Māori Music and Performance

A DigitalNZ Story by National Library of New Zealand Topics

Explore the Māori culture, history and uses of taonga puoro along with waiata, famous singers (traditional and contemporary), music awards, styles and contribution of Māori to theatre, film, dance and the unique performances that are waiata ā ringa and kapa haka. SCIS no: 1921970

Māori, arts, history, social_sciences, technology

Maisey Rika

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Māori musical instruments – taonga puoro: Māori musical concepts

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Māori composers – ngā kaitito waiata

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

WAIRUA AUAHA

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Whale Rider

NZ On Screen

Māori radio – reo irirangi: First decades of Māori radio

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Waiata tawhito - traditional Māori songs: Traditions of waiata

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Māori theatre - te whare tapere hōu

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

'Poi e'

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Ahi Ataahua

NZ On Screen

Upper Hutt Posse: 'E tu'

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Hinewehi Mohi

Services to Schools

Richard Nunns

Services to Schools

Types of haka

Services to Schools

Pōwhiri process

Services to Schools

Māori artists

Services to Schools

Tāmata Toiere

Services to Schools

Traditional waiata

Services to Schools

Waiata

Services to Schools

Putorino

Services to Schools

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

Services to Schools

AEIOU

Services to Schools

Māori dance

Services to Schools

Kete Aronui

Services to Schools

Playing the rōria

Services to Schools

Corporal Anaia Amohau

This is Corporal Anaia Amohau conducting the Māori choir singing ‘Māori Battalion’ at Helwan camp in Egypt during World War Two. Amohau started writing the words while he was in Rotorua in 1939. The song which is sung to the tune of ‘The Washington & Lee Swing’ is about the honour, bravery and courage of the 28th Māori Battalion. It soon became the marching song of Te Arawa. The song became so popular, it was sung in bars, music halls and wherever Māori soldiers gathered. ‘AU-E! ake kia kaha e!’ is a famous line from the song that spurred the Māori Battalion on to fight for God, for King and for Country.

Cpl Anaia Amohau conducts the Maori choir singing 'Maori Battalion', Helwan

Alexander Turnbull Library

Māori music record

A suggestion to record the Rotorua Māori Choir was made to Columbia Gramophone Company in 1929. This led to a contract being signed by three choir members – Geoffrey Rogers, Tame Petane, and Rotohiko Haupapa. The Rotorua Māori Choir was accompanied by Ana Hato and Deane Waretini. They were recorded at the Tūnohopu meeting house at Ohinemutu in Rotorua. The control room was set up on the porch and the recording room had shawls and carpets hung from the rafters to soften the echo. The recording sessions were long taking months to complete. The songs comprised folk songs, love songs, farewell songs, welcome songs, as well as two English hymns in te reo, ‘Au e Iho,’ and ‘Karaunatia.’

Columbia Records :Maori music. Columbia new process records; electric recording without scratch. [1920-30s].

Alexander Turnbull Library

Māori opera ‘Tapu’

The opera Tapu (meaning sacred in Māori) was composed by Alfred Hill in 1902 and performed by the Pollard Opera Company first in Wellington then Sydney in 1904. The theme was based on the power of the Māori tohunga (priest) and the plot was structured around an Australian politician George Wright who visited New Zealand, with the intention to unify the two countries. Eventually, the politician had to be rescued from a cooking pot. Most reviews stated that the opera was well received with much appreciation for the setting, music and dances, except for one review who felt that the dialogue was weak. However, Mr Hill was called upon to make several curtain calls.

A Maori Opera. (Taranaki Daily News 12-7-1904)

National Library of New Zealand

Powhiri for Vietnam veterans

This photo was taken at the powhiri for Vietnam war veterans on Wellington’s Taranaki Street Wharf in 1998. Powhiri is a process where Tangata Whenua (hosts) welcome manuhiri (visitors) onto a marae. However there are other welcoming occasions, and places where powhiri are performed, as shown in this image. The powhiri is meant to initiate the beginning of a respectful relationship between two groups. One of the women has a taiaha, a well-known Māori weapon. These were usually made from wood or whalebone.

Tom Tuhiwai at the powhiri for Vietnam veterans, Taranaki Street Wharf, Wellington, part of Parade '98 - Photograph taken by John Nicholson

Alexander Turnbull Library

Scene from Once were warriors.

Alan Duff, the well-known New Zealand novelist published his book ‘Once Were Warriors’ in 1990. Auckland film company Communicado Features Limited bought the rights to the book and turned it into a feature film. The story is about a Māori family descended from warriors and their struggle to cope with domestic violence and the frustration of being social outcasts in their own land. This photo was taken at a rehearsal. It shows Rene Owen (Beth Heke) beside her daughter’s coffin.

Rena Owen and Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell during rehearsal of Grace's tangi scene during shooting of Once were warriors, Auckland

Alexander Turnbull Library

Māori woman performing an action song

The facial expression (called pukana) of this Māori woman performing a waiata-ā-ringa – Māori action song is as important as the movement of her hand and body. A Māori action song is more than just entertainment. The lyrics of the song, facial expressions and the movement of the body, hands and legs convey deep feelings and ideas. This can only be achieved after practising the technique under experienced professionals. Waiata-ā-ringa can be fast, slow, serious or fun. Āpirana Ngata and Te Puea Hērangi are two famous composers of waiata-ā-ringa from the early 1900s.

Maori woman performing an action song

Alexander Turnbull Library

Māori performers in a fix

Māori entertainment groups were popular in New Zealand and overseas tours also found appreciative audiences from the early 19th century. This article from 1919 is about a Māori troupe visiting America to perform. On reaching the port in San Francisco the group cheerfully walked down the gangplank in their native costumes made from feathers of the bird of paradise and other birds. Their costumes were immediately confiscated because the only way such feathers could enter America would be for an exhibition at a public museum. The group complained that they could not perform without their costumes. It was only special permission obtained from Washington that exempted them from this rule. The g

MAORI PERFORMERS IN A FIX (Otago Daily Times 14-10-1919)

National Library of New Zealand

Māori women singing and using poi

Three Māori women pose singing for an unknown artist. Each has a poi which she flings over her left shoulder. Traditionally poi were soft balls made from raupo attached to a flax string. Dancers use a hitting or flowing technique with poi when performing. Here they stand close to each other, however realistically they would need to be at a distance from each other to allow free movement of the poi. Originally poi was used by warriors to improve the flexibility and skilfulness of their wrists. The women are dressed for the occasion with beautiful cloaks, each patterned differently with taniko designs. Taniko designs have special significance for whanau (family) or iwi (tribe).

Artist unknown :The poi. A pastime of the Maori maidens. [ca 1885]

Alexander Turnbull Library

Many Answers

Services to Schools