Lorde Released An EP In Te Reo, And We Are Here For It
Following her recent release of her latest sun-inspired folk medley album Solar Power, Lorde has come out with a mini-album of five tracks in Te Reo Māori – and we are all over it.
The Kiwi singer describes the album as a starting point of a new journey, titled Te Ao Mārama, meaning “world of light”. A spinoff of Solar Power, “mai te pō ki te ao mārama”, the album aims to encapsulate the transition from night to the enlightened world that comprises part of the Māori creation narrative (along the lines of Adam and Eve’s apple – where the concept of knowledge is a good thing). To make it even better – the proceeds of the sales of the album will go to two New Zealand charities – Forest & Bird and Te Hua Kawariki Charitable Trust.
When asked what inspired the album, Lorde said it began last year, when she started thinking what it meant to be an “ambassador” for her country, realising her ties to a beloved swimming spot had much deeper meaning. She spoke about jumping off of Bulli Point, something that her dad had done, and her grandfather, and something she hoped her children would do – “that feeling of being in a body of water that you have a generational connection to”.
“I was writing an album about the spiritual power of the natural world, specifically in the context of where we’re from, and I realised; oh, there’s a word for this – it’s kaitiakitanga.” The word represents an integral role Māori play in protecting the natural world, of which we are an interconnected part.
While some Māori artists and songwriters have large followings in Aotearoa, it’s far from common to hear indigenous languages on commercial radio. Alongside that, the question of what is right and wrong is a complex one – there is a cohort that believes Te Reo Māori should only be spoken by the indigenous people. Feeling let down by her upbringing in Tāmaki Makaurau and the lack of education and knowledge around Te Reo Maori, Lorde said paying tribute to tangata whenua was an important step to take.
“It’s kind of scary to start any journey, but I guess that’s my thing; I am at the very beginning, and this project is a starting point. It felt really big when we were doing it. It was heavy. It was really emotional. I’d never had any writing or recording experience like it. It was really powerful.”
Photos by Ophelia Mikkelson Jones