Saturday, 28 October 2017

Rotorua Maori Choir c.1936 and the Rotorua Maori Musical Society c.1940

Music in Rotorua from the 1920's-1940's

·         In 1928 a Rotorua Amalgamated Society of Musicians was in existence and performing monthly concerts for locals.

·         In 1936 a Maori Choir Company was formed. 

Excerpt from the Rotorua Morning Post, 9th September 1936

A public company ‘to exploit Maori music, Rotorua Maori Choir Ltd. To which objection was raised when the proposal was placed before the Rotorua Borough Council in July, has been registered in Auckland with a capital of £100, in £1 shares… The objects are stated to be “to promote and develop Maori music, singing and entertainment by the formation of choirs to be properly trained to give concerts and entertainments in New Zealand and abroad; to make gramophone records; and to arrange for the services of a qualified teacher of voice production”.  The subscribers are S.H. Hay, M.H. Hampson, with 13 shares each; E. La Trobe Hill, H. Bertram, R.A. Gardner, F.M. Boord, D.W. Steele, 12 shares each; A. Brown, L.C. Ryan 6 shares each; R. Ratema, L.R. Morrison, 1 share each’

  • Guide Molly along with Deane Waretini, were foundation members of the Rotorua Maori Choir.  The choir was made famous due to Mr Gil Dech, noted pianist and conductor, who ‘superintended the making of gramophone records of the choir’ c.1929,  He was also  'the man who made the Rotorua Maori Choir famous throughout the world through the medium of those gramophone records'.  R.M.P 27.4.1937. The choir was disbanded by the time this article was published.  To read Guide Molly’s Obituary, see Don Stafford’s Biography Folder, page M82. 
·         By mid-1940 a Maori Musical Society was formed ‘to promote and preserve in Rotorua’ by Guide Molly (Mere Te Mauri Meihana) who was a trained singer.

Excerpt from Rotorua Morning Post 13th June 1940 
The chief aim of popularising a musical tradition that is both authentic and progressive. At the same time the society will take on interest in legends, history, poetry, and crafts of Maori culture’.  Their first production as a ‘patriotic effort Alfred Hill’s opera “Hinemoa”. It is understood that Mr Hill himself has expressed his willingness to come to New Zealand and conduct the opera’.

Published in the New Zealand Herald 16th October 1940.
Thanks to Papers Past for this article.
Officers of the society were appointed, these being: Patron Mr M.H Hampson; President Mr R. Morrison; Vice-Presidents,  Mr L. Kingi, Mrs M. Anderson, Mr A. Hill ; Secretary Mr P. Munro; Committee, Mr H. Gordon, Mr H. Haupapa, Mrs F. Mitchell, Guide Rangi, Mrs M. Eparauna; Treasurers,  Mr W. Watson and Miss F. Mitchell.

It is unclear how many of the above people performed “Hinemoa”. We know from the R.M.P of 27th April 1937 that Guide Molly did.

The Rotorua Morning Post reported that “Two officials of the Auckland Operatic Society… travelled here especially to hear the Maori Musical Society at a rehearsal of “Hinemoa” which will be performed early in the New Year” and on the 20th December 1940 the R.M.P published the following “Advice has been received by the Maori Musical Society, that Mr. E. Hill, brother of Mr Alfred Hill the composer of “Hinemoa” will produce the opera for the society”

Further articles were published on 4th January 1941, 11th January 1941, 4th February 1941, 18th May 1941 and 23rd October 1941.

With Thanks to the Don Stafford Collection Arts & Biography Folders for the above information.

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