Season 3, Episode 2

He Reo Tawhito

A conversation with Pere Wihongi


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 does mōteatea mean to you? Traditionally, why were they composed, and how have they changed? Who are some key composers of mōteatea and how have they influenced your music?

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

Click any of the links below to listen.

Please note: This podcast is spoken in te reo Māori & English

Winner of the ‘Best Māori Male Solo Artist’ award at the 2019 Waiata Māori Music Awards, Pere Wihongi is a singer, guitarist, arranger, and composer of kapa haka and contemporary Māori music. He is also well-known for co-managing and performing with Māori pop group Maimoa, who have produced some of the most-watched te Reo Māori content on the internet.

 In He Reo Tawhito, a conversation about Mōteatea with Pere Wihongi, Pere describes his personal journey with mōteatea through returning to his marae in Te Tai Tokerau and also being brought up in the urban environment of Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland. This highlighted the influence that kapa haka has had on his knowledge about the art form. For Pere, a word that immediately comes to mind when he thinks of mōteatea is ‘library’:

 “When I think of the word ‘mōteatea’ I think of our whare pukapuka — I think it is our literal archival space of information that we, as Māori, have unlimited membership to.”

 Pere tells us why he loves pātere and describes the vast array of subjects that are encapsulated within mōteatea—from whakapapa to astrology to navigation to courting—explaining that, for thousands of years prior to the arrival of pen and paper, mōteatea was the primary vehicle for keeping stories alive and handing information down to the next generation.

 In this day and age, how can we compose for the future while keeping an eye on the past, preserving the traditional values and intention of mōteatatea? How is urban drift affecting mōteatea, and how does Pere incorporate mōteata into his own pop music? Find out in this captivating conversation with the luminous Pere Wihongi.

Host: Crystal Edwards
Guest: Pere Wihongi

Links & Resources
Te Mātāwai
Te Tekau mā Rua

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

Special thanks to
Te Mātāwai, performed by Te Iti Kahurangi, Te Matatini 2017, thanks to Kingi Kiriona and Māori Television.
Te Tekau mā Rua performed by Mōtai Tangata Rau, Te Matatini 2015 thanks to Paraone Gloyne and Māori Television.
Thanks to Adrian Wagner and Te Reo Irirangi o Te Upoko o te Ika
Cover Art: Kennedy Kioa Toi Faimanifo of Manatoa Productions

This podcast is supported by funding from Toi Aotearoa | Creative New Zealand, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori and Recorded Music 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.


Pere Wihongi

Te Rarawa, Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Kuri, Ngāti Wai

Pere Te Ruru o Te Ramana Wihongi, commonly known as Pere Wihongi, is an award-winning composer who originally comes from Herekino, New Zealand. A self-taught guitarist, singer and composer of kapa haka and contemporary Māori music, Pere also has a background in directing and producing as well as experience working in the television sector for both Marae and Te Karere News as a reporter. Pere is mainly known for co-managing and performing for the Māori pop group Maimoatia.

Pere Wihongi was the winner of the 2019 Waiata Māori Music Awards’ “Best Māori Male Solo Artist” award. His musical group Te Kākano also won “Best Traditional Album in Te Reo Māori”, “Best Māori Pop Album” and “Best Song by a Māori Artist” for their hit song Tōrea.