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Lorde has re-released a portion of her new album, Solar Power, in the native language of New Zealand.
The EP, titled Te Ao Mārama (translating to World of Light), features five songs sung in te reo Māori, the language of the indigenous people of New Zealand. The 24-year-old released the surprise tracks during Te Wiki o Te Reo, a week that celebrates the Māori language, and intends to donate all profits from the release to Māori charities.
Despite not being fluent, Lorde realised in making the nature-themed album that much of it was inspired by her home country and had the idea to release songs in te reo Māori. Determined to follow through with the idea, she told The Spinoff that she enlisted three Māori translators, who reworked some lyrics so they made better sense in the language.
“I’d taken each song line by line, and had really gone into it deeply,” she explained in the interview. “So, Hana (Mereraiha) had a good understanding of where I was at and was able to then take the translations to a more metaphorical place, or just invoke a figure that felt pertinent to her.” She also described her meeting with Sir Tīmoti Kāretu, the 84-year-old former head of the Māori Language Commission, who is highly regarded for his work in language preservation.
The singer, who is not Māori, acknowledged that some may not agree with her decision to record in the language. However, she explained that she would rather do it and be criticised than not do it at all.
“I’m white – however you want to interpret me wanting to engage with our Indigenous culture, that’s fair enough. I totally accept that, because it is really complicated,” she admitted. “This isn’t something where I have both feet on the ground – I am a little bit out of my depth, and I’m the first to admit that, and I’m opening myself up to any response to this.”