'The best entertainment of its kind ever witnessed in New Zealand': the Rev. Frederick Augustus Bennett, the Rotarua Maori Entertainers, and the story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai

Marianne Schultz

Abstract


On 18 July 1908 the Christchurch Star announced the ‘one universal verdict’ concerning the appearance of the Rotorua Maori Entertainers at the Choral Hall on Wednesday and Thursday of that week. Advertising the ‘refined, unique and immensely diverting entertainment’, the Star proclaimed that it was ‘the best entertainment of its kind ever witnessed in New Zealand’. Directing the performance was the Rev. Frederick Augustus Bennett, or F.A. Bennett as he was more widely known, a young, charismatic Maori leader and orator, who twenty-one years later would become the inaugural Bishop of Aotearoa. Alongside traditional poi and haka, the production featured a male quartet singing a combination of waiata (song), ‘Plantation Songs’, and popular tunes such the Scottish folk ballad The Banks of Allen Water. The troupe of entertainers had, by the time of their appearance in Christchurch, already filled theatres in Rotorua, Auckland, New Plymouth, Wanganui and Wellington.

*WINNER OF THE 2011 GREG DENING MEMORIAL PRIZE*

Keywords


New Zealand; Maori history; twentieth century; performance; music; travelling entertainment

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