Agency: In August, Lorde put out her third record, “Solar Power.” Three weeks later, she released “Te Ao Marama,” an EP with five of the album’s songs translated into Maori, the Indigenous language of New Zealand. It’s part of an effort in her native country to boost a language that, not long ago, experts feared could die out, Brian Ng reports.
Beginning in the 1850s, the country’s European-settler government punished children who spoke the language at school and isolated Maori families by embedding them in white neighborhoods. New Zealand declared Maori an official language in 1987, but by then most of its speakers were older.
One of the artists behind the musical Maori resurgence is Dame Hinewehi Mohi, who in 2019 compiled “Waiata/Anthems,” an album of contemporary English tracks performed in Maori that debuted at No. 1 on the New Zealand charts. (Waiata means “song.”)
Language revitalization is “a never-ending battle,” Sir Timoti Karetu, an expert on Maori language, said. “All of us who have been colonized by somebody else are struggling for our languages to survive.”