Spectacular Polynesian Concert
It is at night however, when the cool breezes blow in from the sea, that the Centre really comes to life. From Monday to Saturday during the season the Centre presents a spectacular review in which concert parties from Hawaii, Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji and of course New Zealand provide their distinctive contribution. Usually, Maori students from the nearby Mormon University provide Maori items but during my visit the Te Arohanui Party was performing. The audience sits under a grand-stand-like roof, separated from the outdoor stage by an artificial stream some five yards wide. Behind the stage is a towering back-drop of natural rock laced by artificial waterfalls which can be illuminated in all colours by concealed lighting. When it is time for the ‘scene’ on stage to change, a coloured curtain of water leaps high into the air between audience and performers.
The Te Arohanui contribution was a fitting climax to a great show. There was no concession to spectacle in their repertoire but the dances and songs were enhanced (as they always are for entertainment purposes) by effective lighting, planned entrances and exits and uninterrupted performance.
In Los Angeles I stayed with the Mauriora Entertainers, now renamed ‘The Kiwis’ in deference to the American public. This young and enterprising group of entertainers—Dawn Nathan of Wellington, Ratu and his brother Whiro Tibble of Tikitiki, Kim Porou of Gisborne and Taite Kupa and Agnes Paipa of Hastings—have been performing on a modest scale, gradually becoming better known in the Hollywood entertainment world. A recording made by the group is scheduled for American release shortly. There are a number of other Maoris in business in and around Los Angeles including Eleanor Hirai, formerly of Wellington, who now runs a restaurant known as ‘The Candy Clown’.