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The original version of this arrangement was one of several made in 1987 for my choir Opus at Epsom Girls Grammar School. They were intended as straightforward arrangements of well-known Māori pieces for treble voice choirs. A version for mixed-voice choir (SSATB) was made in 1996 for the New Zealand and Australian tour by the St. Olaf Choir of Minnesota (conductor: Anton Armstrong).
The Māori people were the earliest settlers in New Zealand, arriving in the country about a thousand years ago. This piece belongs to the more recent 'concert party' tradition of Māori music, rather than the traditional pre-European musical forms and styles. Before European contact, the music of the Maori people consisted largely of monophonic chants with a very limited range of pitches. The early missionaries brought with them their own musical styles which were soon taken over by the Māori people. Many well-known Māori songs are really a mix of European and early Māori forms.
Hine e Hine is a gentle lullaby. It was written by Fannie Rose Howie (1868-1916) who performed under the stage name of Princess Te Rangi Pai. Born in the Gisborne area of Maori and European parents, she showed early interest in singing, and after marrying undertook study in Australia and England. Her fine contralto voice, and natural stage presence, lead to a significant recital career both in England and in New Zealand on her return in 1905. Illness dogged the last years of her life, and she is now best remembered for this song.
The text, with a close translation of the Māori words, is:
E tangi ana koe, hine e hine
You are crying my daughter
Kua ngenge ana koe, hine e hine
You are tired my daughter
Ka ti to puiri ra, noho i te aroha
Stop your sadness, rest in love
Te ngakau o te matua, hine e hine.
The heart of the father, my daughter.
Text in te reo by Princess Te Rangi Pai
22 Apr 2018: Performed by Nota Bene at Sacred Heart Cathedral