The Concept Behind The Album
The concept of the album draws on themes of love and war, revolution and change. The key inspiration behind the concept is a letter scripted by Henare Taratoa in March of 1864 to the Governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey. This letter outlined the manner in which both Māori and British should conduct themselves during war - in this instance, the battle of Pukehinahina (Gate Pa). A code of conduct if you will. These were known as the 'Rules of Engagement' - which is where the album takes its name.
I felt it was my obligation as a story teller to ensure our own (Māori) stories remain at the forefront of the mindset. Too long has our (New Zealand) school curriculum focused on the histories of foreign lands and peoples, when we should be discussing and disseminating our own stories first. It’s about creating a culture of understanding through honest dialogue, where we can be comfortable talking to our past, both good and bad.
The Overall Sound Of The Album
The soundscape is an epic collision of traditional ways of thinking and modern musicianship. The sound was created the same way as the majority of the lyrical content, and with the same intention - to uphold the integrity of Māori culture in the current context of New Zealand.
The Journey Of Creating The Album
This album has been five years in the making. So, you can imagine this journey has been a huge test of patience and resilience, much like the concept of the album really. The initial conception and development started in Wellington - my home of almost 10 years. Then, with life taking over and everything in between, it was completed in Tauranga - my spiritual home. And it all makes sense, even though it’s taken this long to complete, and I am happy with the outcome.
The Mission Behind The Album
The key message in my album is to encourage understanding. In order to understand where we are heading to, we must not only acknowledge our past, we must understand its implications and the effect it has had on the current landscape of New Zealand. We can do so much better in this area and it seems we have only made incremental change. I would love to help effect a dramatic shift for the betterment of generations to come.
The aim is to encourage open and honest dialogue about the state of New Zealand race relations and obligations to uphold the Treaty of Waitangi. To forge relationships and bridges through understanding, compassion and love. This is where New Zealand needs to head in order to create a real sense of unity amongst all who call this place home.
The key messages of this album translate to any and all countries where oppression is present. It challenges the status quo but at the same time asks for open and honest dialogue to achieve understanding.
About The Use Of Hall’s Family’s Historical Recordings In The Album
Whatever I do, I take everything to do with my upbringing with me. It means everything to have my koroua, Turirangi Te Kani, feature on this album. He is my grandfather’s older brother, who was held in the highest regard. This archival recording was from an interview held in 1968, and references the battles of Pukehinahina and Te Ranga, which the Rules of Engagement were written for. It made sense in my heart to have my family involved as it speaks to our past, from the past, into the future.
About The Use Of Te Reo Māori In The Album
Te reo Māori is one of the official languages of New Zealand. If I am to live by my statements and morals it is only right that I write songs in te reo Māori also. There is so much power in the language, and everything it stands for. Its presence in this album is like the air I breathe.
About ‘Black Light’
When this album was in development, an incredible Māori visual artist passed away. 'Black Light' is in memory of the great Ralph Hotere, and the lyrics are inspired by his many works he created over the years. Mara TK helped coin this song, and features on this track as well.
About Te Ahi Kai Pō
'Te Ahi Kai Pō' means 'the fire burning away the darkness' and is in reference to finding peace following the aftermath of war. The battle of Te Ranga in June of 1864 is the inspiration for this song, which was an unplanned slaughter of many Māori. This was in retaliation to the battle of Pukehinahina, where British found themselves at a loss. 'Te Ahi Kai Pō' is a song which tries to find resolve through times of despair.