Into the Great Moana of Kanaloa: Tiki Taane’s “Tangaroa”
I’ve been hooked to Māori spin doctor Tiki Taane since I first caught a glimpse of his mindblowing video clip “Tangaroa”, off his debut album album Past, Present, Future. For those unfamiliar with Polynesian mythology, Tangaroa is the Māori god of the sea, corresponding to the Hawaiian akua Kanaloa. The track is a shock to the system, combing traditional Māori chant with a raging dancehall-style beat.
Tiki composed “Tangaroa” in response to the 2004 tsunami and humanity’s lack respect for Tangaroa and his ocean realm. In their first collaboration as father son, Uekaha Taane Tinorau, Tiki’s father, composed the following haka, or chant, for Tangaroa, channeling the spirit of Tangaroa as a force for change. (You can read Tiki and Uekaha’s full commentary on “Tangaroa” here on the Tikidub Productions website.)
Ko Papatuanuku me Ranginui nga matua o te ao
I puta mai nga tamariki nga Atua o te ao
He Atua o te moana
Ko Tangaroa he Atua o te moana
Tu mai te ihi
Tu mai te wehiwehi
Tu mai te wanawana e
Hi ha aue
From the divine heartbeat of Mother Earth and the ever-elusive constant of Sky Father
all descend and all ascend the natural world
The timeless current of tranquil stillness
the harmonic music of ones infinite ocean
Resilient are the vital influences of the universe
Stand liberated by the inner radiance
Be still be silent and all shall be revealed
Na Uekaha nga kupu Maori, na Tamiaho te whakapakehatia
As someone who’s felt a close kinship to the moana, or the ocean, and to Kanaloa, I felt something deep and familiar when I saw “Tangaroa” for the first time. When it seemed so few remembered to honor our god of the sea, here was an homage to the God of the Sea appropriate for our time but based on the past, modern yet grounded in antiquity. In the video, Tiki looks out in the ocean only to see an ancestor appear to him on the shore. How times have I sat facing the sea or going into waves and felt something great, vast, and powerful, beyond the limits of my rational, Western education, knowing that generations past were with me in the waters.
I know that Kanaloa, our manifestation of the ocean deity in Hawai‘i, is alive. I’m always reminded of him when I see the expanse of blue ocean, hear the roar of the surf, or see his kinolau, or body form, such as the mai‘a (banana), the he‘e (squid or octopus), the koholā (whale) and other forms of ocean life.
FOR MORE INORMATION ON KANALOA/TANGAROA
Learn more about Kanaloa/Tangaroa on Blue Coast’s Kanaloa page or in Martha Beckwiths’s Hawaiian Mythology. For more on Tangaroa, Te Ara Encylopedia of New Zealand has developed a beautiful web page, Tangaroa – The Sea.
FOR MORE ON TIKI TAANE
“Tangaroa” was the first single off of Tiki’s debut Past, Present, Future, which you can purchase at the Tikidub shop as a digital download or CD, shipped directly from Aotearoa/New Zealand to you.