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E Pari Rā (vocal version)

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The composer of “E Pari Rā” was Paraire Tomoana, a Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Te Whatuiāpiti leader, who was born in Hastings in 1868. During the First World War, Paraire helped form a Maori concert party to entertain and raise money for the Maori Soldiers’ Fund. One of the songs performed at this time was Paraire’s “E Pari Rā”. The tune was adapted from The Blue Eyes Waltz. This became a popular song for farewelling troopships leaving for war.
Paraire intended this song as a waiata aroha, depicting the love of a mother for her son who was away at war. The image is of the surging tide. As the waves come ashore, they bring the love of a son to his mother. As they go out, they carry the mother’s love back to her son.

This waiata would be appropriate to sing at a tangi or at an occasion to honour the dead, for example, at an Anzac Day service, although today it is often sung to celebrate happy occasions and to remind us of the link between past and present.


The tides surge onto the seashore
(And) my heart throbs
Alas! Bring back (your) love to me
(And to) the people
Weeping in our hearts.

So come back ... return
My beloved ... my love
I am weeping here
for you now far away
Farewell ... and remember
Beloved ... be true to me
Farewell! I will be true to you

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