This paper considers the use of contemporary popular waiata in promulgating a Māori worldview by expressing cultural identity and belonging. Waiata are a traditional medium, a practice through which Māori knowledge, histories, culture and language continue to be passed down from one generation to another (Ka‘ai-Mahuta, 2010; McLean, 1996; Orbell, 1991; Smith, 2003). Similarities can be observed between traditional and contemporary waiata, in that messages are delivered through musical, melodic, rhythmic and harmonic motifs that are distinctively Māori.
How can waiata declare and perpetuate one’s belonging to place, to tūrangawaewae? Waiata are commonly performed at pōwhiri, following, and, in support of whaikōrero. Within this context, place is central to waiata. Its purpose is to complement the whaikōrero, ultimately expressing identity, broaching responsibility for, and the significance of place. Place in the form of tūrangawaewae, a place to stand, a purview of the use of language through waiata, contextualizes cultural identity through song.