HINEMOA AND TUTANEKAI
HMV MALP 6021–2 Album containing two 12in LP 33 ⅓ rpm with descriptive booklet.
With this album HMV have achieved a ‘first’. Here on record is a full length Maori operetta and no effort seems to have been spared in presenting it in a form that enables the listener to share to the full this exciting production.
Each year New Plymouth stages a ‘Festival of the Pines’ in its famous Bowl of Brooklands. The Bowl is a splendidly equipped open air theatre surrounded by a stand of native bush which provides a spectacular backdrop. In front of the stage is a tiny lake and on the other side of the lake is the outdoor auditorium. The highlight of the 1966 Festival was a colourful and imaginative stage production of the famous Hinemoa and Tutanekai legend.
The production was conceived by John Ford of New Plymouth and immediately he was confronted with a number of formidable difficulties. The cast numbered some three hundred Maoris who were mainly members of Maori cultural groups from all over the province. Because of this dispersion rehearsals had to be piecemeal. Even a grant of £500 from the Queen Elizabeth Arts Council was only sufficient to pay for the cost of bringing the cast together for dress rehearsals. However, prior to this, Nancy Leatham the producer spent many months visiting the clubs and co-ordinating their activities.
Fourteen thousand people were fortunate enough to see the actual stage production. Now HMV have provided the means for many more to listen to a unique presentation of Maori song and sory. In issuing the recording HMV have appreciated the difficulty which many people might have in following the recorded material of what naturally was
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largely visual entertainment. They have overcome this splendidly. Not only is the full narration, which explains and introduces the events on stage included on the record, but a special booklet is also included which explains the story in detail. Also in the booklet is an introduction by John Ford which gives something of the background to the production. Finally as an added help to following the story-line the booklet gives the narrator's script interspersed with the names of the various items. Inside the double cover is a black and white photograph of the Bowl of Brooklands which shows its setting to advantage. The front cover is a spectacular night shot of the floodlit bowl with the entire cast in action on stage.
Considering the outdoor setting and the dispersion of the cast over the huge stage, HMV microphones have caught with remarkable fidelity the singing, chants and haka. In so doing they have preserved on record the authentic flavour of a moving and spectacular entertainment.
MEMORIES OF MAORILAND
A Complete Maori Concert with Te Pataka Maori Entertainers
Kiwi LC-40 12in 33 ⅓ LP
Ever since this record was issued some years ago in ten-inch form I have maintained that it provides one of he best selections of Maori entertainment available on the market. For reasons not known to the public, the ten inch size is no longer in favour with record companies and because of a continuing demand Kiwi have re-issued Memories of Maoriland in twelve inch form and added an extra three songs. (The price has also increased from 25/- for the ten inch version to £2 for the twelve inch).
Te Pataka were formed in 1957 by Anania te Amohau and others as a semi-professional group to cater for the need to provide good Maori entertainment for visiting tourists to Wellington. They have continued in this role to the present and have also made several trips to Australia as part of sponsored tourist promotion drives. The group are somewhat unusual in that they seldom perform in the presence of their fellow New Zealanders and never appear at competitions and other occasions when Maoridom foregathers. For this reason the record provides a rare opportunity to hear and to assess the worth of this small but talented group.
As mentioned above the disc is good value because it provides a wide selection of items ranging through traditional welcome, chant, action song, ancient and modern poi, haka taparahi and choral and solo items. These are introduced by concise but adequate cover notes. As is often the case with a small group in which everyone pulls their weight, the result is more impressive than that produced by a large party with passengers. Wisely no attempt has been made to capture an actual performance and the studio presentation has a clarity and fidelity which shows the group to best advantage. In addition to group items there are some fine solos and a charming bracket of songs of love and greeting by a smaller party.
Viking VP204 12in 33 ⅓ LP
Viking, who believe in getting plenty of mileage out of groups which record for them, have brought out yet another collection of tracks from Maori groups who have featured on full-length recordings issued earlier by the company. It is a pleasant and varied selection except for an item which purports to be a Maori chant. Entitled Ba Nana it is sung by Isabel and Virginia Whatarau. It is a tasteless offering.
The items range from action song to haka, traditional chant, poi, stick game and love song. A medley type disc such as this is always good value for the casual buyer of Maori material since it gives a selection of different groups and thus differing styles of performance, and of course varying types of item. However, such buyers usually want to know a little bit more about the origin, meaning and significance of the time than just a bald ‘haka’, ‘chant’ and the like. Viking have missed the bus in this respect because most tourists in particular have a healthy curiosity about the indigenous people and music of countries they visit. This record could thus have been so much more by adding so little. A few cover notes would have made all the difference.