In 1983 a duo in New Zealand composed of linguist Ngoi Pewhairangi and musician Dalvanius Prime wrote “Poi E” as a way to inspire cultural pride among Māori youth. Prime couldn’t find a record label to release the song so he formed his own label and worked with the Māori performing group, the Patea Maori Club to sing it. In 1984 a TV news story about the song introduced the population to it and it became an instant hit among Māori and non-Māori alike. It even became popular in the UK, where the Patea Maori Club toured to share the vibrant Māori culture.
Not only does “Poi E” reference the Māori tradition of dancing with poi, which are weights on tethers that dancers swing along to the rhythm, the “Poi E” video also introduced a nation of youth from New Zealand a the burgeoning American art — hip hop!