New Zealand music charts announce new Te Reo Māori top 10

A new Te Reo Māori top 10 will be added to the official New Zealand Music Charts starting from June 19, it has been announced. 

Ngā Waiata Kairangi I Te Reo Māori O Te Rārangi 10 O Runga, the Official Top 10 Te Reo Māori Singles of the week, will showcase the biggest songs with vocals that are primarily sung in te reo. 

The general rule is at least 70 percent of all the vocals on a track must be sung in Māori in order to be considered - an initiative musicians like Stan Walker say will help the language survive and prosper. 

"I can only explain the Māori experience, history and culture through te reo - to explain it in English is to diminish it," Walker explained in a statement. 

"Often when I talk in English, I need to switch to a te reo word as there is no English word to capture exactly what I want to say. If te reo is lost, to be Māori is lost. 

"My language must be a living, breathing organ - not a dusty, unread book in a library." 

Recorded Music chief executive Damian Vaugh said the introduction of the new chart shows the New Zealand music industry is progressing positively. 

"The fact that there is enough new waiata being recorded in te reo Māori to warrant the creation of a standalone chart is evidence that the industry is evolving and changing.

"As te reo Māori continues to become more mainstream in Aotearoa, we will continue to support the efforts of the industry to embrace Te Ao Māori." 

Meanwhile, award-winning hip hop artist Rei said there was still a lot of work to do to move past "this current period of tokenism into one of normalisation", and that an integrated chart that highlighted te reo music would help achieve this. 

"[It will] force [music] program directors to take more notice of what we're doing." 

Singer/songwriter Huia Hamon said the chart would "further enhance our bilingual culture" and bring more awareness to native language musicians. 

"Te reo Māori music is part of all of our upbringing in Aotearoa - after all, the names of most of our lakes, rivers and towns are in te reo Māori.". 

News of the Te Reo Māori top 10 comes after the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards rebranded as the Aotearoa Music Awards last year, shifting the event's focus to recognise te teo Māori as the first language of New Zealand and to reflect the importance of the country's Tangata Whenua and Te Ao Māori in the music scene.