Pokarekare Ana

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"Pokarekare Ana" is a traditional New Zealand love song, probably communally composed about the time World War I began in 1914. The song is written in Māori and has been translated into English. It enjoys widespread popularity in New Zealand as well as some popularity in other countries.


East Coast Māori songwriter Paraire Tomoana, who polished up the song in 1917 and published the words in 1921, wrote that "it emanated from the North of Auckland" and was popularised by Māori soldiers who were training near Auckland before embarking for the war in Europe.[1] There have been numerous claims and counterclaims regarding authorship over the years. Although the matter has never been definitively settled, guardianship of the words and music is held by the family (descendants) of Paraire Tomoana.[citation needed]

The Māori words have remained virtually unaltered over the decades, with only the waters in the first line being localized. For example, some versions refer to Lake Rotorua in the North Island. It is then associated with the story of Hinemoa swimming across the lake to her forbidden lover, Tūtānekai, on Mokoia Island. However, there have been many different English translations.

"Pokarekare Ana" was originally written predominantly in triple time, with the verse in duple time, but has been more commonly heard in duple time since World War II.[1]


Māori[2] English[2]

Pōkarekare ana,
ngā wai o Waiapu
Whiti atu koe hine,
marino ana e.

  E hine e,
  hoki mai ra.
  Ka mate ahau
  I te aroha e.

Tuhituhi taku reta,
tuku atu taku rīngi,
Kia kite tō iwi
raru raru ana e.


Whati whati taku pene
ka pau aku pepa
Ko taku aroha
mau tonu ana e.


E kore te aroha
e maroke i te rā
Mākūkū tonu i
aku roimata e.


They are agitated,
the waters of Waiapu,
But when you cross over girl,
they will be calm.

Oh girl,
return to me,
I could die
of love for you.

I have written my letter,
I have sent my ring,
so that your people can see
that I am troubled.


My poor pen is shattered,
I have no more paper,
But my love
is still steadfast.


My love will never
be dried by the sun,
it will be forever moistened
by my tears.



The song is very popular in New Zealand, and has been adapted for multiple purposes, including in advertising and by sporting groups. Notable uses include:

In popular culture, "Pokarekare Ana" was used as the theme song for the 2005 South Korean film Crying Fist.[citation needed]



Dozens of recording artists throughout the world have performed and recorded the song.

A version of "Pokarekare Ana" by Rhonda appears on the 1981 CBS various artists album The Mauri Hikitia.[5][6]

New Zealand opera singers to record and perform "Pokarekare Ana" are Kiri Te Kanawa and Malvina Major.

"Pokarekare Ana" was featured on the 2003 album Pure, by the New Zealand soprano Hayley Westenra.

A version of the song features on the self-titled album by Angelis, a British classical crossover singing group.

On the CD Classical-Crossover Compilation 2011, Hollie Steel sings "Pokarekare Ana". Steel later released the song as a charity single for those suffering from the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand.[7]


The song was introduced to South Korea by New Zealand soldiers fighting in the Korean War. It was eventually given Korean lyrics and a Korean title, "Yeonga" (Korean: 연가), and has become popular across the country.[8][9]

The melody of "Pokarekare Ana" was used for an Irish hymn to the Blessed Virgin: "A Mhuire Mháthair, sé seo mo ghuí".[2][10]

A homophonous translation into Hebrew was composed in 2007 by Ghil'ad Zuckermann. In this translation the approximate sounds of the Māori words are retained while Hebrew words with similar meanings are used. In this translation, however, "Waiapu" is replaced by "Rotorua" (oto rúakh, Hebrew for "that wind").[11] In 2009 the Israeli composer Rami Bar-Niv wrote a piano piece based on the song, "Pokarekare Variations".


  1. ^ a b Allan Thomas. ""Pokarekare": An Overlooked New Zealand Folksong?". Journal of Folklore Research. Indiana University Press (Vol. 44, No. 2/3 (May – December, 2007)): 227–237. JSTOR 40206952.
  2. ^ a b c "Pokarekare Ana", folksong.org
  3. ^ Dita De Boni (30 June 2000). "Mood music to fit the product". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  4. ^ Ohlheiser, Abby (17 April 2013). "New Zealand Lawmakers Burst Into Song as They Legalize Gay Marriage". Slate. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
  5. ^ National Library of New Zealand The Mauri Hikitia album (sound recording) / various artists.
  6. ^ Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision {New Zealand's Sound & Vision Archive) The Mauri Hikitia album / various artists
  7. ^ "Hollie Releases New Song for Charity", 1 May 2011, holliesteelmusic.com
  8. ^ "Sharing culture through melody and rhythm". Korea.net. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  9. ^ "Yeon-ga". New Zealand Folk Song. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  10. ^ MP3 singing of A Mhuire Mháthair Archived 27 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Po kar hi li tikrá na "'It's cold here', she will tell me", homophonous translation of "Pokarekare Ana" into Hebrew.

External links

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