Songs that shaped us…Poi E

Jump back to 1984…

Movies included Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Footloose, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Beverley Hills Cops and Karate Kid (the original and best in my opinion).

Fashion was big, big hair, big shoulder pads, and big sun glasses.

Music top hits included (Billboards top 5 1984)

  1. Prince When Dove Crys
  2. Tina Turner Whats Love Got To Do With It
  3. Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson Say Say Say
  4. Kenny Loggins Footloose
  5. Phil Collins Against All Odds (Take a look at me now)

But in the back blocks of New Zealand, with Mount Taranaki in the distance, the small township of Patea and the local Maori Club took the world by storm with a song sung entirely in Maori.

Poi E has become a classic in New Zealand and remains a icon and favourite today. Maori traditional waiata integrated with the influences of hip hop and techno sounds from popular culture at the time. The video was low budget and included traditional and popular dancing with a touch of the humour and honesty that is provincial New Zealand.

It remained #1 on the New Zealand charts for four weeks and saw a come back in 2009 with a Vodafone advertisement and in 2010 in the movie Boy; Taika Waiti included a Thriller haka version of the song within the movies credits. In 2016 Poi E: The story of our song movie was released at the New Zealand International Film Festival.

Patea’s meat-freezing works were the economic basis of the small town and when they closed in 1982 the future was crim however the Patea Maori Clubs hit song of Poi E in 1984 drew nationwide attention to the town and the image of the Patea Remembrance Arch with the Aotea canoe, by which the Taranaki and Whanganui tribes immigrated to New Zealand, is known to all as a result of the song. The group also got to tour the United Kingdom and gave a Royal Command Performance.

This song remains ingrained in our culture today…in our house it wakes my husband up every morning as he has it set as his alarm ring.

Jump back to 1984 and add it to your Spotify list today!

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