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Published April 12, 2019

This moving tribute was performed by Marlon Williams (Ngāi Tahu) at New Zealand’s National Remembrance Service for the victims of the Christchurch (Otāutahi) mosque terror attack on Friday 15 March 2019.

Ngāi Tahu = people of Tahu

New Zealand’s news website Stuff published comment from Williams, explaining his reasons for choosing this beautiful waiata.


Williams said he chose the song after reflecting on his own response to the attacks. As the news updates rolled in, he realised he knew very few Muslims in his home city, and that gave him a degree of distance from the attack. He chose the waiata, with its lyrics about the history and geography of Ōtautahi, as a way of enveloping the dead into the story of the land.

Stuff Story by Hayden Donnell, published 13 April 2019

Words and Translation
Tahu Potiki taku tupuna
I acknowledge you my tupuna Tahu Potiki
Hoki wairua mai arohaina e
May your spirit descend lovingly upon we
Ki o uri e karanga ake ra
Your present generation. We call for your
Aratakina to iwi aue
Guidance as we seek the ancestral path to our heritage

Aoraki te maunga Ariki
We acknowledge our sacred mountain, Aoraki
Hei whakamaru te iwi kei raro
Whose stately presence provides a sheltering haven for us below
Takitimu waka whakairo
Takitimu our sacred waka may continue
Hoea hoea ra e moana
Your voyage upon the sea of life

Aue e koro e
Hei whakamahana
You give us tribal warmth and pride
Kore rawa koe e warewaretia
You will never be forgotten, you are our identity
Huakina mai ra ki o tamariki
Show us your children
Nga tikanga o nga matua tipuna
The teachings of our ancestors

Aoraki te maunga Ariki
We acknowledge our sacred mountain, Aoraki
Hei whakamaru te iwi kei raro
Whose stately presence provides a sheltering haven for us below
Takitimu waka whakairo
Takitimu our sacred waka may continue
Hoea hoea ra te moana
Your voyage upon the sea of life

Ngai Tahu te iwi ki Te Waipounamu
To all Kai Tahu descendants of Te Waipounamu
Maranga mai Maranga Mai
Rise up and stand tall

Source: Delma Rae, Youtube

How Otāutahi got its name

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