Tangi

This work was commissioned by Tecwyn Evans of Glyndebourne Festival Opera. It received an acclaimed first performance by ‘Sounds Wicked’ conducted by Evans with Michelle Hackney as soloist, in St. James Church, London on October 3, 1999. The choir parts consist mainly of a gentle, tonal chorale, through which the soloist weaves an intense rendition of the text utilising many of the devices and conventions of traditional Màori chant.

Te Heuheu Herea, a high chief of Ngàti Tùwharetoa in the Taupo district, died in 1820 and was mourned by his son in this song of lament (waiata tangi). The text was collected by Sir Apirana Ngata in his book ‘Ngà Moteatea’ of 1959. It is written in a dialect differing in several aspects from present day Màori.

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He Tangi mo Te Heuheu Herea

Tìtaka kau ana ngà manu o te ata, ka riro ko koe ra ii,
Hare ra, e pà, i te hahanga o Pipiri!
Taku manu noho màtàrae, i whàngaia ki te hau,
Kawau aroarotea, ka tù tènei kei te paenga ò riri.
Taku kòkòmako whakahau i te ata
No ngà rake manawa i te tahatika ki Pungarehu,
Ka whàngaia koe ki runga te ahurewa,
Ka kai Uenuku, e ra.

Kòkòmako noa ana i tùku pù ko au anake.
Tè au ko te moe; tokona ake ana ki runga, e ra,
Na te mamae ra ka huri rùnaki.
Ko ‘e ika pàwhara na te atua ki runga te tìepa.
Whatiia mai ra tìtapu maroro,
Ka tòkia tò kiri e te anu kò pata.
Kàpà ianei he wewenga tau koe!
Te wehe i te matua, no hea e hoki mai ki ahau?
Te matua i te whare, me rauhì mai e te ringa,
Te matua i te waka, me whakatangi ki te waihoe.

Me uta ki te patu, me uta ki te tao!
Ngà mahi ra, è, i whakararawetia.
Ka rewa kei runga te apaapatù kei ò tuàkana.
I te waka e tau ana i te nui ‘Àti Tu, i te rahi ‘Àti Rangi
Màna e hoatu ki te mata-uraura,
Màku e whakamau ngà tai-toru àtea o te wai.
E pà mà, tirohia mai ko au anake tènei,
Ka riro te mumu, ka riro te àwhà,
Ka tere te parata, ka maunu te ika i tòna rua.
Wàtea kau ana ko te tùranga kau o Rehua,
Takoto ana mai te marama i te pae ki a koe.

Taku kòkòmako whakahau i te ata,
Taku manu noho màtàrae, i whàngaia ki te hau,
Hare ra, e pà, i te hahanga o Pipiri!
Hare ra, e pà…..

Te Heuheu Tùkino 1780-1846
Ngàti Tùwharetoa

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Lament for Te Heuheu Herea

The birds at dawn fly round in confusion now you are gone.
Go father, to the land of frozen mists!
My bird of the headlands, fed by the wind,
The white breasted shag stands on your battlefields.
My bellbird that hastened the dawn
In the thickets on the cliff-shore at Pungarehu,
You are a food offering on the altar,
And Uenuku eats.

In the night I am a bellbird, singing alone.
Sleep will not come, for my thoughts spring up,
And grief circles me endlessly.
You are a gutted fish on the altar of the god.
The drooping heron plume is broken,
And your skin is wet with the cold dew.
If only we were parting for just one season!
But after such a parting as this, what can bring a parent back?
If this were the remains of a house, hands would already be at work,
If it were the remains of a canoe, the paddlers’ song would be chanted.

Place his clubs and spears about him!
With them he did great deeds.
You could hold your head up in the company of your elder brothers.
Now the anchored canoes of the hosts of ‘Ati Tu, the multitudes of ‘Ati Rangi
Will be launched for war,
And I will tame the surging tides of the ocean.
O my father, see me here alone,
The strong wind is gone, the storm is past,
The canoe prow has drifted away, the fish has left its hiding place.
The place where the morning star used to shine is empty,
And because of you the moon lies on the horizon.

My bellbird that hastened the dawn,
My bird of the headlands, fed by the wind,
Go father, to the land of frozen mists!
Go father…..

Adapted from a translation by Margaret Orbell
in the Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse, 1985

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