polished (up)

Pokarekare Ana

"Pokarekare Ana" is a traditional New Zealand love song, probably communally composed about the time World War I began in 1914.

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.

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 are held by the family (descendants) of Paraire Tomoana.

The Māori words have virtually remained unaltered over the decades, with only the waters in the first line being localized. For example, some versions refer to Rotorua, a town in the North Island. However, there have been many different English translations.

Originally sung in a subtle 3/4 (waltz) time, since World War II it has been heard in a more plodding 4/4 time.


The song is very popular in New Zealand and is sometimes called the country's unofficial national anthem, although it has been adapted to commercial advertising and by sporting groups. Notable examples include:

  • "Sailing Away", which promoted New Zealand's 1987 America's Cup challenge, and featured an ensemble choir of famous New Zealanders recording as 'All Of Us',
  • Air New Zealand's TV advertisements in 2000.

New Zealand soldiers taught it to Korean children during the Korean War, and it is now much sung in South Korea. It was used as the theme song for the 2005 South Korean film Crying Fist.

A schoolyard parody, "O curry curry arna, I found a squashed banana", is well known to New Zealand school-children, and was being sung in Melbourne playgrounds in the mid-1970s.

The tune of "Pokarekare Ana" has been borrowed for an Irish wedding song "A Mhuire Mháthair sé seo mo ghuí".

Recorded versions

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" 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.


Pokarekare ana, nga 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 riingi
Kia kite to iwi, raruraru ana e.
E hine e, hoki mai ra, ka mate ahau i te aroha e.
Whatiwhati 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.
E kore te aroha, e maroke i te ra
Makuku tonu i aku roimata e.
E hine e, hoki mai ra, ka mate ahau i te aroha e.


Translation of the first part from the CD-cover of Hayley Westenra´s CD "Pure":

Stormy are the waters

Of restless Waiapu

If you cross them, girl They will be calmed

Oh girl

Come back to me

I could die

Of love for you

I write you my letter

I send you my ring

So your people can see

How troubled I am

Oh girl

Come back to me

I could die

Of love for you

Oh girl

Come back to me

I could die

Of love for you

A homophonous translation into Israeli Hebrew was composed in 2007 by Ghil'ad Zuckermann. In this translation the approximate sounds of the Maori 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").


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