Traditional waiata, or songs, were not just sung or composed by men and women for entertainment but for specific purposes. Waiata were sung in public to express a range of emotions and to convey messages and experiences. Even today waiata still holds an important role in bringing the past into the present.
Traditional waiata lyrics were a way of recording and passing down knowledge and stories to present generations; knowledge like the historical celebrations and laments of iwi, ancestor and composer. These songs whether sung by individuals or groups were expressions of a shared history between singer(s) and audience.
At school, we use Waiata as part of our school life. We share them in a range of ways such as at our whakatau, in assemblies to give thanks for the learning that has just been shared or to come together at the start of the day.
Below are some links to some well known waita that your children will learn – perhaps you could learn with them?