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by Sam Smith

Tomorrow People: Opening Up

by Sam Smith

Tomorrow People: Opening Up

Taking a break from their #FirstFriday campaign, Wellington reggae act Tomorrow People released an important new song especially for this year’s Anzac Day remembrance. The track called Ōku Rā addresses the issue of PTSD in military personnel, and as band member Tana Tupai explains, it is a very special song for the group. Made with the support of NZ On Air.

“This was a song that we had originally released in English in February. We were fortunate enough to have it translated into Māori by Tawaroa Kawana who has translated four of our songs into Māori.”

Tomorrow People’s embrace of te reo is an important journey the band is undertaking, especially given some of the Māori members did not learn the language.

“We have members who are of mixed race, some are indigenous, and some are on their journey of wanting to discover the language. So to have this opportunity to sing a waiata in Māori was a huge challenge, a bit daunting, but a privilege also to connect closer and play our part into wanting to normalise the language here.”

Ōku Rā focuses on the issue of PTSD in the military and is about a relationship breaking down as a result. This resonated with the group, who are massive advocates for mental health discussion according to Tupai.

“It’s a kaupapa that needs to be talked about more, and we are really glad to be able to portray that through the song. It was more compelling and important for us to want to use our voice to shine a light on such a taboo issue.”

The accompanying music video was directed by Brandon Te Moananui, who worked with Tomorrow People on the video for their 2012 single Take It Away.

“He directed our very first video way back when we started. We were both on similar paths, just starting out, so it was special to come back. He had just been working on a similar documentary with that theme of PTSD, so we were really stoked to work with him and to have the opportunity to be that voice to highlight such an issue.

“We wanted to make sure that when the video was produced and released that we were happy that the message was obvious and something that could resonate with everyone. It was extra special for us to have it released on Anzac Day as well.”

Despite having their #FirstFriday release schedule in full swing, a project where they release a brand new single on the first Friday of every month, Tupai says they would like to explore more social issues in their music.

“We are working on a couple more at the moment which we intend to release. It is one of those things where the music is unknown until we get into that creative process, and the way it worked with this song and the topic and everything, it just happened the way it did.”