Jen Cloher has today released the first single and video ‘Mana Takatāpui’ off their long-awaited new album, ‘I Am The River, The River Is Me’ (via Milk! / Remote Control) which will be out on 3rd March 2023.
Cloher released a note in which they gave some very personal insights into ‘Mana Takatāpui’.
In 2019 I typed the words ‘Māori word for Queer’ into Google. The word ‘takatāpui’ flashed onto my screen with this description: ‘Takatāpui is the Māori word meaning a devoted partner of the same sex. In Western terminology, a person who identifies as takatāpui is a Māori individual who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Takatāpui is used nowadays in response to the Western construction of “sexuality, gender, and corresponding identity expressions.Jen Cloher
The video clip, directed by Annelise Hickey stars some of Cloher’s heroes – those who, according to her, continue to weave the takatāpuitanga (queer Māori culture) by standing tall. It features NZ Parliament Greens MP Dr. Elizabeth Kerekere, dancing on the steps of NZ Parliament. It was Kerekere’s PhD and accompanying whāriki (weaving) ‘Mana Takatāpui’ that inspired the name of the song. Also featured are members of the legendary Pōneke (Wellington) based Tiwhanawhana Kapa Haka who formed 30 years ago as a place for takatāpui to stand proud in the tikanga (cultural practices), the gorgeous Tangaroa Paul, a non-binary model for Infamy Apparel and soon to be Dr. Tangaroa, Jacob Tamata, an exciting new choreographer and passionate advocate of vogue ballroom dancing, The Tiwhas, a Māori drag queen trio who serve takatāpui cabaret goodness wherever they go and Quack Pirihi, a brave, young non-binary activist who champions rangatahi (young people) growing up in a system that was never designed for Māori to succeed.
Watch the video below.
I’m no expert but I’m guessing Māori pre-colonisation didn’t hold the same beliefs around gender and sexuality as Queen Victoria’s England. I’ve read that our men were hands on dedicated fathers and some of our best midwives; that our women fought side by side on the battlefield and that our wāhine atua (female gods) held as much mana (power and respect) as our tāne atua. Christianity came hand in hand with colonisation; Their missionaries introducing the concepts of body shame, sexual repression, a woman’s menstrual cycle as impure, homosexuality as a perversion and gender as binary.Jen Cloher
The new track has a laid-back vibe with Cloher on acoustic guitar complemented by some great horn flourishes that make the song perfect for Pride or just singing in the car.
I hope this becomes the anthem takatāpui can sing at the top of their lungs in the car, cleaning the house, at the club (remixed!) or at the next Pride day. This song is for all of us. The joyful celebration we need and deserve right now.Jen Cloher
Stream / Download ‘Mana Takatāpui’ HERE.
Pre-save / Pre-order ‘I Am The River, The River Is Me’ HERE.
Jen Cloher – ‘I Am The River, The River Is Me’ Tracklist
- Mana Takatāpui
- My Witch
- Being Human
- I Am The River, The River Is Me
- Protest Song
- The Wild
- Aroha Mai, Aroha Atu
- He Toka-Tu-Moana
- I Am Coming Home
Photo Credit: Marcelle Bradbeer