Stan Walker to release te reo Māori album Te Arohanui, dedicated to his late grandmother

Stan Walker is set to release his first ever te reo Māori album Te Arohanui, named after and dedicated to his late grandmother, a "beautiful, staunch kuia" who he says had a profound impact on his life. 

The 12-song project features a combination of the artist's greatest hits such as 'Take It Easy' and 'Thank You' re-recorded in te reo Māori, as well as several new tracks. 

Walker said now is "the perfect time" to release a Te Reo record, adding that it "wasn't a matter of if, but when". 

"It was always meant to be," he told Newshub. "It happened at a time where there's a shift within the people, within everybody who calls Aotearoa home. 

"Music is the most powerful gift and tool that we have. I feel like our reo is like poetry and waiata. It's something that teaches, educates, heals, uplifts, breaks down and gives people permission to feel in ways that they couldn't feel. 

"Our reo, equally, does the same thing for me. I think it's a powerful time to release reo Māori waiata." 

On Friday, Walker will release the first single from the new project, his 2013 hit 'Take It Easy' in Te Reo as 'Tau Te Mārire'. The 30-year-old says re-recording the song in his native tongue takes him back to a time where he felt he had to abandon who he really was in order to get ahead. 

"At that time, I never thought I'd be able to sing a song in te reo Māori, let alone do an album," he said.

"When I moved to Australia, before I did [Australian] Idol, it kind of got suppressed in me, because what made me unique, made me powerful and made me me, was [being] Māori - that's all I knew. 

"Then suddenly, I was mocked for the way that I talked... the thing that empowered me and the thing that I was, was now linked to trauma because I got bullied for it, I got told I was going to be nothing." 

Stan Walker to release te reo Māori album Te Arohanui, dedicated to his late grandmother
Photo credit: Rāwhai Wetere

Walker said that as the years progressed and he started becoming "the better version of himself", he reconnected with his roots and his reo. 

"It was always there, it just got pushed down," he said. 

In fact, the multi Aotearoa Music Award winner and former X Factor NZ judge thinks 'Take It Easy' actually sounds better in Te Reo, and not just because he's a "better singer now". 

"That song brings so much joy to people, and it's such a nostalgic song, I'm really proud, I'm excited for people to hear it in Māori... I think my songs sound better in te reo Māori."

The 'Tua/Bigger' singer told Newshub Te Arohanui, along with being a celebration of his late Nanny Taini (Nānā), is a dedication of aroha to all his tupuna that came before him. 

In a media statement announcing the album, Walker said he credited "his voice, and all that it holds, to those who came before him". 

When asked what his Nanny Taini might have made of the new album, and Walker's success as a musician, he said: "It's the same as all my nannies, obviously they're proud, they're emotional, they're overwhelmed, but more so, [they know] I am doing what I should and I'm being who I should be. 

"It's part of their legacy, because they had to sacrifice and do things that we couldn't even imagine doing for us to be who we are," he added. 

"For us to be outrageous and crazy and amazing and extraordinary. I know that she would think I'm doing exactly what I need to be doing.

Stan Walker to release te reo Māori album Te Arohanui, dedicated to his late grandmother
Photo credit: Rāwhai Wetere

"It's more than pride for them, it's a dream come to life and a legacy fulfilled."  

When Walker announced Te Arohanui on Wednesday morning, he said te reo Māori "brings life" not just to the world, but to him personally. 

"It's an honour to have been gifted this taonga. Now I gift this taonga to the world." 

Te Arohanui will be released on September 17, during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week).