Showbands back with a modern-day twist
The cultural and tourism icon is celebrating the anniversary of its establishment under Parliamentary legislation this year, with a series of major events in November and December including a spectacular showbands-style concert ‘in the Pa’ on Saturday November 30.
The concert, Sweet Inspiration, celebrates the musical legacy of Rotorua iwi, Te Arawa, and combines the best of the Maori showbands era with contemporary artists and arrangements.
Concert producer, Monty Morrison, says celebrating Maori showbands and bringing a modern twist to the iconic era entwines itself with Te Puia|NZMACI’s 50-year history.
"The development of Maori showbands during the 1950s and 60s created an important cultural backdrop during a period when Te Puia|NZMACI also became a well-known cultural icon.
"Sweet Inspiration is about remembering the showbands era - a period in our history which attributed to the development of modern Maori music and culture in New Zealand. It is also relevant to Te Puia|NZMACI’s journey during this time.
"The concert celebrates the link between the past and present. Made famous by cultural icons such as Billy T James and The Howard Morrison Quartet, it is also about demonstrating that the era of Maori showbands is still alive today."
The two-part programme features everything that people remember and love about the traditional Maori showbands, as well as performances from some of New Zealand’s up-and-coming young stars such as boy band Titanium and young female artist Ria Hall.
Mr Morrison says the programme has been designed to appeal to young and old.
The first act includes timeless music and song, comedy and clever impersonations, featuring
original showbands group, Kairo, who will take the stage along with The Trio, led by Howard Junior, the son of one of New Zealand’s most famous entertainers, Sir Howard Morrison.
The programme includes classic songs such as Dean Waretini’s The Bridge, which will also feature Temuera Morrison on stage, and New Zealand love song Prince Tui Teka’s E Ipo, the latter of which will be played as a tribute to all the influential figures from Rotorua and Te Puia|NZMACI who have passed on.
Contemporary New Zealand singer Ria Hall will bring the first session to a close with a performance of the 1970s classic, Sweet Inspiration, originally by the Yandall Sisters.
The second act features popular boy band Titanium, including Rotorua’s own Jordi Webber as one of the six-member band, who will perform a 45-minute set. The second act will wrap up in spectacular fashion with all performers returning to the stage for the grand finale.
Te Puia sales and marketing manager, Kiri Atkinson-Crean, says the concert is a chance to celebrate the 50-year milestone at Te Puia|NZMACI, as well as to recognise the heritage of the valley and acknowledge the visitors that have passed through its gates.
"Our people have welcomed and guided visitors through Te Whakarewarewa Valley for more than 170 years and have acted as kaitiaki (guardians) since long before that. We are proud of our legacy of manaaki (hospitality) and being able to share that with local and overseas manuhiri (visitors).
"Our 50-year celebration events are an invitation to New Zealanders to revisit our iconic valley, to relive what may be childhood memories and to create new ones for the future.
"The Sweet Inspiration concert is a celebration not only of what our people - past and present - have achieved at Te Puia|NZMACI over the last 50 years, but of all our manuhiri who have passed through our gates and are part of that history too."
The Sweet Inspiration concert is on Saturday November 30, from 7.30pm till 10pm, with tickets available through Ticketek. More information is available on Te Puia’s Facebook page.
The Maori showbands were a generation of performers that exploded onto the New Zealand music scene during the 1950s and 60s, featuring many Moari artists, musicians and writers. They combined traditional cultural practices with popular entertainment - such as rhythm and blues, Hawaiian music and show tunes. They created their own unique genre with a mix of off-beat comedy, clever stage routines and displays of distinctively Maori song and dance. Rich harmonies and the musicians’ skilful versatility made the showbands era a high point in the development of popular music.
Many went on to make their mark on the world stage where they were acclaimed for their unique entertainment style and talent.
The showbands era also saw many groups and festivals formed within New Zealand to revitalise customary Maori practices, such as kapa haka, (cultural performing arts), taonga puoro (musical instruments and traditions), whakairo (carving), raranga (weaving), ta moko (tattooing) and the racing of waka ama (outrigger canoes).