Watch Fly My Pretties - Waiata Anthems / Streaming now on TVNZ + 

Fly My Pretties make their return with ‘Tō Kātua Whānau’, a Te Reo Māori version of their track ‘Family Tree’, translated and recorded especially for the TVNZ series Waiata Anthems

The episode follows Fly My Pretties frontman Barnaby Weir on his journey to connect with his Māori heritage which was lost when his Māori mother was adopted by a Pākehā family in the 1950s, severing all ties she had with her whakapapa and te ao Māori, causing lifelong trauma and disconnection.

The first track on their first album Live at Bats, 'Family Tree' is a track about identity and a deep yearning for connection to whānau - “where do your roots run down into the ground & into your family tree”. This version has been translated into Te Reo Māori with support from mātanga reo and iwi leader of the Taranaki region, Wharehoka Wano. A deeply personal track, this version features Barnaby performing all instruments, with Wharehoka providing percussion from the local Parihaka drum, belonging to the Taranaki region. 

Frontman Barnaby Weir shares his thoughts on the journey below -

"I'm extremely grateful and excited to be sharing Tō Kātua Whānau, a reo Māori translated version of Family Tree for this year's edition of Waiata Anthems. This is the first song I've released in reo Māori and it represents only the beginning of my Reo education.

Alongside the single release comes the Waiata Anthems documentary which follows my journey to connect with my Māori heritage which was lost when my Māori mother was adopted by a Pākehā family in the 1950s, severing all ties she had with her whakapapa and te ao Māori, causing lifelong trauma and disconnection.

Beginning this journey with Mum has been an incredibly humbling and inspiring experience and working with Wharehoka Wano on the translation of Family tree has also been really special.

The original English version of ‘Family Tree’ has lots of references to natural phenomena within it, like roots, rain, dirt and birds for example - metaphors for different aspects of human life and emotions. 

The great thing about the Māori translation of these elements is the new perspective gives a greater depth of meaning to the song and most of the lyrics. While in English we are just mentioning natural things, in the Māori version these elements hold a more symbolic and spiritual gravitas. I am still learning about the significance of the translation of the song and the different layers of meaning, which is something I find really fascinating, and has also added a new power to the song's meaning and lyrics."

With the original waiata exploring the roots of his lineage, its story ties in perfectly to coincide with Weir’s personal family journey as they travel to Taranaki and are welcomed by local iwi. Learning the story of the massacre at Parihaka, helps them understand that the trauma of severed connection to whakapapa, language, and culture is shared with many Māori - 

The Waiata Anthems episode provides a snapshot into the displacement both Barnaby and his mother feel, not knowing their own whakapapa. As Barnaby records ‘Tō Kātua Whānau’, both he and his mother discover a safe space to explore their identity as Māori.

“Contributing to the Waiata Anthems project has been particularly meaningful, and a huge learning experience for my mother Judi and I, and is something that is very close to my heart.”

Fly My Pretties - Tō Kātua Whānau / Family Tree
Available now digitally