This article has been inspired by “Why Isn’t My Professor Māori?” (McAllister et al., 2019), an article which appeared in this journal and addressed the under-representation of, and inequities facing, Māori academic staff in universities in Aotearoa New Zealand. I present some personal reflections and raise some questions with regard to academics with Māori heritage but who struggle to identify as Māori.
This paper considers the use of contemporary popular waiata in promulgating a Māori worldview by expressing cultural identity and belonging. Waiata are a traditional medium, a practice through which Māori knowledge, histories, culture and language continue to be passed down from one generation to another (Ka‘ai-Mahuta, 2010; McLean, 1996; Orbell, 1991; Smith, 2003). Similarities can be observed between traditional and contemporary waiata, in that messages are delivered through musical, melodic, rhythmic and harmonic motifs that are distinctively Māori.