Watch: Classic Lion King waiata sung in te reo Māori

Source: Te Karere

As the rise of Matariki brought in the Māori new year, more history was made at Auckland’s Civic Theatre on Tuesday night with the world premiere of the Lion King presented in te reo Māori.

By Ethan Oneroa

Cast and crew were dressed in their best for the occasion. For them it had been a project years in the making.

"Back in 2016, we had this dream to re-vision and re-imagine film in te reo Māori, and we did that with Moana reo Māori," producer Chelsea Winstanley told Te Karere.

"Now this [Lion King reo Māori] is another re-iteration, so kīngi raiona is a dream come true for our next generation."

Lion King reo Māori production crew (left to right) Rob Ruha, Tweedie Waititi, Chelsea Winstanley and Pere Wihongi

An aspect of the film that had the audience jumping was the music. Musical director Rob Ruha said that it was important for him that the standard of the original versions were upheld.

"When it comes to re-writing these songs in te reo, the beats must match, the words much match, as well as the overall feeling of the original compositions."

It seemed as though Ruha did a good job, as each song that went by was followed with an arousing cheer.

In the end, however, it is the language that triumphs. Reo expert Pānia Papa said that as Māori versions of Disney films prove popular for younger generations, it may be time for the company to tell our own unique stories from the Māori world.

"Our hope is that, using these films, our children can grasp the language and hold it close to their hearts."

The Lion King reo Māori film is set to be released on Wednesday.