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New Zealand singer Lorde releases 5 songs in Māori language

"I’d never had any writing or recording experience like it," Lorde said in an interview announcing the release. "It was really powerful."
Lorde Performs At \"Good Morning America's\" Summer Concert Series
Lorde performs in New York's Central Park on Aug. 20.Arturo Holmes / Getty Images

New Zealand singer and songwriter Lorde has released a mini album of songs recorded in Māori language, calling it a “really powerful” experience.

The release comes amid the nation’s reckoning with the historical repression of Māori language and culture.

Lorde, 24, re-recorded five songs from her new album, “Solar Power,” which made its debut last month, entirely in te reo Māori, the indigenous language of New Zealand.

The album is titled "Te Ao Mārama," which translates to “World of Light,” and focuses on the natural world.

In an interview with pop culture magazine The Spinoff, the singer said the project involved consulting with Māori elders and working with “a powerhouse team of language experts,” translators and pronunciation coaches to record the album, as she is not fluent in Māori.

Waitangi Day celebrated in New Zealand
The Māori account for about 16 percent of New Zealand’s population of 4.9 million.Fiona Goodall / Getty Images file

“It felt really big when we were doing it,” she told the magazine. “It was heavy. It was really emotional. I’d never had any writing or recording experience like it. It was really powerful.”

Lorde, who has a huge global audience and is followed by nearly 8 million people on Instagram, said she was also prepared to face criticism and accepted that accusations of “white saviorism” were likely.

“I’m white — however you want to interpret me wanting to engage with our Indigenous culture, that’s fair enough,” she told The Spinoff.

The Māori, who account for about 16 percent of New Zealand’s population of 4.9 million, lost much of their land through hundreds of years of colonization. Government policies have also eroded cultural rights, with Māori children historically being barred from speaking their language in schools.

Without their ancestral lands, with which people are spiritually connected in the Māori world, and with the erosion of many cultural rights, the Māori are still disproportionately affected by a raft of social problems from imprisonment to homelessness.

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Lorde's tracks in Māori are now available on the singer’s YouTube channel and have both Māori and English subtitles.

"This makes me want to cry," one of the comments below her "Solar Power" track in Māori said. "Lorde is so true to her land and the people of it. She really understands life, and this inspires me so much, as a maori."

In a separate newsletter sent to her fans Thursday, Lorde said her main realization from making the album was that much of her value system around caring for and listening to the natural world was based in traditional Māori principles.

“I know I’m someone who represents New Zealand globally in a way, and in making an album about where I’m from, it was important to me to be able to say: this makes us who we are down here,” she said.“It’s also just a crazy beautiful language — I loved singing in it.”

All the proceeds from the Māori album will go to charity, the singer said.