World War One commemorations have provided the impetus for a number of projects at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. UNESCO’s World Day for Audiovisual Heritage gives us a moment to celebrate this work undertaken to ensure the preservation of, and access to, audiovisual materials relating to New Zealand’s experience of World War One.
In this blog post, the fourth in our World Day for Audiovisual Heritage series, the archive’s Taha Māori department reflects on a waiata composed during the war, E Pari Rā.
When I was asked to consider writing for the combined Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision and Australian Film and Sound Archive Anzac World War One online project, I was miffed and excited at the same time. Miffed because I wasn’t sure where to start with any of the briefs that might be sent my way, and excited by the same.
One of the items assigned to me was E Pari Rā, a waiata written by Paraire Tomoana in 1918.
Listen to E Pari Rā here
The tune was familiar, as were some of the lyrics, from my days serving in the New Zealand Territorial Forces. How many parades had I been a part of where this tune set the cadence, who really knows?
So I started first by listening to the sound files supplied by Sarah Johnston, part of the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision sound archiving team. In the recordings the son of the composer Taanga Tomoana suggests the waiata was written for a friend of his father’s, Maku-i-te-Rangi Ellison, who asked Paraire to pen a lament for his son who fell during the WWI efforts to defend the Empire. This Paraire agreed to, with the view that the song lament all soldiers in all campaigns.
On listening to the audio file I gathered a deeper understanding and appreciation for the sentiment and meaning behind the waiata, how Paraire drew inspiration from the ebb and flow of the tides in and around Heretaunga and Ahuriri, and how this is a phenomena the soldiers in far off campaigns would have experienced while fighting in far off countries too.
Taanga gives a vivid picture of the story behind the penning of the waiata.
I conducted some further research by reacquainting my friendship with one of Paraire’s descendants, Ngātai Huata, daughter of the padre for the 28th Māori Battalion, Wi Te Tau Huata. It was Ngātai who confirmed for me that the waiata was indeed for all soldiers, and not written solely for Whakatomo Ellison, as has been mentioned in other places. Continue reading