Season 1, Episode 1

He Reo Tawhito

A conversation with
Dr Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal

Mōteatea is a centuries-old tradition of chanted song-poetry; a great literary and musical art form that expresses the powerful portrayal of storytelling and is reflective of the emotional depths of a Māori world view. Its vast richness is yet to be fully understood. 

In these eleven episodes, over three series, hosted by Crystal Edwards, we hold conversations with some of the world’s leading experts on mōteatea and ask them: What exactly is mōteatea? How has it changed since colonisation? What issues does it face today?

“I love mōteatea for the way it can communicate a vision of life, a way of thinking and experiencing the world. It is a pathway into a way of thinking and experiencing the world that our tūpuna had, but also the world that we can have right now — the way the world can be with us now.” – Dr Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal

Dr Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal is an independent researcher of indigenous knowledge, and a freelance composer, musician and storyteller. He is a passionate advocate for ‘indigenous creativity’, which he pursues through research and consultancy services as well as through music and storytelling.

In this episode of He Reo Tawhito: Conversations about Mōteatea, Charles describes some of the different types of mōteatea — including pātere, waiata wawata, oriori and more — and the multitude of reasons, purposes, and occasions for which mōteatea can be composed. 

“All the great events of life are commemorated and communicated in mōteatea of one kind or another: love stories, conflict stories, the arrival of new children, the death of loved ones. All the great passions of what it is to be a human being can be found inside mōteatea.” 

Charles speaks about some of his favourite composers of mōteatea and provides examples of mōteatea that are especially meaningful to him. He eloquently describes how mōteatea can be a powerful vehicle for expressing deep emotions, and a profound way in which to commemorate, celebrate and communicate momentous events in life.

We invite you to join our host Crystal Edwards for this deeply insightful interview with Dr Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal.

Host: Crystal Edwards
Guest: Dr Te Ahukaramū Charles RoyalRoyal

Links & Resources
Poia atu taku poi
E pā tō hau

Production team
Producers: Toni Huata & Roger Smith
Sound Engineer: Phil Brownlee
Research: Dr Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal
Production Assistance: Ngahuia Maniapoto, Kelly Mata, Nina Lesperance, Jonathan Engle, Alpana Chovhan
Marketing: Leoné Venter
Executive Producer: Diana Marsh

Special thanks to
Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal and the Manukau Symphony Orchestra for ‘Whitiora’
Tainui Waikato for ‘E pā tō hau’
Te Hau Tawhiti Kapa Haka for ‘Poia atu taku poi’
Thanks to Adrian Wagner and Te Upoko o Te Ika
Cover Art: Kennedy Kioa Toi Faimanifo of Manatoa Productions

This podcast is supported by funding from Creative New Zealand.



© Copyright Centre for New Zealand Music Trust


Crystal Edwards

Hokahoka atu rā tēnei maioha ki a koutou katoa.

Crystal Edwards is a proud Ngāti Kahungunu woman who resides in the beautiful Hawkes Bay. She currently works for The Eastern Institute of Technology as an evening tutor, teaching Te Reo Māori over a range of classes.

From 2013 – 2020 Crystal worked as an iwi radio announcer and broadcaster for Radio Kahungunu. This role led her to Emcee work for Ngāti Kahungunu. She has hosted, emceed and entertained many events ranging from local community gatherings to national events such as Te Matatini Te Kahu o Te Amorangi 2017, The National Māori Music Awards and The National Māori Housing Conference 2020. She also coordinated an international Tā-Moko expenditure to Europe, travelling to six countries in 2018 with four Kahungunu Tā-Moko specialists.

“Ngāti Kahungunu has been the cornerstone to my success, and I am truly blessed to have built respect among my people. My network continues to grow, ranging from national to international contacts.”

Crystal’s latest accomplishment is being accepted as a member to Toast Masters International at the local branch in Hastings.

“I’ve always wanted to upskill in this area, simply because this is where I feel most comfortable and where my skills and talents lay.”

Crystal continues to be an emcee, host and public speaker, developing this talent by using Te Reo Māori as a vessel to showcase the events she is invited to.


Dr Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal

Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Tamaterā, Ngā Puhi

Dr Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal is an independent composer, teacher, researcher and cultural leader. He is deeply committed to the development of a new tangata whenuatanga (indigenous communities and life ways) particularly as this may be achieved through music, performing arts, education and research. Charles is the leader of the modern whare tapere – community based ‘houses’ of storytelling, dance, games, music and other entertainments – and he is the Artistic Director of Ōrotokare: Art, Story, Motion Trust which convenes whare tapere in Hauraki.

Previously, Charles was a Director at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand (2016-19), Professor of Indigenous Development, and Director of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, at the University of Auckland (2009-2014) and Director of Graduate Studies and Research at Te Wānanga-o-Raukawa, Ōtaki (1994-2002). Charles has received numerous awards for his ground-breaking work in mātauranga Māori and indigenous knowledge. He has been a Fulbright Scholar (2001), a Winston Churchill Fellow (2001) and a Resident at the Rockefeller Study and Conference Centre, Bellagio, Italy (2004). From 2011 to 2014, Charles was a Visiting Fellow at the University of London (programme entitled ‘Indigeneity in the Contemporary World: Performance, Politics, Belonging’ lead by Prof Helen Gilbert).

Charles has published six books and ten monographs – all on aspects of mātauranga Māori and iwi histories and traditions – the most recent being Te Ngākau (2009), a text in Māori on the nature of knowledge and knowing. Charles is a graduate of the Victoria University of Wellington School of Music and he also completed a doctorate in theatre and film studies from Victoria University in 1998.

* Photo credit: Sara Hindle