Immersion and metal music videos

Aspects of Maori culture in ‘Kai Tangata’ and ‘Hatupatu’


  • Elise Girard-Despraulex Laval University



narration, music video, heavy metal, Maori Popular music, cinema, Maori and Polynesian music culture


Music videos are designed, filmed and edited to magnify the musical experience, and, when well-used, contribute to making artists stand out. With the evolution of media and technology, ‘localness’ can be broadcast worldwide, and folklore, culture and traditions are at the heart of many metal groups’ preoccupations. By making their culture a central part of their music, Alien Weaponry’s success has resulted in the Maori culture, history and legends achieving international recognition in the metal music world. ‘Kai Tangata’ and ‘Hatupatu’, the music videos directed by Alex Hargreaves, operate to further represent elements of Maori culture, by adding a visual dimension to Alien Weaponry’s use of te reo Maori, the Maori language. Using formal and comparative aesthetical analyses, reinforced by a theoretical approach, the use of immersion in this representation will be discussed. Firstly, the representation of the characters in the videos and their role in the narration will be analysed. Secondly, the affect and the dynamism brought by the rhythm and the structure of music and images will be examined. And finally, the representation of bodies, gestures and rituality will be analysed, as a representation of the Maori culture, meant for both Maori and non-Maori people.

Author Biography

Elise Girard-Despraulex, Laval University

Elise Girard-Despraulex is a PhD student in musicology at Laval University (Canada) and in cinema and visual arts at the University of Lille (France). Her dissertation focuses on the creation of a coherent identity through multiple mediums, and concentrates on bands influenced by folklore and religions in their aesthetic.


Arsenault, Dominic, and Martin Picard. 2008. ‘Le jeu vidéo entre dépendance et plaisir immersif : les trois formes d’immersion vidéoludique’. Online at,-picard---le-jeu-video-entre-dependance-et-plaisir-immersif_0.pdf (accessed 10 March 2022).

Arvitson, Mats, Mikael Askander, Lea Wierød Borcak, Signe Kjaer Jensen and Nafiseh Mousavi. 2021. ‘Intermedial Combinations’. In Intermedial Studies: An Introduction to Meaning Across Media, ed. Jørgen Bruhn and Beate Schirrmacher, 106–37. Abingdon: Routledge. DOI:

Bona, Michelle. 2021. ‘Vulgar Discourses of Power: The Discursive Construction of Ideal Heavy Metal Subjectivity and the Erasure of Black, Indigenous, and Women of Colour in Heavy Metal Music Culture’. MA thesis, Saint Mary’s University. Online at

Bowar, Chad. 2017. ‘What is Thrash Metal?’. Liveaboutdotcom. Online at (accessed 25 November 2021).

Buckland, Peter D. 2016. ‘When All is Lost: Thrash Metal, Dystopia, and Ecopedagogy’. International Journal of Ethics Education 1/2: 145–54. DOI:

Carroll, Noël. 2008. The Philosophy of Motion Pictures. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Chion, Michel. 1998. Le son. Paris: Nathan université.

Cowan, James. 1925. Fairy Folk Tales of the Maori. Auckland: Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd. Online at (accessed 10 December 2021).

DiVita, Joe. 2018. ‘Alien Weaponry Engage in Tribal Battle in “Kai Tangata” Video’. Loudwire. Online at (accessed 10 December 2021).

D’Souza, Shaad. 2018. ‘Meet the Teen Metalheads Saving the Maori Language through Thrash’. VICE. Online at (accessed 15 October 2021).

Fanshawe, Melissa, Lindy-Anne Abawi and Jillian Guy. 2019. ‘The Importance of Indigenous Cultural Perspectives in Education (The Danger of the Single Story)’. In Opening Eyes onto Inclusion and Diversity, ed. Susan Carter. Toowoomba: University of Southern Queensland. Online at

Firth, Raymond. 1959. Economics of the New Zealand Maori. Wellington: Government Printer. 2nd edn [1929].

Friskie, Seren M. 2020. ‘The Healing Power of Storytelling: Finding Identity through Narrative’. The Arbutus Review (Special Issue on Indigenous Wellness) 11/1: 19–27. DOI:

Goodman, Eleanor. 2021. ‘Alien Weaponry: The New Zealand Metal Heroes Bringing Maori Culture to the Masses’. LouderSound. Online at (accessed 23 April 2021).

Goossens, Didier. 2019. ‘“Maori metal”: Analysing Decolonial Glocalisation in the Themes, Performances and Discourses Surrounding Alien Weaponry’s Debut Album Tu (2018)’. MA thesis, KU Leuven. Online at

Gow, Joe. 1994. ‘Mood and Meaning in Music Video: The Dynamics of Audiovisual Synergy’. Southern Journal of Communication 59/3: 255–61. DOI:

Grau, Oliver. 2003. Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. DOI:

Holt, Fabian. 2011. ‘Is Music Becoming More Visual? Online Video Content in the Music Industry’. Visual Studies 26/1: 50–61. DOI:

Lucas, Olivia R. 2021. ‘Kaitiakitanga, Whai Wahi and Alien Weaponry: Indigenous Frameworks for Understanding Language, Identity and International Success in the Case of a Maori Metal Band’. Popular Music 40/2: 263–80. DOI:

Mackley-Crump, Jared. 2012. ‘The Festivalisation of Pacific Cultures in New Zealand: Diasporic Flow and Identity within “a Sea of Islands”’. Doctoral dissertation, University of Otago. Online at

Mahuika, Nepia. 2019. ‘A Brief History of Whakapapa: Maori Approaches to Genealogy’. Genealogy 3/32: 1–14. DOI:

Martin, Marcel. 1955. Le langage cinématographique. Paris: Éditions du Cerf.

