May 16, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Waiata Mai Series: First of its Kind

4 min read

Any parent of young children will understand the value of a resource that can entertain tamariki while educating them at the same time. And most parents will probably identify with the fact that tamariki will watch videos they like, on repeat, for weeks on end. This is the rationale behind the creation of the Waiata Mai series.

waiata-mai-31Waiata Mai, a bilingual music video series produced by Maraea Davies (Ngati Awa) of Hei Tiki Creatives is a YouTube series of 40 songs designed to engage tamariki while teaching basic Maori language sentence structures, using the potential for repetition as a vehicle for memorisation of the various structures. As far as Maori language series for children and their families go, it is the first of its kind; the language can be instantly applied by parents and tamariki to everyday life situations.

The idea for the series evolved from Maraea seeing how much her toddlers loved and learned from YouTube edutainment like ABC, counting videos and other educational videos. My 18 month old son experienced impressive learning outcomes as a result of his exposure to YouTube. The problem was there were no quality M?ori language based videos for children. As a solution we started creating our own, Maraea says.

It is easy to plonk your child in front of the box and get on with your own thing, which in my case at that time, was paid work. Thankfully there was enough good edutainment on YouTube that my 18 month old son would sit absorbed for some time and as I would find out once we ended up in preschool, experienced impressive learning outcomes as a result of YouTube. The problem was there were no quality Maori language based videos for children. Here I was – still not quite at intermediate level in te reo, working in Maori TV production, and learning all the words to every song from the Wiggles and Love to Sing. I remember feeling somewhat aggrieved about the fact that not only were my babies limited to English nursery songs but that my own listening space and learning ability was also being wasted on nursery-English. And so I started creating Maori language videos for my children.

Using the English videos that most engaged her tamariki in learning as a guideline, Maraea created a few videos for tamariki to watch on YouTube. There was enough interest to warrant a pitch of the series Waiata Mai to MaTe Reo, who agreed that the production of the series would provide a great opportunity tomeet a number of their language objectives and they subsequently provided funding to make the series.

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 1.29.08 pmThe categories in Waiata Mai focus on different educational areas; Ko Au is based on the child, their whanau and their body; Patai is based on common questions children ask; I Tenei Ralooks at children in their everyday settings; Matauranga contains songs about colours shapes, seasons and time of day and He Ta?karo, He Toi focuses on activities tamariki enjoy.

The strength of the series as a quality Maori language resource rests with advisors Waitangi and Te Ranui Black who have overseen the project from writing through to the final editing process. The Maori language used prefers the local Nga?ti Awa and Tuhoe dialects- where a preference has had to be made, and Waitangi and Te Ranui have also consciously ensured that the reo used is appropriate for the situation, whether formal or less formal.

As far as the video production goes the local preschool community has been invested in the project with a number of preschools and kohanga opening their doors for filming. It was easy and perhaps fitting to place much of the filming at Treehouse Bilingual Montessori and Te Waipuna Ariki o Matangireia given the strong drive of both centres to provide tamariki with a bilingual environment. Maraea says.

It has also been awesome to have had the support and involvement of kaupapa Maori driven kura like Te Ao Marama Kohanga Reo, Te Paroa Kohanga Reo and Te Orini ki Ngati Awa Kura Kaupapa; the affirmation of our reo speaking community provides us with a sense of pride in the mahi we are doing. Beyond this the support and participation from Ngati Awa and Tuhoe whanau has been just great.

Maraea said there have been some great unplanned rewards manifest in production, one of which was being able to work closely with Te Orini ki Ngati Awa Kura Kaupapa by providing senior students with the opportunity for hands on learning in video production where they were able to help shoot and edit the series.

Students displayed great passion and real natural talent in video production; as a result of this outcome there are now discussions with other community organisations to create more opportunities of this nature for rangatahi.

Maraea hopes that the Waiata Mai series will be as helpful to other whanau at home and abroad as it has been for her and her tamariki. She also feels that there is a definite benefit of the videos being used in childhood centres, especially where teachers may not be fluent speakers of Te Reo Maori. The songs will extend both the tamariki and the teachers.

Maraea is currently looking for additional funding to create new digital mobile Maori language based resources for both tamariki and adults.

For anyone interested in DVDs of the songs or links to the videos, details are available at

Phone or email Maraea Davies 027 933 8921 [email protected]



Twitter: @heitikicreative #waiatamai

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