Regional | Te Reo Māori

YouTube sensation William Singe to drop first song in te reo Māori for Waiata Anthems

Australia-born Māori singer-songwriter William Singe (Ngāti Porou) has millions of followers and listeners on YouTube, Spotify and Facebook.  Photo / Supplied

By Eda Tang, Stuff

Wildly popular singer-songwriter William Singe (Ngāti Porou) has gone back to his roots with his new reo Māori song to be released later this month.

Singe, who was a member of boy band Collective, a group formed through X Factor Australia, has hit a high note with music fans online after posting his music on Facebook and YouTube.

His R&B, hip-hop, reggae and rap-inspired sound has garnered him 2.7 million YouTube subscribers and 3.7 million monthly listeners on Spotify. He has done two tours to various countries.

William Singe's 2016 cover of Drake's Hotline Bling has received 22 million views on YouTube.  Source / YouTube

Music is a passion that began for him while at school.

“I would come home from high school and stay up till five in the morning just learning how to record myself,” he said.

“It was pretty crazy to come from making music in my bedroom,” he said of his success.

But with his commercial success, Singe said he began to lose his sense of self.

“The biggest thing that I dealt with [in the music industry] was identity issues and being told that I was supposed to sound like this and do these things a certain way and appeal to this crowd when I had a totally different vision of that,” he said.

“What I really want to do is just relate to people’s emotions.”

It was during this time that he returned from Los Angeles to his hometown of Sydney where he reconnected with his taha Māori to write his first single, Whānau, which will be released in te reo Māori as part of Waiata Anthems, on May 12.

Singe (Ngāti Porou) is releasing his first te reo Māori single, Whānau, on this year's Waiata Anthems.  Photo / Supplied

Singe was able to learn and connect to his reo while working with fellow musician Tawaroa Kawana to translate his waiata.

He said it was a special experience given the scarcity of te reo Māori in Sydney.

“It’s just cool to hear myself and my voice in the language that my ancestors came from,” although Australia-born Singe said hearing his song in te reo Māori was confronting at first.

“I never expected or thought that I would do something like that,” he said.

“But to have done it, it makes me want to do it a lot more.”

This year Waiata Anthems will release songs in phases coinciding with NZ Music Month (May), Matariki (July) and Waiata Anthems Week (September).

Singe’s single will be one of six waiata to drop this month, including music from MOHI, Chad Chambers, Nikau Grace and Corrella.

Waiata Anthems began in 2019 as a way of celebrating and encouraging the revitalisation of te reo Māori at scale.