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A celebration of Reo Maori songs

Wednesday 22 June 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National


A celebration of  Reo Maori songs
Te Mire Atu 2022 composer Matapo Koroa from the island of Mangaia. Picture: MELINA ETCHES/22062110

After two postponements due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Te Mire Atu composers competition which celebrates original Cook Islands Reo Maori song compositions will be held tomorrow at the National Auditorium.

The Tauranga Vananga Ministry of Cultural Development event gives composers a platform to explore and showcase their talent on stage, and listeners a chance to enjoy some beautiful, traditional Cook Islands music.

Matapo Koroa from the island of Mangaia is participating in the event for the first time.

“I dedicate my song to all the women who have suffered and been through and breast cancer,” Koroa said.

A retired school teacher, Koroa began composing songs in the classroom for children.

Later, she composed songs for the youth, vainetini (women), church groups and the puna (district) on Mangaia.

“First I plan, then I collect information that relates to the theme of the song and key words, and I love using Mangaian sayings, then I weave the words together,” said Koroa.

In keeping to Te Mire Atu theme of “Te au Vairakau Tupuna o toku Matakeinanga/Enua or the Traditional Medicine of my Community/Island”, she approached a known taunga vairakau (traditional healer) on Mangaia who makes a medicinal remedy from rori. Koroa’s composition tells the story of this vairakau rori.

She creates melodies and tunes using her guitar or ukulele.

“Its hard work, you’ve got to feel the theme and tone of how you want the song and make changes,” she said.

Her passion for writing original songs comes from her father Atingakau Tangatakino who has composed songs for the Constitution Celebrations, now known as Te Maeva Nui.

Koroa was born in 1964 on the island of Mangaia to parents Atingakau and Teremataora Tangatakino. She began her teaching career in 1988 and 30 years later, Koroa retired due to health reasons.

She resides on Mangaia with her husband Teuanuku Koroa. They have a daughter and adored grandchildren.

Director of Tauranga Vananga, Ngatuaine Maui said: “I’ve been amazed at what these composers have achieved creating songs for Te Maeva Nui, churches, schools and their communities.” 

“Te Mire Atu also gives composers opportunities and we hope that they will look further on the international scene,” added Maui.

Songs will be judged on the lyrics, the composition and connection to the theme, originality of tune and the musical arrangement, standard and clarity. The lyrics of the song must be Cook Islands Māori, ei au tuatua Maori Kuki ’Airani anake to te ’imene.

Te Mire Atu 2022 composers and singers are: Toka – singer Poureva Maea, Teina Tearii – singer Seikura Tereora, Pastor Taiti Toroma – singer Grace Toroma, Kathy Nubono – singer Andrew George, Matapo Koroa – singer Nga Tangimataiti, Jon Jonassen – singer Kapulani Heather, Kairua Mataio and Pastor Ngarima George.

The event will kick off at 7pm.