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The Power of Waiata

Posted 02 07 2019

in News

Damian Powley
Damian Powley
Nā Damian Powley i tuhi


Ngā mihi mahana o Matariki me te tau hou, ki te whānau whanui o NZILA Tuia Pito Ora!

While we reflect on the year past, and look to the year ahead, it is also a mid-winter opportunity to set some new goals. (and perhaps re-invigorate those ‘resolutions’ from January....).

I would like to put a shout out reminder and encouragement to our Institutes waiata – Tuia Pito Ora, to sit somewhere near the top of your list.

You may know the song already, and already have it down pat; pai rawe to those of you – tau ke! For those who may not be quite there yet, hopefully this can be a little bit of an encouragement – a pep talk to say haere tonu koutou – keep going, keep practicising, and keep giving it a shot.

It is a bit of a tricky one - I can understand that. And it will take a lot of practice – a lot of practice if you really want to bed it in. Most of all – it will take a level of commitement if you really want to be able to sing it with confidence. You will make mistakes along the way – many I expect. And even when you think you might have it all sussed out – it will throw you a curve ball in the heat of the moment.

If you are still learning our waiata Tuia Pito Ora– please dont let that put you off – a bit of hard mahi is a good thing, and it helps us all to learn and grow. Matariki is a great time to check in on that, review where we are and set some intentions for the next few months – and you never know when you may need a good waiata..... (not long till conference....)

So – for those still learning (I thnk that is all of us) perhaps some ‘hot tips’ may help ease the process – and provide a goodd Matariki wero too:

1)     Give yourself time: it will take time, effort and commitment to learn our waiata. Its not something you can learn the night before; although four months until conference should be plenty, if you:

2)     Break it down: and take it in parts – I suggest two lines at a time (this helps keep the melody as well). Have a small cue card – keep it in your pocket / on your phone what ever works for you. A quick reference (1 min at most is all that’s needed) and regularly pull it out a couple of times throughout the day – it makes a huge difference! Maybe use a trigger – every time I grab a coffee always reminds me to pull out my cue card while it brews.... Its also a great conversation starter in the cafe queue. Try it – it works. And once you have those two lines nailed:

3)     Add on the next two lines. Write up another cue card – and keep working on the new lines until you are ready to start building on from the previous. Breaking it down into small wallet size chunks is far less daunting, and far more rewarding as you see progress. One part may be tricky – it may take a few days – it may take a week – but it will sink in. Keep practicing and repeating.

4)     Phone a friend: Utilise our collective power – and share your process with a like-minded friend – its also a nice way to stay in touch. Maybe with someone you can check in once a week with someone you already see regularly, or perhpas someone you can phone at the end of the country. Practice and check in once a week – sing it on the phone. Encourage and remind eacch other. Try it – it works. Before you know it, you will be a big chunk of the way through the song. Ring that friend – you know who they are....

5)     Keep going: you will make mistake, and at times it will be frustrating. But if you keep going, you will improve, and before you know it, when it comes (4 months till conference time) you will be ready.

Note: all lyrics and recording can be found here, with background and intention of the waiata. It is a beautiful waiata, composed with meaning and heart by Lynette Tawha.

Note: conference is not that far away....


Words by Damian Powley (Ngāi Tai). Damian is a Landscape Architect with Isthmus Auckland and a member of Te Tau-a-Nuku; the Maori Landscape Architect’s Ropu which is part of Nga Aho.