Matthews, Nathan. 2004. ‘The Physicality of Maori Message Transmission—Ko te tinana, he waka tuku korero’. Junctures 3: 9–18.

McLean, Mervyn. 1996. Maori Music. Auckland: Auckland University Press.

Mika, Jason Paul, Kiri Dell, Jamie Newth and Carla Houkamau. 2022. ‘Manahau: Toward an Indigenous Maori Theory of Value’. Philosophy of Management. DOI:

Mills, Matt. 2021. ‘“Racism is rampant”: Alien Weaponry, the Metal Band Standing up for Maori Culture’. The Guardian. Online at (accessed 10 December 2021).

Müller, Jurgen E. 2000. ‘L’intermédialité, une nouvelle approche interdisciplinaire : perspectives théoriques et pratiques à l’exemple de la vision de la télévision’. Cinéma et intermédialité 10/2–3: 105–34. DOI:

Nunns, Richard, and Allan Thomas. 2014. Te Ara Puoro: A Journey into the World of Maori Music. Nelson: Craig Potton Publishing.

Oliva, Rodrigo, José Bidarra and Denize Araújo. 2017. ‘Video and Storytelling in a Digital World: Interactions and Narratives in Videoclips’. Comunicação e Sociedade 32: 459–76. DOI:

Orbell, Margaret. 1985. ‘The Maori Tradition’. In The Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse, ed. Ian Wedde, Harvey McQueen and Margaret Rose Orbell, 53–61. Auckland: Penguin Books.

O’Regan, Sylvia Varnham. 2017. ‘Can a Thrash Metal Band Help Save the Maori Language?’. The Atlantic. Online at (accessed 15 October 2021).

Panday, Aruna. 2010. ‘From Kapahaka to Hip Hop: Maori Popular Music in Aotearoa/New Zealand’. MA thesis, Carleton University. Online at

Pullar, Gordon L. 1992. ‘Ethnic Identity, Cultural Pride, and Generations of Baggage: A Personal Experience’. Maritime Cultures of Southern Alaska 29/2: 182–91.

Rameka, Lesley. 2018. ‘A Maori Perspective of Being and Belonging’. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood 19/4: 367–78. DOI:

Rangihau, John. 2008. ‘Maori Culture Today’. Te Komako 20/4: 3–12. DOI:

Reeder. 2021. ‘Alien Weaponry Reveals Charging New Single and Video “Hatupatu”’. Metal Addicts. Online at (accessed 11 December 2021).

Regev, Motti. 2013. Pop-Rock Music: Aesthetic Cosmopolitanism in Late Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Reyes-Kulkarni, Saby. 2021. ‘Alien Weaponry: Maori Tradition Meets Thrash Metal’. Bandcamp. Online at (accessed 23 May 2022).

Rotorua Museum. n.d. ‘Hatupatu and Kurangaituku the Bird Woman’. Online at (accessed 15 October 2021).

Sium, Aman, and Eric Ritskes. 2013. ‘Speaking Truth to Power: Indigenous Storytelling as an Act of Living Resistance’. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 2/1: 1–10.

Stastny, Angelique, and Raymond Orr. 2014. ‘The Influence of the US Black Panthers on Indigenous Activism in Australia and New Zealand from 1969 onwards’. Australian Aboriginal Studies 2: 60–74.

Sweetman, Lauren E., and Kirsten Zemke. 2019. ‘Claiming Ka Mate: Maori Cultural Property and the Nation’s Stake’. In The Oxford Handbook of Musical Repatriation, ed. Frank Gunderson, Robert C. Lancefield and Bret Woods, 1–26. Oxford: Oxford University Press. DOI:

Tapsell, Paora. 2017. ‘Hatupatu and Kurangaituku’. In Te Ara: the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Online at (accessed 15 October 2021).

Te Aka Maori Dictionary. n.d. Online at (accessed 2 February 2022).

Te Arawa Stories. n.d. ‘Hatupatu and Kurangaituku’. Te Arawa Stories—Digital Storehouse. Online at (accessed 10 January 2021).

Te Papa Museum. n.d. Museum of New Zealand—Te Papa Tongarewa. Online at (accessed 15 October 2021).

Travers, Paul. 2021. ‘Alien Weaponry are Bringing Maori Mythology to the Masses’. Kerrang. Online at (accessed 10 December 2021).

van Meijl, Toon. 1996. ‘Historicising Maoritanga Colonial Ethnography and the Reification of Maori Traditions’. Journal of the Polynesian Society 105/3: 311–46.

Vernallis, Carol. 2004. Experiencing Music Videos. New York: Columbia University Press.

Walser, Robert. 1993. Running with the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England.

Wiremu, Robert. 2022. Personal communication, 6 March 2022.



How to Cite

Girard-Despraulex, E. (2023). Immersion and metal music videos: Aspects of Maori culture in ‘Kai Tangata’ and ‘Hatupatu’. Perfect Beat, 22(1), 43–63.