When Hinewehi changed our anthem

"E Ihowa Atua o ngā iwi mātou rā…"

Schoolchildren sing the Māori verse of our national anthem like it's their native tongue.

If you're old enough to remember Māori singer Hinewehi Mohi singing our anthem in Te Reo at the Rugby World Cup, you'll also remember the fierce backlash that came with it.

All hell broke loose. 

But 20 years on, Hinewehi says she's okay bringing all that up again. At the time she says the negative comments and threats made towards her were devastating.

Her close friend and Te Reo exponent Stacey Morrison says her mate was a game-changer. She says her stance motivated our country into change and acceptance for the better. 

Rugby commentator Keith Quinn agrees he says Hinewehi was incredibly courageous to sing the anthem in Te Reo. He says had she of asked anyone at the Rugby World Cup or even the New Zealand authorities, they'd have told her no.

Hinewehi Mohi
Hinewehi Mohi in 1999. Photo credit: The Hui

At the time Hinewehi says she was bowled over by the negative response and shocked that New Zealanders had such strong feelings against te reo Māori, a language she loved.

She told The Hui she reveals one of the Māori members of the All Blacks confronted her and told her she was wrong to sing it in Māori, something that further devastated her.

These days the vitriol has been replaced by praise. 

Hinewehi says Pākehā New Zealanders tell her she is incredible, and singing the anthem in both Te Reo and English makes them feel proud. 

Watch the video for the full report from The Hui.

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