Beautiful Thing Article

Singer and Kiwi treasure Stan Walker returns to his home marae to record a soulful rendition of ‘Ma Te Marie’, as part of the Offering project. In his own words, he describes how ‘momentous’ it is for him to share his heritage with the world, and why he will always be there for The Salvation Army.

 

So today we are here at Tamapahore, my marae in Tauranga. This is actually my Nannie’s marae and we’re now onto our second wharenui because the original burnt down. I think this place is really beautiful—there’s a lot of history here and plenty of carvings, both old and new. We’ve come to sing a Māori hymn we grew up with called ‘Ma Te Marie’.

My great-grandmother is the oldest of all her lot and she died when I was about three years old. This was a big loss. I was brought up by her brother and her sister-in-law and saw them as my great grandparents, along with my other nannies. Three weeks ago, I had my two nannies die a week apart. They were both laid here, which is quite special, as this is now a chance for me to come back and breathe new life into the place.

‘Ma Ta Marie’ is a Māori hymn which we have sung since the beginning of time. Well, since I’ve been born anyway. It’s part of the Rātana Church and Nga Iwi Morehu, and is one of the first songs I ever learned to sing—it’s just beautiful and has so much life. But it also takes me back to every single person we’ve lost. I believe singing it how we did today has given it some new life.

 

Whānau o te Whenua

In this song I am reflecting on how I am Whānau o te Whenua, a Māori from Aotearoa. I love showing off not just myself and what I can do, but more what we can do, or what the people can do—I always feel like I’m stronger when I have a collective behind me.

Today has been quite beautiful. I was picturing both of my nans sitting there—little old ladies holding my hands. I think they would have loved this and been really proud. Not because of me, but because of the legacy we’re carrying on for them. I also think today is a momentous occasion for me and my whānau because of where I’ve come from. I have always been connected to my home and my marae. It was where I was brought up and I still consider myself a marae kid. I was raised with many different parents, and my various cousins were my best mates and worst enemies, but I know they’ve got my back till I die.

It’s a beautiful thing coming here. While I’ve been a part of lots of events on different marae, this is kind of my last stop. When I started singing, I had this vision that I was going to come home—a dream I’ve had for over ten years now. Yet I never actually imagined I’d be singing my own language here, in an event that’s not just for Māori, but something for everyone. It’s actually quite a big deal because we don’t usually do this. For me to bring people into my world, and into my everyday life, and to see how I was brought up, and to sing the song on my marae and with my family—man, that is beautiful.

Not many people can say they’ve done that before. We are by-products of our parents’ sacrifices, we are their legacy and we get to do things they couldn’t even dream of.

 

Sallies Go Gangsta

One of the things about this project that’s awesome for me, aside from the fact we’re doing a song in Māori and performing it on my marae, is that the Offering project is connected to The Salvation Army, with proceeds going to their life-changing work.

While I’ve always been a part of giving back, I was especially drawn to the Offering because of its partnership with them. I have long been a big fan of what the Sallies do, who they are and what they represent. I was also excited because I loved the idea of being able to sing something we don’t really perform on a regular basis—all while being part of the kaupapa.

I have done a lot with The Salvation Army in the past—I’ve written two different songs for two different campaigns and got to see firsthand the amazing work they do. What they do is incredible. Many look at [the Sallies] as being a bunch of nice old people, but I’m telling you, these people are gangsta! They have to deal with things you’re not ready for! And they do it all because they want to serve people, and they want to serve people at their worst. They want to love, help and rehabilitate them through hardships, so they can become the best they can be.

They are the kind of people who are there in the pits and dark alleyways, places where people are found at their worst. The places where everyone else goes ‘yuck’ or ‘I feel sorry for them’, yet still walk past. The Salvation Army are the selfless ones who actually get stuck in. They may look nice but trust me, they are actually total gangstas!

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Ma Te Marie

Ma te marie a te Atua
Tatou katoa e tiaki;
Mana ano e whakau
0 tatou ngakau ki te pai

Ma te Atua Tamaiti ra,
Ma te Wairua Tapu hoki,
Ratou, Atua kotahi nei.
Tatou katoa e whakapai.

Amine.

The peace of God
keep us all.
He will confirm our
hearts in goodness.

May the Son of God
and the Holy Spirit
too, one God,
bless us all.

Amen.

 

Check out more about the Offering Project here.