Sunday, 18 October 2015

Howard Morrison Quartet - 4 Popular Maori Songs Vol. 1

Hoki Mai/Maringi Noa/Poatarau (Now Is The Hour)/Haere Haere Ra E Hinw

The Howard Morrison Quartet (originally named the Ohinemutu Quartet) was a New Zealand band during the 1950s and early 1960s. The band was formed by Sir Howard Morrison and included Gerry Merito, Wi Wharekura and Noel Kingi.

Howard Morrison was born in Rotorua in 1935, in a rugby-playing family. He died in Rotorua 24 September 2009. In 1955, while working as a surveyor's chainman, he started putting together vocal groups to entertain at rugby club socials in Rotorua. In 1956 he toured Australia as a member of the Aotearoa Concert Party.

On his return, he heard guitarist Gerry Merito and put together a group with Gerry and two others, Wi Wharekura and Noel Kingi, and named the group Howard Morrison Quartet. In 1958 they became part of Benny Levin's touring 'Pop Jamboree.' A recording they made of "Hoki Mai/ Po Karekare Ana" sold well, and in 1959 their parody of "The Battle Of New Orleans," recorded as The Battle Of The Waikato, became one of their biggest hits.

In 1960 they were so popular their managers released 13 singles, 3 EP's and 2 LP's. Another parody of Lonnie Donegan, "My Old Man's A Dustman" was rewritten by Gerry Merito as "My Old Man's An All Black." This was highly topical because of the huge controversy over Maoris not being allowed to tour South Africa with that year's All Blacks.

Moving into 1962, two of their singles were more parodies, with Ray Steven's "Ahab The Arab" becoming "Mori The Hori" and Pat Boone's "Speedy Gonzales" becoming "George The Wilder Colonial Boy", celebrating the exploits of escaped convict George Wilder.

Due to the constant touring and absence from families, the quartet disbanded in 1965 but have occasionally re-united in various incarnations over the subsequent years.

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