Protest Song Maranga Ake Ai Re-released
A 1980s Māori protest song used to revitalise the 2020 Māori Party movement will be re-released –35 years after its initial release.
Maranga Ake Ai was released in 1985 by pioneer Māori reggae band Aotearoa. That track features now Supreme Court Judge Justice Sir Joe Williams on vocals, who also co-wrote the song.
Māori Party Tamaki Makaurau candidate John Tamihere – who was at Auckland University during the Māori renascence of the 1980s – knew the lyrics would strike a chord with Māori today and approached Sir Joe’s representatives for permission to use the track to galvanise the new Māori Party movement.
“Māori have always gravitated to reggae music and Sir Joe’s lyrics are as relevant today as they were when he penned this in the 1980s. Sir Joe was among a new wave young educated Māori behind our cultural revival,” Tamihere said.
“Thankfully Sir Joe’s people were gracious enough to allow the Māori Party to re-record the track and use it as part of our 2020 election campaign.”
The job of refreshing the much-loved waiata for the Māori Party was given to Whanganui musician Baz Muir who heads the reggae band, NLC.
“I was over the moon when I was asked to re-record and reproduce it,” Muir said.
“It was really a big honour because it’s such a well-known song and I remember my parents, who were also musicians, playing it live back in the day.”
Muir spent a lot of time listening to the original recording before adding the “NLC” flavour to it.
“We worked on it in our studio in Whanganui for about a month, listening to the original track numerous times, making sure we can get that same sort of feel,” he said.
“It was such an enjoyable project to work on.”
Muir was lead vocals on the song and had help from NLC band members including his multi-talented daughter Shaye Muir (keyboards, vocals) and Marcel Martin (guitarist, vocals).
“We know this song is about people standing up for their rights, speaking out for Māori people.
Muir said people had approached him asking to buy a copy of the song. That happens today (November 6, 2020) when the song is officially released – again.
“We worked on the song, getting its sound right, and it was mastered by Chris Chetland at Kog Studios near Auckland.”
A video was also released for the waiata.
NLC won the Best Roots-Reggae title at the 2019 National Waiata Māori Music Awards and is now working under the Waatea Music label.
The band released its fifth album in July 2020 and is working on a collection of about six te reo Māori songs for a new EP in the near future.