19-year-old animator Turanga Mahutonga is creating Waiata Bro’s: A series of fun animated music videos that teach words and phrases in te reo Māori for everyone to sing along to.
Turanga Mahutonga grew up in a Māori speaking whānau in Rotorua. Music and art was celebrated and encouraged at home, so it’s little wonder that Turanga combines his creative talent with his passion for te reo Māori.
It all came together earlier this year, when Turanga moved to Ōtaki for a six-week animation intensifier course at the Māoriland Tech Creative Hub - MATCH.
For his graduation project, Turanga presented an animation of waiata and te reo Māori aimed at young children. The tune was a hit right away with children and adults alike. Turanga knew he was onto something.
“Everyone was happy when they heard my waiata. They quickly picked up the words and I would hear them singing it for days afterwards. Even those who were learning te reo Māori were singing along. It was exactly what I wanted to happen and it spurred me to write and animate more waiata” says Turanga.
Turanga has a vision. It’s called WAIATA BRO’S. He plans to write, sing and animate 15 catchy waiata that offer words and phrases to help anyone feel comfortable about speaking te reo. He is a third of the way through a list of songs that include language about Atua Māori, kai, jobs, animals, numbers, emotions, pepeha and greetings.
It’s the waiata about greetings and mihi that Turanga has decided to release in time for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori.
“It’s a waiata of greetings used from the morning to the end of a day. My whakaaro is that by singing it, more people will be able to use te reo Māori every day.” says Turanga.
At the same time as the release of his first music video, Turanga and MATCH are launching a Boosted campaign to raise funds so he can write and animate 10 more waiata for his Waiata Bro's collection.
“With your help, I will be able to write, sing and animate a further 11 catchy waiata that includes Atua Māori, kai, jobs, animals, numbers, emotions, pepeha and greetings. I’m trying to raise $8,000 over the next month - this will enable me to book a studio and hire creative support including artists and musicians to complete the project. With the support of Māoriland and you - I know that we can make something magical. We all remember the waiata from our childhood - I look forward to Waiata Bro's being the Māori “Wiggles” of Aotearoa!”
“We need far more reo Māori resources for our tamariki and their whānau” says Māoriland managing director Libby Hakaraia. “We hope everyone will support Turanga’s vision to create really joyful waiata that celebrate reo Māori as such a beautiful language of our country.”
Turanga is currently in the MATCH Incubator programme after completing an internship at Māoriland. Turanga also won an award for best actor for his first acting role in a short film, Manu Masters at the Māoriland Film Festival 2021.
We appreciate your support in helping Waiata Bro's succeed. Thank you. Ka nui te mihi ā ngākau ki ngā kaihāpai ō te ao Māori.
Turanga is a smart and personable interviewee in te reo Māori and English. For an interview or other details please contact
This project has been developed through the MATCH Incubator. With training, mentorship, and industry-led opportunities M.A.T.C.H is a pathway for rangatahi to high-value careers as the producers, developers, and thought-pioneers of the future. Turanga is a graduate of the second intake of M.A.T.C.H (Jan 2021) and impressed with his passion and skills for reo Māori, art and animation. Waiata Bro's will be produced by Māoriland Productions.
The M.A.T.C.H Intensifier programme, supported by the Ministry of Social Development and Vodafone Foundation, is currently accepting applications for our fourth cohort commencing October 18.