God Defend New Zealand!

(by Nigel Williamson, Billboard, 10/30/99)

THE RUGBY WORLD CUP was hit by a musical controversy when Hinewehi Mohi, of the band Oceania (Billboard, Oct. 2), sang the New Zealand national anthem in Maori before the team's crucial game against England Oct. 9 at Twickenham, London. Jenny Shipley, New Zealand's prime minister, immediately demanded that in the future the anthem, "God Defend New Zealand," which was written by a white settler in 1870, should be sung in English. The rugby authorities also expressed displeasure. Mohi told Global Music Pulse, "I regret offending people, but I don't apologize. I give my best performance when I sing in Maori. It is a real struggle to keep the Maori language alive, and I would do it again." Mohi sings exclusively in Maori on the album "Oceania" (Universal/Point Music), and copies of the record were circulated to the team and the authorities in advance. Maori people make up 13% of New Zealand's population.