Adrian Waretini was born in Rotorua in 1946, the son of Deane Waretini, a celebrated Māori singer in the 1930s and 1940s. After his father died, Adrian began singing his songs and adopted his Christian name as a music career beckoned. Waretini Junior went on to perform with the Māori show bands in the 1970s. In 1980, he recorded a song written by his cousin (and Te Arawa elder) George Tait. Initially self-released, ’The Bridge’ was picked up by CBS; it became the first number one single to be sung in te reo after it topped the New Zealand chart for two weeks in April 1981.
This heartfelt 1981 hit was the first song sung in te reo to top the NZ singles chart. It was written by Te Arawa elder George Tait for his cousin Deane Waretini, who recorded it with musicians he could only afford to pay in fried chicken. Tait based the melody on Italian Nini Rosso’s 1965 hit ‘Il Silenzio’, but the lyric refers to the linking of Pākehā and Māori cultures at the time of the construction of the Mangere Bridge. The TVNZ video features the less imposing but rather more picturesque valve tower turret, at Wellington’s historic Karori reservoir.