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 song-writer 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.

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 Rotorua, a lake 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[3][4]

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.

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

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

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

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

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

The waves are breaking, against the shores of Waiapu,
My heart is aching, for your return my love.

Oh my beloved girl, come back to me
I could die of love for you.

I have written you a letter, and enclosed with it my ring,
So your people could see it how much I'm troubled for you.

Oh my beloved girl, come back to me
I could die of love for you.

The sun's hot sheen, won't scorch my love,
Being kept evergreen, by the falling of my tears.

Oh my beloved girl, Come back to me
I could die of love for you.

My poor pen is broken, my paper is spent,
But my love for you endures, and remains forever more.

Oh my beloved girl, come back to me
I could die of love for you.


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.[7]



Dozens of recording artists throughout the world have performed and recorded the song. Internationally known New Zealand opera singers to previously record and perform "Pokarekare Ana" are Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Dame Malvina Major.

Late in 2003 "Pokarekare Ana" was featured on the album Pure, released worldwide by the young New Zealand soprano Hayley Westenra. Pure is the fastest selling debut album ever on the UK classical charts. Her rendition of "Pokarekare Ana" also prominently appears in the video game Endless Ocean.

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

One of the more well-known versions of the song was when it was sung by New Zealand artist Prince Tui Teka.

The most internationally exposed recorded version of the song was performed by Rose Hanify. This version was used in Air New Zealand advertisements worldwide during 2000. Most notably, this recording became featured throughout the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, both publicly, and through heavy media coverage.

A version of the song sung by Scottish comedian Billy Connolly is used as the theme to his 2004 Tour of New Zealand and features on both the DVD and CD.

The group Splashdown, discontinued, also did a version of this song, titled "Running with Scissors".

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 an earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand.[8]


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.[9][10]

Ron Goodwin used it in his orchestral piece, "Earnslaw Steam Theme", which began with percussion evoking the steam ferry Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu.

In April 2009 the Israeli composer Rami Bar-Niv wrote a piano piece based on the song – "Pokarekare Variations". He wrote it based on a suggestion of a friend from Rotorua, and as a new piece to mark his fifth concert tour of New Zealand in September 2009.

The melody of "Pokarekare Ana" was used for an Irish hymn to the Blessed Virgin: "A Mhuire Mháthair, sé seo mo ghuí".[11][12]

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").[13]


  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. ^ "Pokarekare Ana", folksong.org
  3. ^ Armstrong, A. Haere Mai (1985) Viking Sevenseas Ltd ISBN 0-85467-087-4
  4. ^ Pokarekare Ana sung by Hayley Westenra on YouTube
  5. ^ Dita De Boni (4 May 2000). "Mood music to fit the product". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  6. ^ Ohlheiser, Abby (17 April 2013). "New Zealand Lawmakers Burst Into Song as They Legalize Gay Marriage". Slate. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  7. ^ Crying Fist (2005) Movie Review | BeyondHollywood.com | Asian, Foreign, Horror, and Genre Movie Reviews and News
  8. ^ http://www.holliesteelmusic.com/hollie-releases-new-song-for-charity/
  9. ^ "Sharing culture through melody and rhythm". Korea.net. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "Yeon-ga". New Zealand Folk Song. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  11. ^ New Zealand Folk Song
  12. ^ MP3 singing of A Mhuire Mháthair
  13. ^ Po kar hi li tikrá na "'It's cold here', she will tell me", homophonous translation of "Pokarekare Ana" into Hebrew.

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