Two Wellington firms have recently published booklets about the Maori, which are sold with an extended-play record in an envelope attached to the back cover. One booklet is ‘The Maori of New Zealand’, containing Viking VSP 10 7in. 45 rpm. The other is ‘The Maori People’, containing Kiwi KM-2 7in. 45 rpm. Of the two discs the latter is probably better value for the tourist-type person for whom they are intended. It contains 9 tracks ranging through action song, poi, chant, love song, stick game, and haka taparahi. Some of these are unfortunately a little fragmentary and one is left with a longing to hear more. Nevertheless they do, in short compass, cover a considerable diversity in the field of Maori entertainment. The Viking disc is less ambitious with its six tracks featuring action songs, a haka taparahi and several group songs including one in English.
These discs and their booklets (both lavishly illustrated) represent an attempt to give the tourist a capsulised picture of the Maori people in both song and story. I have before bemoaned the fact that often little information is given on a record cover; tourists who take away these souvenirs of our country often do so with only the vaguest idea, if any, of the significance of the items to which they are listening, and of their place in the total fabric of the culture and traditions of the Maori people. These booklets go some way towards rectifying such omissions.
Mr David Tuart, the proprietor of Fairy Springs, Rotorua, has revived the old Maori art of carving ponga tekoteko. Years ago he was friendly with an old Maori carver who used to carve heads out of ponga stumps, and through watching him at work David learnt some of his techniques. Then recently he visited Hawaii and saw carved heads for sale there, carved from a type of tree-fern similar to the New Zealand ponga.
Realising that there was a potential for such carving in New Zealand, David began experimenting. He found that the main secret lay in selection of the right type of tree-fern and in maturing it; he says that the trunks should be kept at least 18 months in a cool, dry spot before carving.
Orders for his carved ponga heads are pouring in faster than he can produce them.
Mark Metekingi of Wellington has chorus parts in both of the operas being performed this year by the New Zealand Opera Company. In ‘Rigoletto’ he plays a courtier, complete with sword and ruff, and sings tenor; in ‘The Bartered Bride’ he is a Bohemian peasant, and a weight-lifter in a circus scene, and sings both tenor and baritone.
Mark had already taken part in numerous Arawa concert party shows, as well as having been in a couple of amateur operatic productions. His present roles, very different from these earlier ones, have given him a great enthusiasm for opera—‘It's tremendous', he says. He is so keen on it that his plans for building a canoe to trace the Maori migration back to Hawaiiki have had to be shelved, maybe indefinitely.