Melbourne-based artist Jen Cloher has announced their fifth full-length album with single "Mana Takatāpui." I Am The River, The River Is Me is due out on March 3 via Jen's imprint Milk! Records and Remote Control (pre-order). "Mana Takatāpui" is the album's opening track, setting a celebratory tone and thoroughly embracing the fully-liberated expression of gender and sexuality in Māori culture--the title roughly translates to "queer power" in Māori. On writing the song, Jen says:

I’m no expert but I’m guessing Māori pre-colonisation didn’t hold the same beliefs around gender and sexuality as Queen Victoria’s England.

I’ve read that our men were hands on dedicated fathers and some of our best midwives; that our women fought side by side on the battlefield and that our wāhine atua (female gods) held as much mana (power and respect) as our tāne atua. Christianity came hand in hand with colonisation; Their missionaries introducing the concepts of body shame, sexual repression, a woman’s menstrual cycle as impure, homosexuality as a perversion and gender as binary.

Even though I have spent most of my life away from my land – making this album and clip has been a true homecoming. It is on my matrilineal moana (ocean) Whangaroa Harbour in Te Tai Tokerau (Northland NZ) that you can see me sailing along and singing while playing my Aunty Maera’s guitar.

I hope ["Mana Takatāpui"] becomes the anthem takatāpui can sing at the top of their lungs in the car, cleaning the house, at the club (remixed!) or at the next Pride day. This song is for all of us. The joyful celebration we need and deserve right now.

"Mana Takatāpui" comes with a music video featuring a full cast of queer Māori people including drag queen trio The Tiwhas, nonbinary activist Quack Pirihi, and “members of the legendary Pōneke (Wellington)-based Tiwhanawhana Kapa Haka, who formed 30 years ago as a place for takatāpui to stand proud in our tikanga (cultural practices).” Check out the video, album art, and track list for I Am The River, The River Is Me below.

Jen Cloher I Am The River The River Is Me
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Tracklisting
1. ‘Mana Takatāpui’
2. ‘Harakeke’
3. ‘My Witch’
4. ‘Being Human’
5. ‘I Am The River, The River Is Me’
6. ‘Protest Song’
7. ‘The Wild’
8. ‘Aroha Mai, Aroha Atu’
9. ‘He Toka-Tu-Moana’
10. ‘I Am Coming Home’

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