May 12, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Poi E still a song that hits all the right notes, eh Boy? (Taranaki Daily News)

2 min read


The iconic song Poi E has jumped back into the country’s top 40 music chart, becoming the first New Zealand single to chart in three separate decades.

PateaSince the release of the Taika Waititi film Boy on March 25, the song made famous by the Maori Patea Club has quickly climbed from No203 three weeks ago to No39 this week.

Before the start of the film’s first screening in Hawera on Thursday night, the Patea Maori Club gave the full theatre a performance of Poi E.

Moments later the song boomed out through the cinema speakers and its encore in the film’s opening was again met with applause.

Patea Maori Club chairman John Nyman, who was in the club through the “Poi E era”, said the whole Patea community was still proud of the song that became an anthem of a generation.

“When people hear the song they actually say that’s their song.

“They were all part of it at the time, it lifted the whole community spirit,” Mr Nyman said.

When the Patea Freezing Works closed in 1982, Dalvanius Prime went to the East Coast to see how its people were coping with a similar situation.

Prime teamed up with Tokomaru Bay song writer Ngoi Pewhairangi.

She wrote the lyrics, he wrote the music and then took the song back to the Patea Maori Club.

Mr Nyman said Poi E and its accompanying poi were metaphoric about a fantail flying erratically, as young Maori were trying to find their way and search for identity.

“We always said it would come again. When you get a classic it never seems to go away, it just keeps going on and on. To be there 30 years on, it’s a big ups for us and a proud moment for us in Patea.

“It’s a motivation for our people that in a small community anything’s possible if you reflect back on the success of Poi E,” Mr Nyman said.

The film, written, directed by and starring Wellington actor Taika Waititi, is a heartfelt coming-of-age story, set on the rural East Coast during the 80s.

Boy has been at the top of the box office and has so far taken more than $4 million in ticket sales.

Waititi has launched his own campaign to get the song to the top of the charts by Christmas, encouraging his followers to download the song through his Twitter account yesterday.

The 1984 single Poi E blitzed the charts for 22 weeks after its release and was in the No1 spot for four weeks.

Over the past eight weeks, Poi E has sold more than 5000 copies.

In order to reach the No1 position, it would need to sell around 2000 copies per week.

Poi E last featured on the charts in 2009 when Vodafone featured the song on its website.

3 thoughts on “Poi E still a song that hits all the right notes, eh Boy? (Taranaki Daily News)


    Promoters of the box office hit Boy are trying to create a flash mob to re-enact the film's title song in Wellington next week.

    Trevor Shailer from advertising agency GSL Network there's a lot of Maori out there who'd live to take part in a spontaneous rendition of the Patea Maori Club hit Poi-E.

    They'll be able to find out the date, time and venue for the reeneactment by social media.

    “Maori are huge users of technology and there is a real opportunity to use the Internet and social media space and get the message out about Poi E and the awesome film that Taika's done,” Mr Shailer says.

    BOY has already netted $6million at New Zealand cinemas and Poi e is riding high in the charts.

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