The Maori Teachings of Pakeha Rapper Maitreya

Tony Mitchell

Abstract


The Christchurch MC Maitreya was ejected from his school class at age 15 and banished to a third form te reo Māori class. This fostered a life-long interest in te reo, which he deployed when he started rapping, first with Christchurch crew Nil State in 1995, then with Dark Tower in Auckland in 1998. He also began studying with Māori DJ DLT, who suggested he take the name ‘Maitreya’, or ‘emerging teacher’. After moving to the USA in 2003 and managing to crowd-fund his debut album Closer to Home in 2007 through Sellaband, his track ‘Waitaha’ was nominated for a MAIOHA Silver Scroll award in 2008, which he eventually won in 2010 for the te reo version of his track ‘Sin City’. After the Christchurch earthquake, he helped organise the Band Together concert and released a benefit EP, Chur to the Chur, featuring Che Fu and King Kapisi. In 2012 he released Āio (Be calm, at peace), a double album with one CD in te reo, the other in English, which was funded by Māori language government body Te Mangai Paho. This essay examines Maitreya’s career in the light of a continuing lack of sympathy or understanding for te reo music on New Zealand radio, and the small number of pākehā New Zealanders who are able to speak te reo.

Key words: Māori popular music, hip hop, language, community music.

Keywords


Māori popular music, hip hop, language, community music.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11157/sites-vol11iss2id260