New Zealand music industry icon and Te Reo champion Hinewehi Mohi has been recognised for her dedication to her music and culture.
The Waipukurau-born singer and producer has been made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DNZM) for her services to Māori, music and television in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Mohi said the recognition is a wonderful tribute to all those who’ve supported her, whanau, hapū, iwi and all the champions of Te Reo Māori who’ve been working hard to revitalise the language.
“Through music I have found a platform to really provide an access point for people to be able to access the language and the culture and experience it that way,” she said.
The 57-year-old has been an integral part of New Zealand’s music industry since the 1990s and is well-known for her performance of the national anthem in Māori at the 1999 Rugby World Cup in Twickenham.
It was the first time this had been done at an international rugby match, leading into the now customary practice to sing the anthem both in Te Reo Māori and English.
Mohi is also an award-winning television and music producer, but says her real passion project is Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre, which she co-founded in 2004 for people with disabilities.
She first experienced music therapy in London in 1999 when she was promoting her music and singing the national anthem with her daughter Hineraukatauri who has cerebral palsy.
Mohi said her daughter acts as constant inspiration.
Raukatauri now has around 600 people receiving music therapy each week in its three centres in Hawke’s Bay, Auckland and Whangārei.
Mohi, her daughter and Auckland-born husband moved back to Hawke’s Bay from Auckland four-and-a-half years ago, and said she loves being home.
It was at her Havelock North home that she produced the 2019 album Waiata/Anthems, supporting well-known musicians including Six60, Drax Project Stan Walker and Bic Runga to re-record their hit songs in Te Reo Māori.
She said she loved being able to help those artists connect with the language.
“Through that they connected to the culture and their own whakapapa, their own genealogy and heritage,” Mohi said.
“For pakeha artists that have done the same thing, it’s really empowered them as well to feel whole and complete as New Zealanders.”
Waiata/Anthems debuted at number one on the New Zealand top 40 chart and achieved gold record sales.
She said it’s been amazing to see the likes of Drax Project and Six60 perform hit songs in Māori to live crowds, around the country and on stage in Hawke’s Bay.
Hinewehi Mohi also became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2008 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
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