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Thursday 10 March 2022 3:42pm

A new waiata has been released to encourage all our whānau to get vaccinated, written by a University of Otago, Christchurch, haematologist and senior lecturer – strumming a very special ukulele.

Dr Seán MacPherson, a clinical researcher in UOC's Department of Pathology, was approached by a colleague to compose a song encouraging families to get vaccinated to protect themselves against COVID‑19.

“Songs are a great way to share messages, and we have a great message here. We can all protect each other, our whānau, and tamariki if we get vaccinated,” says Dr MacPherson.

Just released, Dr MacPherson collaborated with educator Morehu Solomon (Te Arawa, Ngati Kahungunu, Ngati Porou), The New Zealand Army Band, and the Burnham Primary School kapa haka group to get the waiata recorded, with backing from the Canterbury District Health Board where he also works as a consultant haematologist.

It's far from Dr Macpherson's “first rodeo” when it comes to composing and performing.

Well-known at UOC as the “singing lecturer”, her often writes and performs songs to help medical students remember the content of his lectures – accompanying himself on the ukulele “Billy Connolly-style”.

Dr MacPherson says he used a very special ukulele to record this waiata – an instrument handmade and gifted to him by University of Otago Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Murdoch. The two share a love of music and Professor Murdoch has added skills as a luthier.

Dr MacPherson says he was “over the moon” when Professor Murdoch custom-made him his ukulele in 2018.

“It's a gorgeous instrument, with a koa body as per the Hawaiian tradition, a beautiful pāua inlay and an unusual cravoila shape”, says Dr MacPherson. My ukulele has featured in many public performances, mainly for medical education, but this is the first time it's been used for a professional recording.”

University of Otago alumnus and Kaihapai Toi (Māori and Pacific Producer) at Christchurch's Court Theatre, Morehu Solomon, says the waiata carries message for all whānau in Aotearoa.

E te iwi e whakarongo mai. Kia kaha, kia toa, kia manawanui,” says Mr Solomon. “I'm asking everyone to listen, be strong, be firm and be big of heart. We have had it 'up to here' with this virus. We need to get vaccinated against COVID‑19 to protect those we love.”

Major Graham Hickman, Director of Music at the New Zealand Army Band, says he's pleased they could play their part sharing the vaccination message in a creative way.

“We want to see New Zealand come out of the pandemic stronger than ever knowing we worked hard to protect each other,” says Major Hickman.

Dr MacPherson, who's been a pianist since age 5 and also plays the trombone, guitar and mandolin, is calling on Kiwis to consider their whole family, their colleagues, friends and the wider community.

“I think we all want to do the right thing. Vaccinating against COVID‑19 will help minimise the impacts of COVID‑19 and reduce hospitalisation so we can continue caring for the people who truly need it the most.”


Facebook video: Tamariki Against Mate Korona – New Zealand Army Band

For more information, contact:

Lorelei Mason
Communications Advisor
University of Otago, Christchurch
Tel +64 21 279 2203

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