The Mauriora Entertainers
After being away from New Zealand for four years, the ‘Mauriora Entertainers’ returned earlier this year for a brief visit.
In our cover picture are, from left at back, Ratu Tibble from Te Araroa, Dawn Nathan, Wellington and Joe Tibble, Te Araroa. In front are Taite Kupa from Hastings and Agnes Paipa, Wellington. The sixth member, Kim Porou from Hastings, was absent when the photograph was taken.
With headquarters in British Columbia, they work mostly in Canada and the United States, but they have visited Alaska, Bangkok, Taipei and Hong Kong. Occasionally they work for the New Zealand Government, usually in promotion work for New Zealand. They travelled down to Los Angeles to perform when B.O.A.C. inaugurated their flights to New Zealand, and were invited to perform in Bangkok at the P.A.R.T.A. conference held there.
In an interview Dawn said:
‘We have been doing two 25-minute shows in the Vancouver Club in Canada, and usually begin our performance with one of the boys working the taiaha—a challenge—then we go into an action song of welcome, and canoe poi, a stick game and a double short poi. Then we might introduce a ‘fun’ number such as the ‘motor car’ song. Most of the songs are in Maori. We might sing two songs in English and two in Maori, then do the double long poi, and finish off with an action song.
‘We sometimes do the second half of our programme singing Pakeha songs because the members of the group have such good voices. But the Maori costume is eve-catching and receives the most comment. We could be appearing with other artists who may be wearing the most expensive ball gowns, but the Maori costume always attracts the most attention.
‘We filled a six months’ engagement in high-class clubs throughout California and Arizona, and this was a full-time job, as we were doing four shows a day. As well as singing, we would explain how our costumes were made, and the interest and response were fantastic.
‘Our plans are to make a tour of the campuses over there. We have already visited many High Schools and Colleges, where tremendous interest is shown, and our reception in these places has been really enthusiastic. One of the reasons our show goes over so well, is that the theatres, even in colleges, are so well equipped with lighting and other facilities that are needed for good shows.
‘Mostly we do night club work, but also do concert programmes lasting two hours. We don't find this tiring, seem to get enough rest, and have time on our hands to see the sights of the places we are visiting—we even went gold-panning in Alaska. We have performed in many peculiar places, like in a lions’ cage in California.
‘As a group, we have enjoyed meeting people, and the Americans are apt to be overwhelming with their hospitality. Because we are a happy group, both on stage and off, people want to meet us. They seem attracted because of our happy outlook and want to talk to us. When we are performing we try to transmit the feelings we are experiencing, to the audience, and this happens. This is what makes the people enjoy our performances—they are feeling, with us, our joy in the things we are doing.
‘Because of the expense, we did away with an agent, who would get ten per cent of our takings, and I am managing the group, and handling the business end of the work. We have more money this way after expenses have been paid, than if we were working with an agent. There is no problem for me as I type and do secretarial work, and find I have time to do all that is necessary in handling the work for the group.’
We wish Dawn's group continued success in the entertainment field.