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No. 19 (August 1957)
– 56 –

A New Maori Recording

Aotearoa Maori Concert Party L.P. recording P.M.D.M. 6001, 78 r.p.m. recordings Nos. N.Z.P. 5004, 5005 and 5006, all on Parlophone.

These recordings of the Aotearoa Maori concert party contain some very fine action singing, but in part, the L.P. recording does not do full justice to the performers. The vitality and precision of Maori singing is heard at its best in “Karu”, “Haere ra e hine”, “He aha kei taku uma”, “Tahi nei taru kino”, “Pohete whero” and “Haere mai”.

There is the usual exception. “Now is the Hour”, like “Po karekareona” has become so hackneyed that it is rarely sung “straight”; in this case it is dragged out to breaking point like a piece of sucked and sickly sweet toffee. Better not to sing it at all.

Apart from this, the studio recordings are almost faultless.

The boys really “go to town” at the Wellington concert and this recording (reverse side of the L.P.) loses much of the balance and precision of the studio recordings.

In its place we have a spontaneity that rides roughshod over most, but not all, of the technical blemishes on this recording.

No doubt the party was somewhat stale by the time this last record was made—same old songs over and over again—probably, imperceptibly, interjections and variations on the theme had crept in, until we have the chorus of “E waha e” almost obliterated by a series of guttural grunts. By contrast, the next number, “Pohete whero”, maintains the precision that is dictated by the poi. The recording of the Wellington Town Hall concert concludes with a poor haka.

Technically, the Wellington Town Hall concert is the worst I have heard for years. The technicians did scant justice to the performers. It sounds as if the recording has come from a tape placed too close to the singers, so that the men's voices override the women's, and individual voices—in one case, talking during a performance—stand out far too clearly for my taste.

Too often a concert party, faced with a battery of microphones and the unnatural hush of the studio, feels the spirit dribble out its boots; but these studio recordings are superb; they have as much vigour, to my ignorant ear, as the Town Hall concert, without the consequent loss of precision and balance. I particularly recommend the 78 r.p.m. recordings, and if I had to pick one from a very fine sheaf of songs, it would be “Haere ra e hine,” with “Karu” on the reverse side.

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Rising to fame as Rock n’ Roll exponents are the Rotorua all-Maori Morrison Quartet which models its technique on ‘The Platters’. Quartet plus accompaniment are: John Morrison, Howard Morrison, Chubby Hamiora, Gary Rangiihu, and guitars: Terry Morrison and Wi Wharekura.

The quartet was born during the last football season. It came to the fore in Rotorua during the holiday season, soon was placed in the finals of a talent quest in Hamilton, and was introduced to Auckland by Laurie Petty, organiser of the Australian tour last year.

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Over 700 visitors attended the opening last April of Te Reinga's new £14,000 hall and meeting house. Maori art has been fitted into a mainly modern architecture. The hall is named after Hinekorako who according to tradition in ancient times dived into Te Reinga falls, and is still protecting her descendants near the falls.