Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Go to Te Ao Hou homepage
No. 16 (October 1956)
– 49 –

MAORI OPERA

The highlight of those concerts occurred when it was decided to incorporate the various items into a Maori opera. Mr J. Kohu of the Judea group did this integration of items and an opera, Te Iwi Maori, was produced in the open-air at the Tauranga Sound-shell. Unfortunately weather conditions were bad, but there was a large audience nevertheless. It was the story, simply, yet proudly done in song and action, of the Maori race from their home in Hawaiki to Aotearoa of today. It concluded with the award to Maharaia Winiata, whose home town is Tauranga, of his Doctorate in Philosophy.

The All-Maori Day which concluded each season's activities, and at which the cultural championships were held, was something unique, lasting from eleven in the morning until midnight. To keep entertainment going for that length of time was no mean feat, but its very difficulty determed the spirit of all that it should be done. And it was done! The outstanding features of that day were the championships for which nearly all groups entered, and a Maori beauty contest.

Comprising the championships were six classes: Waiata Maori (with and without action), patere Maori, himene Maori, combined poi, and haka. In addition there were competitions in stick-games, hand-games, whiu, and various forms of the poi. The karanga and powhiri ceremony was also performed to welcome the local Mayor (Mr L. R. Wilkinson) and the local Member of Parliament (Mr G. A. Walsh). That the final night was marred by torrential rain, putting the park under water, was unfortunate. Nevertheless about a thousand people braved the weather to participate in an outstanding entertainment which concluded with a colourful Hawaiian crowning ceremony.

The Maori beauty contest was something quite different from accepted beauty contests. The girls and young ladies appeared, not in bathing costumes, but in ceremonial Maori dress. Treasured articles of Maori clothing and personal adornment which had not seen the light of day since yesteryear were proudly paraded with the poise and dignity of the kui. The winner, besides annexing a monetary prize, was invested with a sash inscribed: Te Tamahine o te Iwi; Tauranga, 1956.

As has been said the financial result has been very satisfactory and shortly the Maori people of Tauranga will have a building which will cater not only for their material wants but which will act as a rallying point for their cultural needs. Other values also have stemmed from these activities. They have learned the value of united action; by the inclusion of pakeha members in their committee both races have exemplified racial co-operation. This goes also in regard to the audiences; pakehas have shown their appreci-

(continued page 50, column 2)