Māori musicians among new walking tour showcasing Auckland's musical past

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

A new guided tour of some of central Auckland’s best music venues, stretching from Karangahape Road down to the Aotea Centre, is part of New Zealand Music Month.

It will feature venues where many artists have performed to get a sense of the music scene in Tāmaki Makaurau over the past century. It includes venues of old like the dancehalls of the early 1900s to nightclubs in the modern day – and includes Māori musicians in showbands throughout the 1960s.

Tour guide Gareth Shute reflects on the Howard Morrision Quartet. having played one of its farewell shows at the Aotea Centre.

“It’s funny to think how huge they were at that time and the rugby union decided not to take Māori players to South Africa, the quartet did a song in 1960 called My Old Man’s an All Black to make fun of the fact that they weren't taking Māori on tour,” Shute says.

“They were a huge popular act, with songs like Hoki Mai that took te reo to a new level in popular music as well.”

Despite My Old Man’s an All Black being a highly political song at the time, Shute’s inclusion of the song says it’s part of the Howard Morrison Quartet’s great history.

“It’s humorous, rather than trying to be political. They claimed it wasn’t political at the time. But the chorus says ‘Fi Fi Fo Fum, there’s no Horis in this scrum’, which is that classic way of taking a couple of racist turns of phrases, turning them on their head and making fun of their best players. At the time, some of them were Māori, and they didn’t take them on the tour, which was a joke.”

People wanting to experience the walking tour, free and organised by Auckland Live in association with Audio Culture, can sign up on the Auckland Live website to take the stroll down memory lane.