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No. 54 (March 1966)
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Haka and Poi: Maori Concert of Queen Victoria and St Stephens Schools

Kiwi LC-18 12in 33 1/3LP

This is Kiwi's first Maori stereo record (it is also issued in a monoaural version), and it exploits the medium well. There is an excellent ‘live’ quality about the performances of both groups. However I was most disappointed that there were no combined items; these would be well worth hearing on some future occasion.

The boys of St Stephens (featured on side one) sing with happy gusto. Among many good items there is a particuarly delightful rendition of that little nonsense song ‘Kei whea ra Mama?’. My purely personal prejudice leads me to regret that they do not, on the whole, steer clear of songs with such easily identifiable Pakeha melodies as ‘I love Paris’. ‘Never on Sunday’ and ‘Yellow Bird’. These action songs using Pakeha melodies are quite legitimate but the trend today is away from unadulterated borrowings, and a school such as St Stephens should be in the vanguard of such a desirable move. However this in no way detracts from the merit of their performance on this disc. Their haka taparahi in particular have plenty of punch.

On side two Queen Victoria girls have a rather more sedate performance but one which is no less effective. In particular the pit-a-pat of the poi in ‘Pakete Whero’ and the click of the sticks in ‘Titi Torea’ come through beautifully in the stereo version. The cover is colourful (even though the St Stephen boys are shown in a very ragged peruperu) and the accompanying notes excellent.

The disc has almost everything — good technical quality, a very satisfying standard of performance, and plenty of variety in its items.

Soldiers Abroad:

Maori Concert Party of the First Battalion of the Royal N.Z. Infantry Regiment

Kiwi LC-26 12in 33⅓ LP

Soldier-singers seem to be popular with the Maori record buying public, for this is the

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third concert party of New Zealand soldiers serving overseas which has been recorded for Kiwi. The singing of this group is somewhat better than that of their predecessors, although the overall performance is a little lack-lustre in parts. Mind you, comparison between the three groups is easy. Of the 17 items featured on LC-26, no less than 13 have been featured on the discs of at least one and sometimes both of the two other parties. Some diversification is surely called for if Kiwi decide in the future to add yet another soldier concert part to its line-up!

Specific criticisms of the disc are the guitar accompaniments to the chants (No!), the soloist's singing garbled words in ‘E te Hokowhitu’ and the rather dispirited haka taparahi — it is painfully obvious in ‘Ruaumoko’ that not all of the performers are certain of the words.

On the credit side there are nicely balanced voices in some of the songs, and the cover is a very striking one with adequate notes. The record should be enjoyed by those who hear it.

Talofa Samoa:

Bernadette Grey and the Henry Rudolph Singers

Kiwi EA 108 7in 45 EP

Songs of My Fiji:

Amena Wainibu and the Kava Bowl Boys

Kiwi EA 114 7in 45 EP

Kiwi have made their debut in the field of Pacific Island music with these two very pleasant little records. ‘Talofa Samoa’ will be a firm favourite with those who buy it. The tunes are catchy, the soloist Bernadette Grey has a very pleasant voice and the backing by the Henry Rudolph orchestra and singers is excellent.

‘Songs of My Fiji’ may not have such wide appeal. It features a number of Fijian ‘kava bowl songs’ composed by a young Islander Amena Wainibu, and sung by himself and a group of his fellow patients from the Makogai Leprosarium. Amena Wainibu introduces each item, and does so very well. New Zealanders unused to the typical Fijian close harmony will find the tunes much of a muchness and perhaps even a little monotonous by the time they get to the last one. For those who have visited these friendly islands, the plaintive quality of the singing and the gay little songs will evoke a touch of nostalgia.

The following records have all been on the market for a considerable time.

Maori Songs

St Joseph's Maori Girls' Choir

Viking VE 146, 45 EP 7in

Viking have a number of records (not all featuring completely new offerings) of this fine group. All of them are marked by excellent fidelity in the quality of the recording, so that one feels that one is actually in the hall with the choir. This record is no exception, and will admirably satisfy the needs of those who want a sample of the choir without wishing to buy one of the more expensive 12 inch discs which are available.

Side one features ‘Toia Mai te Waka Nei’ and ‘Nei ra Ahau’. The former is spirited: the latter is more subdued and is marred by a tendency for the choir to fade away at the end of lines. Side two has ‘Pa Mai’ and a poi item. The first verse of Pa Mai should never have been used for the recording, for in the last line some of the choir sing the line ‘Haere mai …’ etc, whilst the remainder sing the correct ‘Kia kaha …’ This error is fortunately rectified in their second run through the song. Nevertheless one wonders why such an obvious error was not corrected before the tapes were transferred to the master disc. The poi item is good but lamentably there are no notes on the cover to explain poi to the uninitiated, or even to identify the sounds heard on the record with the cover picture of the girls twirling poi. An American acquaintance of mine on listening to the item said, ‘Say are they playin' a drum or sumthin'?’

Maori Melodies

Hukarere Church of England School Choir

Viking V250–9 10 in 33⅓ LP

The Hukarere Choir has a warmer and less strident tone than St Joseph's Girls' Choir, and hence their record seems much earthier and less ephemeral. However, there is a sameness of tempo and presentation about the items which leads me to say that the record is pleasant but undistinguished. Nevertheless I enjoyed the record and am happy to recommend it.

Hakas in Hi-Fi

‘Te Aute Maori Club

Viking VE 61 7in 45 EP

Half the haka featured on this record are haka waiata and the remainder are taparahi. They are performed with spirit and precision and the words come through clearly and vigorously.