Season2, Episode 3

He Reo Tawhito

A conversation with Dr Joe Te Rito

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?

‘He Reo Tawhito’ is available on all major platforms.

Click any of the links below to listen.

Please note: This podcast is spoken completely in te reo Māori

Dr Hōhepa (Joe) Te Rito’s passion for te reo Māori began in 1971, when he became one of the original members of the Te Reo Māori Society at Victoria University of Wellington—a group that was active in collecting signatures for the Te Reo Māori Petition presented to Parliament in 1972. He has taught te reo Māori in various settings—including at the University of Auckland and EIT Hawke’s Bay, where he became Dean of Māori Studies and worked for 17 years—and is the founding and current Chairperson of Radio Kahungunu.

In this episode of He Reo Tawhito: Conversations about Mōteatea, Joe acknowledges the future proofing efforts of the likes of Tā Apirana Ngata, Pei Te Hurinui Jones, and Hirini Moko Mead, who foresaw the need to collect and publish the four-volume Ngā Mōteatea series. Joe also gives extended explanations about the great works involved with Ngā Mōteatea, and how these books have contributed to the art and literature of Māori today.

“Ngā Mōteatea: Hē pēnei te mātotoru, kī  katoa i tēnei mea te Mōteatea nā reira koirā tō tātou waimarietanga i te koroua nei i a Apirana Ngata” [The ‘Ngā Mōteatea’ books are this thick, full to the brim with mōteatea collections, so that’s one of the reasons we were fortunate to have this Koroua, Apirana Ngata.]

Joe mentions three classic mōteatea that he has studied personally, each with their own style and their own origins, and speaks about some of those involved in the movement of each mōteatea. Join our host Crystal Edwards to find out more about these classic mōteatea in this fascinating te reo Māori conversation with Dr Hōhepa (Joe) Te Rito.

Host: Crystal Edwards
Guest: Dr Joe Te Rito

Links & Resources
Pinepine Te Kura
Ka riro ra i te momo o te tangata
E tō e te rā
I Te Ata Tu Tōnu

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
Special thanks to Dr Joseph Te Rito and Ngāti Kahungunu for E tō e te rā,
Dame Hinewehi Mohi, Dr Joseph Te Rito and Ngāti Kahungunu for Pinepine te kura
Waipatu Māori Club for I te Ata Tū Tōnu
Dame Hinewehi Mohi, Dr Joseph Te Rito, Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Porou for Ka riro rā e te momo o te tangata
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 Joe Te Rito

Rongomawahine, Ngāti Kahungunu

Joseph (Joe) Te Rito is Rongomaiwahine/Ngāti Kahungunu. His primary marae is Ōmāhu. Joe’s passion is for te reo Māori. In 1971 he became a member of the Te Reo Māori Society at Victoria University which collected signatures for the Te Reo Māori Petition to Parliament in 1972. Joe then taught at various schools and eventually at EIT. There for 17 years, he was Dean of Māori Studies, leading the development of a BA/BA (Hons) degree programme, on-air reo Māori courses and on-campus marae. He is founding and current Chairperson of Radio Kahungunu (since 1988). He became GM, Te Reo Māori/Tikanga Māori at the Māori Television Service in 2003; and then Kaihautū Tikanga and Reo at Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga in 2004. He completed his PhD under Dr Ranginui Walker; and is currently Deputy-Director/Kaihautū Mātauranga Māori for Ako Aotearoa.

* Photo credit: Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga |