Entertainment | Hinewehi Mohi

Dame Hinewehi Mohi to be inducted in NZ Music Hall of Fame

Te Whare Taonga Puoro o Aotearoa is set to see a new person enter, with none other than Kiwi legend, Dame Hinewehi Mohi becoming the 2024 official inductee.

”It’s part of a really wonderful whānau of musicians and people who love music and really feel [a] sense of power through music and communicating ideas and messages and stories and a point of view that are important,” she told Te Ao Māori News.

When Mohi was told she would be inducted into the Hall of Fame, she felt “overwhelmed.”

Wanting to acknowledge the award, Mohi emphasised that it wasn’t her own but belonged to all those who were in her life.

“There’s sort of a multi-pronged approach to how we can accept these kinds of great honours that I carry on behalf of all of us that are involved with Māori music and how we can really use these opportunities to highlight and showcase the beauty of waiata te reo Māori.

—  Dame Hinewehi Mohi

“I think for myself to accept this award on my own, it’s never on my own and I carry with me all those who paved the way and supported me and mentored me and those who have passed, those who are still supporting me and the kaupapa of waiata te reo Māori, pūoro Māori.

“So it’s about the bigger picture and acknowledging all of that and it’s the only way I’ve been able to do anything in my life is with the support and Aroha of those that are committed to te reo Māori and kaupapa Māori such as Māori music so I’m just a conduit of these things.”

Since the NZ Music Hall of Fame was established in 2007, it has seen the induction of over 40 artists and acts, one being Mohi’s long-time friend since attending St Joseph’s Maori Girls’ College, Moana Maniapoto.

The Te Ao with Moana presenter who’s been in the hall since 2016.

“[Moana] said to me last night ‘I’m really looking forward to hanging out in the hall with you,’ so I’m not sure what that would look like but I’m sure it will be fun.

“Moana and I have worked together and sung together and we fully understand that responsibility of transmitting those ideas and stories and all the beauty of waiata, it’s a fantastic and powerful force and probably the most accessible way for people to connect with the language and cultures, so it’s been a privilege to be a part of that,” The Dame said.

She will be honoured at the Aotearoa Music Awards on Thursday May 30.

To be inducted one must have released a record or achieved some other significant professional milestone at least 25 years before the year of induction, as well as having demonstrated unquestionable musical excellence.

Qualities Dame Hinewehi Mohi contains, as this year she is celebrating four different events in her life that span from 1999 to 2019.

National anthem

In 1999, Mohi attended the Rugby World Cup in the United Kingdom, where she sang the Aotearoa’s national anthem in te reo Māori.

This performance would cause controversy, but it also opened up a conversation, which led to ‘God Defend New Zealand’ waiata being sung in both te reo pākehā and te reo Māori.

Since then she has loved the fact the new generation grew up with the te reo Māori portion added to the national anthem

“That to me is probably the best thing I could have gotten out of that and to know that, even though it caused a bit of a stir at the time we’ve worked through that at the last 25 years and I think, we’ve come to a very good place and te reo Māori is apart of everything around us and our collective thinking around identity and nationhood, all sort of focuses on the language and the rich cultural heritage that we have here and it’s uniqueness in the world.

“I’m glad [the younger generation] are just growing up in a world that it’s accepted to sing the national anthem in Māori but to experience and share the beautiful culture that we have.”


In the same year, Mohi also released her debut album ‘Oceania.’

“Oceania is quite an unusual collection of waiata it sort of draws on some traditional chant, mōteatea style of contemporary music, western instruments, taonga pūoro the traditional Māori instruments, and a blend of those ideas and thinking.

“It’s lovely to be a part of that and to know that it’s still something that can be listened to today with some degree of enjoyment,” said Mohi.

A waiata from the album that many Kiwi kids may have grown up with was ‘Kotahitanga,’ which is performed in Jump Jam performances.

“That’s been neat as well because it’s continued to resonate and be a part of the musical culture of Aotearoa but that’s how magic music is, it can be resilient and it can remain in our hearts and our minds and how we understand ourselves.

“It’s been a real privilege to be a part of that music making and its enduring impact on young people and older ones too.”

Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre

As well as celebrating the 25th anniversary of the national anthem and her album’s release, she is celebrating 20 years since the opening of Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre.

The music therapy centre came about due to her daughter having cerebral palsy and the producer who worked on Oceania told her about it.

When they were in London they got a taste of it and after they returned home there weren’t many people who offered the service, so Hinewehi along with her partner created a centre in 2004 in Tamaki Makaurau.

Currently, there are four centres across the North Island Whangarei, Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay and Auckland.

Thousands attend each week for music therapy.

Mohi calls it “the most wonderful gift to share with others.

“The Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre is something really dear to my heart, it’s been the most wonderful thing for our daughter and I know for other people and families where disabilities have completely changed their lives.

“This is like a door that opened so many different horizons for people with disabilities and I really treasure it as something that we want to continue to share and work very hard to maintain,” she said.

Waiata Anthem

15 years after creating the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre, Mohi along with Sir Tīmoti Kāretu collaborated with Aotearoa singers to write famous songs in

It debuted at number one on the Official NZ Music Charts, spending 27 weeks in the Top 40 and 115 weeks on the NZ Top 20 Album chart, including three weeks at number one. It was the sixth best-selling NZ album of 2019 and the tenth best-selling of 2020.

Artists who took part include Stan Walker, Benee, Teeks, Drax Project, Six60 and more.

“Waiata Anthems was such a fun project.

“It just went gangbusters and blew up and we had no idea that it would have that impact on a musical level and also for those artists particularly the ones who had no connections to their marae or whānau or the language or culture, to be able to reconnect to that side of themselves was really amazing.

“For Benee and Tami Neilson, who aren’t Māori, to be able to see that side of what Aoteroatanga is all about, so it was a really magic experience.

This year marks the fifth anniversary and to celebrate they are releasing a vinyl edition of the album which will be out in September to coincide with the 25th anniversary of her singing the national anthem.

What’s Next?

She is a dame, a new person in the music hall of fame, Mohi has done so much in her career so Te Ao Māori News asked her, “What’s next?”

Mohi responded that she will not be doing another album but is open to the idea of making more waiata te reo Māori so it can be shared across the world.

As for now, she works as a Manukura Pūoro Māori at APRA AMCOS NZ supporting upcoming artists and kapa haka artists with their writing as well as advocating for the growth of Māori music and the development of a bilingual music industry in New Zealand.

One project she is currently working on is taking the title of largest haka back from France after they achieved the feat almost 10 years ago with 4028 people taking part.

In September, she is aiming to bring around 16,000 people together to be a part of history.

“That will be really bringing a spotlight onto the world of haka and all its beauty and uniqueness and providing an opportunity for people to come together in a nation-building wonderful time to celebrate our unique cultural heritage in Aotearoa.

“Now that the regional competitions for Matatini are over, everyone can have a little bit of a breather, get over that haka hangover.”

She didn’t reveal too much information about the upcoming haka but said more will be revealed on Matariki.