KIA ORA! Welcome to Beautiful New Zealand! So fun, I've actually been! I studied abroad there and I loved it. I'm so happy you guys voted for it to be the nation for the 2nd playlist. Plus It's also New Zealand Music month so this is like the best time to dive in!
Since this blog is also partly a travel blog, i'm going to tell you a little bit about my experience. When I studied abroad there in the summer of 2012, it was actually winter on that side of the world. To prepare myself for the trip I learned more about the culture, learned some Maori (native people of the island), and of course, listened to the music.
As soon as you come off the plane in Auckland, you witness something special. The fact that you are greeted in a language that is of the native community is such a rarity when you compare it to America and how we treat our native people. To see english and Maori together to welcome us showcased and meant a great respect for the nations native people. This acknowledgement of the Maori presence was a theme throughout my whole trip. Everywhere we went they had Maori translations.
While I was there, I stayed in Rotorua with 2 different homestay families which were amazing and also did a stay at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds with the Maori. All of the stays were so wonderful and they showed me different aspects of life in New Zealand. But honestly I can write a book on how much I love New Zealand so.....
To wrap this experience up in sort Bullet points:
New Zealand has the nicest/genuine people i've ever met. They were so welcoming and thats coming from someone who has brown skin.
I honestly believe New Zealand is up there in best quality of life ratings when you compare it to other nations.
If you come to New Zealand be prepared for lots of sheep, the best kiwi in the world, a lot of dare devil behavior (just do all of the crazy things), volcanos , lots of hiking, etc.
YOU HAVE TO GO TO HOBBITON! (Lord of the Rings set)!
Rotorua smells like rotten eggs (do to the geothermal activity) but the Maori are great - go visit and learn!
So why focus on the Maori? I think we as people can look at how New Zealand reconciled with the Maori and find better ways to fight for and treat our own native communities better. I wanted this playlist to highlight not only the beauty in the language but also the beauty in their storytelling. That's why I started with Maisey Rika, a powerful vocalist who sings so honestly in Maori (Te reo). Her songs , especially from the Whitiora album are beautiful in its storytelling. My favorite song on the album is "Ruiaimoko. It starts off with a guitar lullaby melody and then she comes in and lulls you in. Then powerful strings push through the track to show you the intensity of the song to build what the story is truly about, the god of earthquakes, Volcanoes and seasons. You can see and understand the whole song with her music video for this song below.
Now if you don't know who I am, I am a reggae artist and I am always intrigued when I hear reggae music played outside of the Caribbean. I wonder how it got there and how come it's so prominent? When I went to New Zealand and announced my step dad is from Jamaica they started showing me all types of Maori reggae and I was just amazed! Like here we are on the other side of the world and reggae is being performed in a language that is not even known by the majority of the world, yet this south pacific island produced great reggae music!
Well, since I finally took the time to learn why this is , let's just say I am very happy with what I found!
It all began with our favorite person: The Great Bob Marley!
A BIT OF HISTORY: 1979
On the 16th of April, 1979, Bob Marley Made History in New Zealand: He sole handedly introduced reggae to New Zealanders and they were hooked! It became one of the most influential concerts in the history of the nation and he spoke to people who felt his messages of equality and unity can be justified for themselves. Reggae became the way the Maori can peacefully protest.
Another story that I got a hold of was the story of Aaradhna, a New Zealander who is Samoan and Indian who made headlines with calling out racism she's faced. The Song is "Brown Girl," (also the album tittle). This song is not just a strong personal statement but also very brava and political. From the start of it, this song demands your attention.
"I’m not just a brown girl in the rain. I’m a girl that likes to sing,"
- Brown Girl, Aaradhna
The song became even more political and controversial in the 2016 New Zealand Music Awards after she refused the Best Urban/ Hip Hop Album she won. She stated the only reason she won is because they placed her "in the category of brown people." She stated that the award committee should add an Rnb award because thats who she is and what her music is. You can watch the whole award situation below.
New Zealand proved itself to be so interesting. Every artist brought me something unique and thought provoking, whether it was storytelling or history, New Zealand is much more than what the eye can see. Definitely going to keep listening, learning and hopefully I can return after Carona to the land I do miss. But until then, I am still traveling through music. You can listen to New Zealand's Playlist if you click here
Are you ready to keep traveling?
Next up is Colombia!
Passport Stamps Here we go!