The Kiwi singer has rerecorded five songs off “Solar Power,”
including the title track and the single “Stoned at the Nail Salon,” in te reo Māori, the language of Indigenous New Zealand (or, as the country is known in te reo Māori, Aotearoa).
In an interview with New Zealand pop culture outlet the Spinoff
, Lorde said she realized that her album’s emphasis on “the spiritual power of the natural world” was synonymous with the Māori idea of “kaitiakitanga,” the idea of guarding over and stewarding the land.
The new EP, titled “Te Ao Mārama,”
which means “world of light,” was overseen by a team of te reo Māori experts including singer Hinewehi Mohi and the academic Tīmoti Kāretu, who helped Lorde translate her songs.
The translations aren’t exact, nor were they meant to be. Lorde, whose real name is Ella Yelich-O’Connor, told the Spinoff she explained the meanings of her lyrics line by line to her translators, who’d then “take the translations to a more metaphorical place” than an exact translation would.
Lorde, who is White, said she’d expected some criticism for her new EP and acknowledged that is “is really complicated” for her to sing songs in te reo Māori, a language she isn’t fluent in, when many Indigenous New Zealanders are unfamiliar with the language after decades of oppression of the Māori people
and te reo Māori.
“I am a little bit out of my depth, and I’m the first to admit that, and I’m opening myself up to any response to this,” she told the Spinoff. “What would have been worse is to just have been too scared to do it … That to me is sadder and scarier than being attributed any kind of White savior complex.”
There are five songs total on the EP, whose cover is a recolored work from the late Māori artist Rei Hamon. Proceeds from the album will go to two New Zealand charities: Forest and Bird, a conservation organization, and Te Hua Kawariki Charitable Trust, which helps operate an attraction meant to educate New Zealanders on Māori history.