Ria Hall uses history for inspiration on “Te Ahi Kai Pō”

June 21st marked the 154th anniversary of New Zealand’s Battle of Te Ranga. The Battle saw an unexpected slaughter of many of the local Māori by the invading British, just two months after their success at the Battle of Pukehinahina. To honor the resilience of her people in the wake of this historical event, Māori singer/songwriter Ria Hall debuted the official music video for “Te Ahi Kai Pō” via The Spinoff last week, ahead of the anniversary and her four city tour in the Land Down Under.

“I’ve used this battle as a metaphor for the composition, contemplating on how to find solace and peace after the onslaught and dispossession. This song is applicable to anyone through any phase of their lives where times are challenging, and encourages an introspective look to find the fire burning within. It is a constant reminder that no matter how tough it gets, there is always a way to achieve resolution and peace within.” – Ria Hall

Directed by Shae Sterling, the stunning visual was shot on location at Auckland’s Ihumātao, also known as the Otuataua Stonefields Historical Reserve. It’s a location which has been occupied by local Māori since the 11th Century. While 100 hectares of this land is currently protected, it has been a hard, ongoing fight for conservationists to save the land from a growing urban sprawl.

“I wanted to symbolize the aftermath of war, the loss of life, and loss of culture with this video. We used infrared to help take the audience to a surreal place, like a vacant memory, a place of purgatory.” – Shae Sterling

“Te Ahi Kai Pō” means “the fire burning away the darkness.

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