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Haka mixed with hip-hop and techno by Waikato group

"It's been 30 years since a kapa haka has released a song that's made it on mainstream airwaves," Te Iti Kahurangi co-founder Kingi Kiriona says.

Imagine a hip hop haka blasting out of nightclub speakers.

That's what Kingi Kiriona, co-founder of a Hamilton-based kapa haka group, is waiting for.

And he's made a start, with Te Iti Kahurangi releasing an album which includes tracks blending hip-hop or techno with haka.

The recently-released Te Iti Kahurangi CD has tracks branded as haka hip-hop and techno haka.

If they hit chart gold, Kiriona would be happy - and that's pretty much what he told the CD's producers.

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"I said, it's been 30 years since a kapa haka has released a song that's made it on mainstream airwaves, that being Poi E released by the Patea Maori Club," he said.

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"It would be awesome to have another song like Poi E playing in the nightclubs or on mainstream radio, with a wider audience listening to it".

The results include haka hip-hop piece Atua Whiowhio, telling of Te Kooti Rikirangi's prophecy about a whistling god - which came in the form of a steam train.

"When we listened to it we thought, ooh, this is very innovative, very new and are we taking a risk?" Kiriona said.

"Because we wrote it, we were happy with it. We quite liked it. We thought, let's give it a go and put it out on the CD."

The other track was the techno-haka Kei Whea Te Tuna?, mixed from a poi waiata about traditional eeling practices in Waikato.

"I think it's an awesome combination of old and new, of Māori and non-Māori music styles, and of old stories with a contemporary music flavour," said Kiriona, who is a co-tutor for Te Iti Kahurangi.

"As an artist I quite like that whole mix."

He didn't set out with a mission to explore new genres, though.

The project started as a tenth anniversary book of the songs and haka Te Iti Kahurangi had performed - with translations and explanations.

That was part of his Masters of Art in music, and a CD followed thanks to funding from the Māori broadcasting funding agency, Te Māngai Pāho.

Then the group challenged producers to add a "production spin" to two songs.

"If Poi E was the benchmark, then go for gold," said Kiriona, who has strong family ties to the Patea Maori Club.

The Te Iti Kahurangi CD was finished in November 2016 and sold about 600 copies in a month, Kiriona said.

And while they'd be keen to try a live performance of the blended genres, Kiriona said they haven't got time while they're preparing for the upcoming national kapa haka competition, Te Matatini.

The Te Iti Kahurangi album is called He Kura Kāinga: A Treasured Home, and it also features traditional haka, solo, and trio artists.

The producers are Jeremy Mayall and Kent Macpherson, and Jason Long mixed and mastered the album.

Samples of the techno haka and haka hip hop are online.

For more information, or to purchase an album please contact Kingi Kiriona at teitikahurangisales@gmail.com

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