Entertainment | Waiata

Ōtautahi Christchurch legends Dillastrate release special new waiata, ‘Māwherangi’

Dillastrate - Henare Kaa (drums, lead vocals) and Tim Driver (keyboards, bass synth, backing vocals).

Christchurch duo Dillastrate has released a new waiata Māwherangi.

The new waiata (song) has emerged following a run of heavy-hitting waiata reo Māori releases, including ‘Ko Tātou Te Ahi’ (selected as the international theme song for New Zealand Cricket (Black Caps and White Ferns), Hot 20 NZ Singles, Radioscope Te Reo Māori & Alt, Waiata Anthems, Te Māngai Pāho), which Rolling Stone AUS/NZ featured as a “Song You Need To Know”.

Māwherangi is another release that showcases what incredible artists Dillastrate’s Henare ‘H’ Kaa (lead vocals/drums) and Tim Driver (keys/bass synth/loops/vocals) are.

Connecting with Dillastrate’s background as stalwart writers and session musicians in the New Zealand roots scene, the track captures an uptempo reggae flavour, filtered through a modern production approach. The waiata balances warm keyboard layers against a dense and heavy rhythm section, with H’s voice soaring above and carrying the narrative of the waiata.

Dillastrate got its start in 2017 with the release of Black Diamond EP and a strong momentum.

“We like to describe ourselves as a “five-piece” duo since we are trying to do so much at once on stage! We also have a third member – our sound engineer Jamie Thomson, who accompanies us everywhere we tour and perform,” Kaa told the Herald.

Dillatrate's latest offering Māwherangi.

“We met at the Christchurch Jazz School (now known as Ara Music Arts) years and years ago, and haven’t stopped playing music together since. We just seemed to lock into each other’s musical styles really nicely, and have subsequently become session musicians for a massive range of acts over the years, as well as writing, recording and performing our own music. Our main project that solidified our working relationship was the late, great Aaron Tokona’s AHoriBuzz, who we toured and performed with non-stop for about two years.”

Their music range varies.

“We are a bit of a musical beast in that we have played and do play a massive range of styles. Dillastrate is a bit of a hybrid of musical styles that has coalesced into its own thing over the years … Specifically, the music has a pop production approach, and incorporates elements of soul, electronic, hip-hop, reggae, roots and funk. It’s a bit hard to describe in a succinct way - probably better for people to listen for themselves!”

“We are driven to write songs about things that matter the most to us - whānau, social issues, etc - but also for the pure love of playing music. We are most excited by making the kind of music that we would like to hear and passing this on to our listeners. There is nothing more satisfying than someone taking something that you have written and loving and cherishing it – it’s a rush like no other!

“We are also passionate about writing waiata reo Māori, not only as it offers a unique perspective in songwriting that simply cannot be captured in English, but also to promote and normalise its use. We love seeing an audience of people singing loudly in te reo Māori, and we are creatively attracted to contributing positively to a growing and brilliant body of waiata reo Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Kaa said Māwherangi is a waiata about coming back into the fold.

Māwherangi is about finding and looking after those people who have become socially disconnected and bringing them back into the fold. The waiata tells the story of a hawk’s solitary journey, which is used as a metaphor for those lonely outsiders who can’t seem to find their way to connection and whānaungatanga.”

“The waiata is being released via pretty much every music streaming service, as well as a music video on YouTube – just search for Dillastrate or Māwherangi wherever you get your music from!

“Whānau can find the song by searching for “Dillastrate” on their preferred music streaming platform (Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, etc), YouTube, or any of their preferred social media services (i.e. Facebook, Instagram).”

Kaa said their ultimate goal is to be ambassadors for Māori music.

“Our dream is to be ambassadors for waiata reo Māori around the world. We would love to see the emergence of a world market for indigenous music, and thankfully there are already pockets of this fanbase appearing here and there …

As live musicians, we are also really heavily focused on live performance, so we would love to continue to share this with audiences all around Aotearoa New Zealand, as well as export our live set abroad. We also want to continue in our quest to promote and celebrate te ao Māori and to encourage and normalise the use of te reo Māori through our waiata.

- NZ Herald