Lorde releases te reo Māori EP Te Ao Mārama featuring Solar Power songs in New Zealand's indigenous language

Lorde has released a five-track EP called Te Ao Mārama featuring songs from her latest album Solar Power recorded entirely in te reo Māori. 

Ahead of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week), the "companion piece" to the Kiwi singer's recent record includes Te Reo versions of the album's title track 'Solar Power' along with 'Stoned at the Nail Salon', 'Fallen Fruit', 'Oceanic Feeling' and 'The Path'. 

In a newsletter to fans, Lorde said she had been "waiting a really long time" to share news of the project, from which she will donate all proceeds to two Aotearoa-based charities - Forest and Bird and Te Hua Kawariki Charitable Trust. 

"Many things revealed themselves slowly to me while I was making this album, but the main realisation by far was that much of my value system around caring for and listening to the natural world comes from traditional Māori principles," she wrote. 

"There's a word for it in Te Reo: Kaitiakitanga, meaning 'guardianship or caregiving for the sky, sea and land'. I'm not Māori, but all New Zealanders grow up with elements of this worldview." 

"Te ao Māori and tikanga Māori are a big part of why people who aren't from here intuit our country to be kind of 'magical', I think," she continued.

"I know I'm someone who represents New Zealand globally in a way, and in making an album about where I'm from, it was important to me to be able to say: this makes us who we are down here." 

Lorde added that she "loved" singing in the "crazy-beautiful language", telling fans: "Even if you don't understand te reo, I think you'll get a kick out of how elegant my words sound in it." 

The making of Te Ao Mārama was overseen by Dame Hinewehi Mohi and Sir Tīmoti Kāretu, and fellow Kiwi singers Bic Runga and Marlon Williams both lend their voices to the project. 

In an interview with The Spinoff Ātea editor Leonie Hayden, Lorde said the experience of writing and recording the EP was unlike any other. 

"It's kind of scary to start any journey, but I guess that's my thing; I am at the very beginning, and this project is a starting point," she told The Spinoff Ātea. 

"It felt really big when we were doing it. It was heavy. It was really emotional. I'd never had any writing or recording experience like it. It was really powerful." 

Lorde also told Hayden she was anticipating potential backlash to Te Ao Mārama, recognising that some might accuse her of having a "white saviour complex". 

"I'm white - however you want to interpret me wanting to engage with our indigenous culture, that's fair enough. I totally accept that, because it is really complicated," she said. 

"This isn't something where I have both feet on the ground - I am a little bit out of my depth, and I'm the first to admit that, and I'm opening myself up to any response to this.

"What would have been worse is to just have been too scared to do it... that to me is sadder and scarier than being attributed any kind of white saviour complex." 

 Te Ao Mārama tracklist: 

1. 'Te Ara Tika / The Path'

2. 'Te Ao Mārama / Solar Power'

3. 'Mata Kohore / Stoned at the Nail Salon'

4. 'Hua Pirau / Fallen Fruit'

5. 'Hine-i-te-Awatea / Oceanic Feeling'