Images on a wall of Māori performers showcased in Pūkana.

Performing careers

Once you embrace the audience, share your experience of what you do and they will come with you — and you can feel it. It’s manipulation in a way, but it’s the most wonderful feeling. — George Henare, as told to Katherine Findlay

Take an audio tour with Paul Diamond one of the curators of Pūkana. Paul shares stories and highlights from the exhibition.

Listen to Paul Diamond talk about ‘Performing careers’ in Pūkana

Listen to Paul Diamond, one of the curators of Pūkana, talk about the performing careers section of the exhibition.

  • Transcript — Performing careers

    But actually, something I should also mention, a final section is we've highlighted a number of Māori performers. And it's called ngā tangata mīharo. You know, mīharo is amazement, and the amazing people, these people who've had these extraordinary performing careers. So they're also referred to right through the exhibition.

    So Alien Weaponry, who are a thrash metal band who sing in Māori, they kind of represent the kind of end point of sort of the incredible things happening in Māori performance now. If we kind of begin with the women in Hine-te-iwaiwa, when the other women were performing haka to make Kae smile in, sort of, ancient times – Alien Weaponry is the other end.

    And also acknowledging that they're very young those guys. They're at the beginning of their careers. Johnny Cooper, the Māori cowboy who's donated his collection to the Turnbull and whose talent quests are also mentioned in the exhibition, Tina Cross, who won the Pacific Song Contest with – well, actually Carl Doy won the Pacific Song Contest with a song called 'Nothing but Dreams' in 1979, sung by Tina Cross – but she's gone on to have this incredible career as a performer.

    And she has performed at the library. She was at the opening of the exhibition. George Henare, who was in 'Porgy and Bess' was in 'Once Were Warriors'. He's all through this exhibition. Princess Te Rangi Pai, Fanny Rose Howie was her other name – Te Rangi Pai was her stage name – superstar of her day, may not be so well known now as she was in the early 1900s. But we still sing songs that she wrote including ‘Hine e hine’... Moana Maniapoto. A man who performed with Te Rangi Pai, Edward Hatiwiri Pahura Rangiuia, his stage name was Chieftain Rangiuia. So you're acknowledging that there were early on, not many, but there were some Māori performers who really broke through and had international profiles. He was well known in Australia, Paris, as well as England.

    Taiaroa Royal, who has had an extraordinary career in many different dance companies in New Zealand and then founded the Okareka Māori Dance Company. Hannah Tatana, who's now known as Hannah Stappard, so trained with the famous nun teacher at St Mary's in Auckland, Sister Mary Leo. So we've got some photos of her training with Sister Mary Leo taken by Ans Westra, but another Ans Westra photo of Hannah with Kiri Te Kanawa. So they were both training at the same time, and Ans photographed them at the first Māori Festival of the Arts at Ngaruawahia in 1963.

    Marlon Williams, another one of the contemporary performers, and then Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, who's had a remarkable career. And she's begun depositing her collection of, starting with her orchestral scores for the arrangements of Māori songs and other songs, other music that she's recorded as a singer.

    Any errors with the transcript, let us know and we will fix them: digital-services@dia.govt.nz

  • Transcript — Performing careers

    But actually, something I should also mention, a final section is we've highlighted a number of Māori performers. And it's called ngā tangata mīharo. You know, mīharo is amazement, and the amazing people, these people who've had these extraordinary performing careers. So they're also referred to right through the exhibition.

    So Alien Weaponry, who are a thrash metal band who sing in Māori, they kind of represent the kind of end point of sort of the incredible things happening in Māori performance now. If we kind of begin with the women in Hine-te-iwaiwa, when the other women were performing haka to make Kae smile in, sort of, ancient times – Alien Weaponry is the other end.

