The New Zealand Army Band have dropped a cover of Ka Hao and Rob Ruha’s waiata ‘35’, dedicating it to Tairāwhiti after the damage of Cyclone Gabrielle.
‘35’ - the debut single of Ka Hao (a youth choir) - was released in 2021 and celebrates State Highway 35, which travels along the Eastern Bay of Plenty, servicing Gisborne to Ōpōtiki.
After the devastation that area faced from Cyclone Gabrielle, the NZ Army Band released a cover of ‘35’ “dedicated to all those affected”.
“The song celebrates Tairāwhiti and life on State Highway 35,” the Army Band writes in the description of the video. “On the East Coast of the North Island, from Ōpōtiki to Gisborne - all areas which have seen true devastation and loss over the past month.
“All our aroha goes out to you.”
Commenters reckon the rendition is genuine and heartwarming, and we gotta agree.
“Ka pai NZ Army Band!” wrote one person. “Amazing cover of an awesome waiata”.
“Mauri ora!!” said another. “Felt your aroha! It's not easy to do a cover like that. Thank you all!”
“Beautifully sung by all,” a third added. “Sounds great, thank you”.
The original song went viral on TikTok in November of 2021, seeing so much success that it eventually reached number one on the NZ Top 40 Singles Chart.
Kaea Hills, a member and leader of Ko Hao, told NZMusician that seeing their song spread Te Reo around the world was unbelievable.
“It’s amazing when you see those TikToks and you see those Americans pronouncing our places, our Māori words, our hometown!” she said. “It was magic and it still boggles my mind, every time I go on TikTok it’s the first thing I hear.”
“It’s still quite surreal now, seeing our songs out there, listening to our songs playing on the radio, it’s still magic!” she added.