27 Sep 2017

Alien Weaponry: A history lesson with added headbanging

4:14 pm on 27 September 2017

A thrash-metal band of headbangers from Northland's Waipu are using their haka and te reo skills to teach a history lesson from the stage.

Alien Weaponry

Alien Weaponry Photo: Supplied

The band Alien Weaponry is reaching hundreds of thousands of fans with their hit song Rū ana te Whenua which has surpassed a million views on Facebook and YouTube.

The band is composed of teenaged brothers Henry and Lewis de Jong, along with their friend Ethan Trenbath.

Henry, the band's drummer, said metal was the perfect way to address indigenous issues.

"Metal is always super-political with its lyrics and there are a lot of Māori that are into metal, and it's kind of weird for us to be the first ones to do it."

Alien Weaponry

Alien Weaponry Photo: Supplied

Both the de Jong brothers attended Kura Kaupapa as younger children and have incorporated their haka skills into their performances.

"It feels like you're doing a haka, honestly. It's that same riled up feeling you get when you're going absolutely crazy doing it," said Henry.

Rū ana te Whenua is a song about the New Zealand land wars the late 1800s.

The de Jong boys are direct descendants of Te Ahoaho - a warrior who died in the battle at Pukehinahina, Gate Pā - and the song is a story passed down to them by their father about their ancestors' plight defending their lands against British troops.

"You know, it's really valuable to Māori here in New Zealand," said Henry. "Because a lot of kids I know at school and that their parents don't really know a lot about whakapapa or their history, so it's really good to learn that from the old man."

The 'old man' is the de Jong boys' father Niel de Jong, who is also the band's manager.

He said he was super proud his Māori history was incorporated in their work.

"When we drive south we drive past Rangiriri and it looks like nothing because there are a couple of lumps on the hill, but when you relate it to the story of Rangiriri and those lumps on the hill are actually the remains of the fortification and you can see the river on this side, the swamp on that side and that's why they chose this place to put the Pā.

"Then the kids are interested and all of a sudden it has meaning."

The Māori thrash metallers have been signed to a Berlin label Das Machine, but will call New Zealand home for a bit longer yet.

The de Jong brothers are from Ngāti Pikiao, and Te Arawa is their iwi. While they're proud to showcase te reo Māori, they said the whole country's history needed to be shared.

"If its something that's happened in this country, its like why should we not be learning about it?

"In the US there are whole subjects dedicated to learning about American history, we need to have that here because it's a huge part of what makes New Zealand unique."

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