    And also acknowledging that they're very young those guys. They're at the beginning of their careers. Johnny Cooper, the Māori cowboy who's donated his collection to the Turnbull and whose talent quests are also mentioned in the exhibition, Tina Cross, who won the Pacific Song Contest with – well, actually Carl Doy won the Pacific Song Contest with a song called 'Nothing but Dreams' in 1979, sung by Tina Cross – but she's gone on to have this incredible career as a performer.

    And she has performed at the library. She was at the opening of the exhibition. George Henare, who was in 'Porgy and Bess' was in 'Once Were Warriors'. He's all through this exhibition. Princess Te Rangi Pai, Fanny Rose Howie was her other name – Te Rangi Pai was her stage name – superstar of her day, may not be so well known now as she was in the early 1900s. But we still sing songs that she wrote including ‘Hine e hine’... Moana Maniapoto. A man who performed with Te Rangi Pai, Edward Hatiwiri Pahura Rangiuia, his stage name was Chieftain Rangiuia. So you're acknowledging that there were early on, not many, but there were some Māori performers who really broke through and had international profiles. He was well known in Australia, Paris, as well as England.

    Taiaroa Royal, who has had an extraordinary career in many different dance companies in New Zealand and then founded the Okareka Māori Dance Company. Hannah Tatana, who's now known as Hannah Stappard, so trained with the famous nun teacher at St Mary's in Auckland, Sister Mary Leo. So we've got some photos of her training with Sister Mary Leo taken by Ans Westra, but another Ans Westra photo of Hannah with Kiri Te Kanawa. So they were both training at the same time, and Ans photographed them at the first Māori Festival of the Arts at Ngaruawahia in 1963.

    Marlon Williams, another one of the contemporary performers, and then Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, who's had a remarkable career. And she's begun depositing her collection of, starting with her orchestral scores for the arrangements of Māori songs and other songs, other music that she's recorded as a singer.

    Any errors with the transcript, let us know and we will fix them: digital-services@dia.govt.nz

Ngā tāngata mīhiro

Te tīmatanga a te Māori ki te whakakitekite i waho anō i ō rātou āhuatanga ā-iwi, ka titiro mai a tauiwi ki a rātou hei mōkai whakakitekite, heoi anō tō rātou mōhio hei waiata i ā rātou waiata tuku iho, e ai tā te whakaaro o te tauiwi. Heoi anō, i te takanga o ngā whakatupuranga kua kōkiri te iwi Māori ki ōna ara whakakitekite, nā rātou anō i rapu, i whakarite – i roto katoa i ngā toi whakakitekite. Nā ētahi tangata i eke ki ngā taumata i para te huarahi mō te hunga whai i muri. I pērā anō i te tau 1965 i roto i a Porgy and Bess, i tū ai te kaiwaiata reo nguru ingoa-nui a lnia Te Wiata ki te whakaahua i ngā pūmanawa torowhānui a te Māori, i tua noa atu i te whakatangitangi kitā, i te waiata i te kapa haka.

I tēnei wāhanga o Pūkana ka whakanuia e mātou ngā pūmanawa me te ngākau-nui o ngāi Māori – kei konei ka tākina he kōrero mō ētahi o ngā kaiwhakakite Māori i takahi huarahi mahi i te ao whakakitekite. Nā te pai o ā rātou mahi ka ohorere ngā kaimātakitaki o te motu, o te ao, ka rere te ihi, ka mau te wehi, ka tau hoki te wana.

Performing careers

When Māori began performing outside their own cultural contexts, they were seen as curiosities, only able to excel in traditional performance. But over time, Māori have developed performing careers on their own terms – in all the performing arts. Sometimes people who became successful were able to forge a path for others. This happened in 1965 with Porgy and Bess, when world-renowned bass singer Inia Te Wiata helped Māori show they could extend beyond concert-party work.

In this section of Pūkana we celebrate Māori talent and determination – profiling some of the Māori performers who forged, and in some cases continue to develop careers in performance, stunning their audiences here and overseas with ihi, wehi and wana

Tina Cross.
Portrait of a woman with a Māori cloak and headband.

Feature image at top of page: Performing careers section of Pūkana.