Meet the Teens Saving Māori Language with Heavy Metal

Check out VICE NZ's documentary on the headbanging teen advocates for Te Reo Māori.
July 4, 2018, 2:00am

This article originally appeared on VICE NZ.

Making heavy metal inspired by ancient Māori battles has made teenage trio Alien Weaponry unlikely heroes in the fight to preserve New Zealand’s indigenous language.

VICE first spoke to Alien Weaponry when the then 14- and 16-year-olds had clear plans for world domination. Fast-forward a couple of years and the Waipu locals are well on the way with their songs of historical revenge and scathing social commentary. Signed to Austrian label Napalm records, their first album debuted at the top of the New Zealand music charts, and this European summer they play Wacken Open Air, the biggest metal festival in the world.

In this documentary, Alien Weaponry: Thrash Metal and Te Reo Māori, VICE NZ goes behind the scenes to embed with the de Jong brothers Henry (drums) and Lewis (guitars and vocals)—and their "honourable brother", friend Ethan Trembath (bass). We road trip to Otaramare on the shores of Lake Rotoiti where the brothers reconnect with their iwi Ngāti Pikiao and Ngāti Ruakawa. At home, at school, at work, and on stage, we get a glimpse of the workings of a band on the rise, and their dedication to the resurgence of Te Reo Māori as it struggles for survival.

"We as Alien Weaponry want to get Māori out there to the world, in order to inspire New Zealanders to actually fight to keep the language," says Henry.

This is the latest episode in our Zealandia series made with the help of NZ on Air. You can watch more from the series here.