imparted to Tawhiao by the kōroua was, "Haere e tama haere, Ko tō hoa haere ko te rangimarie", meaning "Go my son and may your constant companion be peace and goodwill to those whom you encounter." Kingi Tawhiao did travel to Ingarangi but did not receive an audience with the Queen. But that's another kōrero...

August 13, 2017 at 12:56 AM

Blogger Be-bopa-lula said...

Ko Armand Crown, no Ngati Rereahu.

The Tawhiao thing came later for which the words were changed to suit a new purpose. Initially, our tupuna Rangawhenua wrote the whakatauki for his own people Ngati Paahere. I noticed in an earlier comment a whanaunga (relative) did attempt to set you straight about the whakatauki, but to no avail. The original included this final phrase "Kia tere te karohirohi i runga kia tatou katoa". The closest contemporary meaning for "karohirohi" is a "kind of vision"after which the wharenui/meeting house at Te Koura is named. The reasons behind this phrase, indeed the entire whakatauki relate to personal circumstances involving the tribe at the time. As Te Reo Maori operates metonymically kupu or words "stand for" rather than translate literally into english equivalents. In this whakatauki Rangiwhenua ascribes several layers of meanng whereby the words and phrases are more than the sum of their parts, as in pars pro toto or He whakapoupou ana nga tini korero i roto i te kupu kotahi in te reo Maori. These intricately interwoven meanings educate and arouse strong emotions in many of us, his descendants as we realise the depth of his wisdom. Sadly, not unlike many ancient intellectuals he's overlooked today by Maori and Non Maori alike. Making it even more disappointing no matter how unwittingly, to see one of the few treasures he left us misappropriated with its meaning distorted to suit a foreign purpose. Why didn't you just write your own words?

March 2, 2018 at 1:55 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

The words of this whakatauki was spoken to King Tawhiao who visited Rangawhenua at Te Koura Putaroa Marae before King Tawhiao travelled abroad to visit the King of England. It was to wish King Tawhiao a safe journey.

KIA HORA TE MARINO KIA WHAKAPAPA POUNAMU TE MOANA KIA TERE TE KĀROHIROHI I MUA I TÕU HUARAHI. (May the calm be widespread, may the ocean glisten as greenstone, may the shimmer of light ever dance across your pathway).

December 31, 2018 at 2:05 AM

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The text has always bothered me - I have never heard a New Zealander say Kia Hora - it's always Kia Ora, or more likely Ki'ora.

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