10 June 2009

More Maori Pride

Moana & the Tribe: Wha
(Black Pearl)

Since her debut recording in 2002, Moana Maniapoto has been merging Maori traditions with popular music elements. Rap, soul, dance, and spoken-word blend with haka and traditional instruments and percussion. And there's usually a powerful cultural message within the song, about the importance of ancestors, the history of treaties, or the tradition of moko. Those messages continue on Wha, though the music is markedly different than previous offerings, owing less to pop music as Moana shows a more mature side to her songwriting. There's the rich orchestration on "Pae O Riri" ("Heat of the Battle"), the brief instrumental title track featuring the glass harmonium, and the subdued power of the peace piece "Rangikane Ana."

These tracks are generally quieter than Moana's previous work to be sure, but no less stirring. And the resilience of Maori culture is still clearly present. The words of the reggae/dub track "Whaura" concern Pacific nations' continuing struggles with sovereignty and independence. And the famous Maori haka makes several virile appearances, most notably on "Te Apo," which addresses the greed at the heart of many global trade agreements and includes sounds from the street protests at the 2006 WTO conference in Hong Kong. Wha is a mature, engaging album from of today's best conscious global outfits.

More Moana:
Wha lyrics
Audio samples from Wha
Moana's blog

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