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AJA’s New Waiata Is a Touching Tribute to Her Ancestral Home

AJA has released a beautiful music video for ‘Te Reo ki Whakarongotai’


Isaac Te Reina

Award-winning Aotearoa singer-songwriter AJA has released a beautiful new music video for “Te Reo ki Whakarongotai”.

The sincere and moving te reo Māori waiata pays tribute to AJA’s ancestral home in Waikanae on the Kāpiti Coast.

It’s a truly whānau effort: AJA’s Uncle Kahu Ropata penned the waiata, while her older sister, Trey Ropata, composed the initial tune before AJA, Kahu and Natasha Ropata developed it further.

The waiata encourages listeners to immerse themselves in the distinct language of Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai, the marae and iwi to which the artist belongs.

“The lyrics symbolise the plume of knowledge that spans the heavens,” AJA explains. “”Te Reo ki Whakarongotai” is like ‘…te paki o Matariki…’ an adornment in the sky; a brooch worn by Ranginui (the Sky Father) himself. This song is a product of the vast wisdom inherited from generations before.”

Knowledge, language, and belonging are all honoured in the waiata, which touchingly captures AJA’s profound connection to marae, iwi o Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai, Waikanae.

The accompanying music video (watch below) really brings AJA’s waiata to life. Filmed at Whakarongotai, full of whānau and iwi, the clip was directed by Tola Newbery and filmed and edited by Isaac Te Reina and Tama Kawha.

“This was a special whānau gathering at our marae during the covid pandemic,” AJA adds. “We were able to shoot this video and capture the importance of whanaungatanga during a hard time.”

“Te Reo ki Whakarongotai” follows AJA’s first single of the year, “Feel It”, and both are set to feature on her forthcoming debut album, although the record doesn’t have an official release date yet. Last year, she received the APRA Maioha Silver Scroll Award for her waiata “Te Iho”, becoming a first-time finalist and winner in the process.

AJA’s “Te Reo ki Whakarongotai” is out now.