Winners of the 2024 E Tū Whānau Song Competition talk about their songs

My whānau, my future inspires musical gems

The intelligent and emotionally honest way contestants in the 2024 E Tū Whānau Song Competition have interpreted this year’s theme My whānau, my future is beautifully realised in the three waiata taking top slot in each category of this year’s musical event.

Anatipa Te Hā o Hinehopu – Hina me Te Rā

The winner of the Open category is Nūhaka-based, Anatipa Te Hā o Hinehopu (Rongomaiwahine, Rakaipaaka, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa, Te Arawa, Ngāi te Rangi).

Anatipa is a Kaiāwhina in Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Kahungunu o Te Wairoa.

Anatipa Te Hā o Hinehopu, winner of the Open category in the 2024 E Tū Whānau Song Competition

“My four siblings and I grew up around kapa haka and our dad’s ‘old school tunes,’ blues, rock, funk, and Motown.

After Cyclone Gabrielle, we formed our own vocal group, and we gig at different community events. We call ourselves “The Red Band” after the Red Band gumboots. After the flood, they were the only shoes people could move around in, due to the mud and silt.  They remind us of where we come from and why we started,” says Anatipa.

Anatipa’s siblings weren’t available on the day she recorded so her friend, Turei Kire stepped in to help on some of the vocals. The audio engineer was Christian Mausia.

Anatipa pays special tribute to her old singing teacher and mentor, Taisha Tari. “Taisha created a space for me to let my musical inspirations out,” she says.

“My parents are my inspiration.”

Anatipa ‘s parents are the inspiration for her winning song, Hina me Te Rā.

“My māmā is Hina, the female essence, and my Pāpā is Te Rā, the male essence, and they are the two lights in my life, ngā pou o tōku ao,” Anatipa says.

“Māma is forever guiding me through the challenges of my life and Pāpā is forever lifting my mauri, and my wairua. They gently push me to my fullest potential. Over the last couple of years, I’ve struggled at times to grow from a young girl into a responsible adult. My parents have stood beside me throughout, solid as a rock, reminding me that I don’t always have to please other people but that I must always believe in myself.”

Anatipa says that her parents always used a lot of whakataukī to guide her. A couple of her favourites are:

  • He manako te koura, e kore ai. Dreams don’t come to you on a plate. You have to dive for that crayfish and explore the roughness of the sea so you can get what you desire.”
  • Mate ururoa, kai mate wheke. In everything that you do, do it to your fullest potential, be like a shark and fight to the very end, don’t give up like an octopus that lies down and dies.”

Judge’s comment on Hina me Te Rā

“Rawe te waiata nei, very catchy and meaningful, going in the direction of Maramataka Mātauranga Māori with references to Hina (the moon) and Te Rā (the sun) which are beautiful metaphors to use when writing and singing waiata about whakapapa, whānau, and future aspirations. 

He kōrero tuku iho.  Ka mau te wehi e hika mā, ae ka tika hoki ko te Maramataka he ara anō hei ārahi hei anga whakamua.”

Tyree Wall – Ka ao ka awatea (Things get better)

Sixteen-year-old Tyree Wall (Ngāti Tutemohuta, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) of Waitahanui, Taupō won first prize in the Rangatahi category of the 2024 E Tū Whānau Song Competition with a polished te reo version of a song he first wrote and performed in English.

Tyree decided to enter a te reo version of his original song because it related so closely to this year’s theme, My whānau, my future.

“My whānau were going through tough times when I first wrote it. I wanted to say that even when it feels like the weight of the world is on top of you, and all you see is darkness, the love and support from our whānau can be the light that guides you through.

Things will get better, and you will rise through the healing. You don’t ever have to face your struggles alone because we have each other, we have whānau.

Our whānau are our future, and without them we wouldn’t be here today,” says Tyree.

Tyree Wall, winner of the Rangatahi category

Te reo revitalises the song

Tyree translated his song “Better” into te reo Māori with “huge help” from his koro, Hawira Karaitiana. Then he simply got out his phone and started recording. “I started off in the shed, but it got too cold so I went inside to record. There was no mixing or anything. The version you hear was a one off,” he says.

Tyree loves singing and he’s hoping to make a career of it. This year he sang at the Love Taupō Trail Festival and played live on MoreFM during NZ Music Month.  He performed at the 2019 Christmas in the Park in Tūrangi and, in 2021, took part in Māori Television’s Five Minutes of Fame competition. He was the warm-up act for a fundraiser for Sonoros, another group of young Taupo musicians, and he gigs at a local restaurant.

“I take every opportunity to get myself out. I want to travel maybe, but most of all I just want to sing,” he says.

Judge’s comment on Ka ao ka awatea (Things get better)

“This young man has the voice, the story, the sincerity of heart and the wairua. He waiata tau mauri, he reo rōreka, ka mau te wehi, hāngai pū ki te kaupapa ‘My whānau, my future’. His paku whakamārama set the tone. 

Stripped back or accompanied, this waiata would be beautiful in future.  He carries a special taonga which is his natural ‘oro.’  Ngā mihi nui e tama!”

Devonjay Eke – Soldier on

This year’s People’s Choice Award winner is an uplifting rap encouraging whānau to remain resilient and strong in the face of adversity.

Soldier On is written and performed by Kia Ora Campus student and Ōtara Tongan community member, Devonjay Eke.

The song, he says, comes from his personal experience of heartbreak, and the choice he made to go through it all in silence.

“In the song I’m rapping about things I’ve thought about but never had the courage to express out loud.

It’s about learning how to channel that angst into something you love, maybe a hobby or an activity. Then good things will come out of what might have been a bad experience,” says Devonjay.

Devonjay Eke, winner of the People’s Choice Award

Devonjay puts his money where his mouth is. The seventeen-year-old has already launched his own clothing brand called, Devolo Clothing. It’s a dream he’s nurtured since he was twelve and he’s happy to share his success.

“I print my own designs on plain clothing and sell them. Its working well and I’m getting friends involved too so they can make some money as well,” he says.

This upcoming, positive young entrepreneur says he’s fully appreciative of the support he gets from his school and church communities, and from family and friends. These sentiments found their way into Soldier On as well.

“The song reminds me to ‘soldier on’ for my friends and family, and to keep my eyes fixed on the reasons I haven’t given up despite the hardships and losses I’ve faced in life,” says Devonjay.