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Uenuku Fairhall – manipulating kupu during composition

Uenuku talks about how he ‘plays’ with words as he composes.


Engari Tā Apirana mō te Niu Tīrenitanga he aha tā rātou i utu ai? Rātou i haere konihi mai i te maru o te Tiriti! Apirana Ngata, Tā Apirana Ngata. When I composed the haka, I was referring to the fact it was he (Sir Apirana Ngata) who made the statement that, if Māori wished to be considered citizens of this country New Zealand, this new nation that had been imposed on Aotearoa, the price they had to pay was to go and fight in the war. As I composed, I tried various phrases. I mea atu, i kī a Apirana. No good. I mea a Apirana. Not quite. Ko Tā Apirana.Yes, that’s the phrasing, because it had a pun, from ‘tā’ meaning ‘according to’ and the ‘Tā’ or ‘Sir’ of his title, as in Sir George Grey, so it became Tā Apirana, and the words flowed better, even though it isn’t really talking about his title. So when I come back and look at the words of this haka, I think, oh that’s how I composed it, even though it’s never apparent when it's performed on stage. I like to have my little games when I'm composing.