Entertainment | Waiata

Musician and te reo advocate Codi Wehi-Ngatai launches EP for tamariki

Codi Wehi-Ngatai's new EP for tamariki features four waiata and two karakia.

In a move to promote te reo Māori among tamariki, musician Codi Wehi-Ngatai has released a new te reo EP titled Tahi — released under the artist name Kia Whanake, which means to grow or develop — which aims to bridge a significant gap in educational waiata Māori.

Driven by a mission to support the growth of te reo Māori for future generations, Wehi-Ngatai believes in the power of music to embed the language into daily life.

“I believe the more waiata Māori we have and the more we speak and sing the language, the more ingrained it will become in our day-to-day lives,” he said.

After recognising a lack of simple waiata to support the learning of te reo Māori for children, Wehi-Ngatai (Ngāti Maniapoto) began writing his own songs with this purpose.

“I like to play music around the house, and as my daughter grew up, I couldn’t find many simple waiata to support the learning of kupu Māori, or Māori words. I decided to write some waiata, and my daughter picked up the kupu and tunes very quickly.

“This motivated me to share these waiata with others who wish to support their tamariki with their te reo Māori,” he said.

Wehi-Ngatai’s appreciation for the educational power of waiata stems from his own childhood.

Musician Codi Wehi-Ngatai and his whānau.

“Growing up, my parents would always sing waiata to me, and I grew up in and around kapa haka. There are times where a tune will play for a waiata that I don’t remember learning, and somehow I know the words, and the tune, most likely from being surrounded by people that would sing these waiata.”

The Kia Whanake initiative goes beyond music. Wehi-Ngata has also developed videos and learning resources to enhance the educational impact of the songs.

“I hope that whānau, kindergartens, kōhanga reo, and schools will listen to the Tahi EP, learn and sing the songs, and engage with the resources.”

“In 10-15 years it would be awesome if there is a generation that grew up with my waiata which taught them colours or shapes in te reo.”

The Tahi EP has four waiata and two karakia that teach topics like animals, shapes, colours and family. Wehi-Ngatai says this EP is the starting point for the Kia Whanake kaupapa.

“I am hoping to continue to create more waiata and collaborate with other artists to make quality songs that support our tamariki in learning te reo Māori. The next EP will be Rua or Two.”

Born on the North Shore and raised in Auckland, Te Kūiti, and Whangaparāoa, Wehi-Ngatai is a descendant of Ngāti Maniapoto and Tainui Waka. At present he’s deepening his knowledge of te reo Māori and te ao Māori as a student at Te Wānanga Takiura.

The Tahi EP is now available on all major streaming platforms, and educational resources are accessible for whānau, schools, and kōhanga reo at

- NZ Herald