Did you know that the waiata you’ve been singing at parties is a wartime song and is not even titled Hoki Mai? It’s actually called Tomo Mai e Tama Mā.
Hēnare Waitoa composed the song in Ruatōria in 1946 to welcome home veterans of the 28th Māori Battalion. Sir Apirana Ngata, who had been an active advocate of recruitment among Ngāti Porou , had asked for a new song specifically for Colonel Peter Awatere and C Company, who had been away from home for nearly six years.
Tomo Mai e Tama Mā was hastily composed and arranged by Hēnare the night before it was first performed. It was then taught to Ngāti Putaanga Kapa Haka only two hours before they went on stage at Ruatōria.
Later, a more upbeat version surfaced in Rotorua in the early 1960’s, and was made popular by the Howard Morrison Quartet. It's this version that has survived to this day- but it wouldn't have been possible had it not been for the 28th Māori Battalion.
Tomo Mai e Tama Mā
Tomo mai e tama mā ki roto, ki roto
I ngā ringa e tuwhera atu nei,
Ki ngā mōrehu o te Kiwi e,
Ki ngā Tama Toa o tēnei riri nui.
Hoki mai, hoki mai ki te wā kāinga,
Kua tūtuki te tūmanako
Kei te kapakapa mai te haki te haki
O Ingarangi i runga Tiamana e
Hoki ruarua mai e Tama mā
Ki ngā iwi e tatari atu nei
Kua mahue atu rā ngā tini hoa
Ki runga whenua iwi kē
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