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Flavell - Poroporoaki : Sir Howard Morrison

Poroporoaki : Sir Howard Morrison
Thursday 24 September 2009; 2pm
Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiariki

Kua pokarekare nga wai o te Rotorua nui a Kahumatamomoe!
Kua pahu nga waiariki o Ohinemutu!
Ka tairi te kohu ki runga o Tamatekapua!
Kua ru te Papaiouru i te hinganga o Ta Howard Morrison, uri o Whakauekaipapa, reo rongonui o te ao Maori ki nga topito katoa o te ao!

E te rangatira, ka pa mai te rongo kino nei, ka pakaru mai te tangi o nga iwi huri noa, Maori mai, Pakeha mai, i te mamae, i te arohanui ki a koe.

Nou te reo aroha, he reo whakapai i te wairua, whakamama i te taumahatanga, reo whakamenemene, whakakatakata, he reo whakakotahi i nga iwi.

He reo kawe i te mana Maori ki te ao, he reo waiata i tonoa mai e nga arikinui, e nga upoko, e nga mana nui o nga iwi, o nga whenua puta noa.

Inaianei kua wahangu koe, kua ngau mai a mamae, haunga ano te hotuhotu o te tangi o te ngakau.

Ta Howard, takoto mai ra e koro, takoto mai ra i te poho o to whanau, o to marae, o to iwi, moe mai ra i te moenga te whakaarahia, i te urunga te taka. Ko koe tera e whai nei i te huarahi kua oti i a Atareta ma, i a Taini ma, te takahi. Ma raua, ma ratou koe e powhiri.

Haere, haere, haere ki te Po! E koro, whakangaro atu ra.

Mr Speaker I am told that the very first release of the Sir Howard Morrison Quartet in 1958 is a fitting tribute to the life of this remarkable man.

‘There’s only one of you / Big Man’, says it all about Ta Howard Morrison. Sir Howard Morrison is a name that every New Zealander can identify with.

Older New Zealanders remember the stunning song of the Howard Morrison Quartet - the likes of Hoki Mai; Haere ra e hine; Little darlin’; and the legendary ‘my old man’s an all black’.

The matter of being to son of an All Black is something worth considering in terms of Sir Howard.

He was the son of Maori All Black Temuera Morrison, and he was angered at the decision in 1960 that Maori were not allowed to tour South Africa with the All blacks tour.

Now others campaigned with the slogan, ‘No Maoris – no Tour’. There was a petition with 150,000 signatures. There were protests. And Sir Howard Morrison sung.

That was something special about Sir Howard and some might call it that ‘Morrison magic’ – he had a wicked smile, a neat sense of humour, he had of course a wonderful talent, the professional entertainer but boy he could cut you like a knife if you were not up to standard.

That can happen in te ao Maori. He was like that because he always wanted the best for his people and the nation. To that end, I believe Sir Howard became a powerful figure in the nation’s history with the ability to persuade, to challenge, and to move us all.

He made Ngati Whakaue proud to be Ngati Whakaue. He made us all proud to be Te Arawa. He made us proud to be Maori. He made us proud of Aotearoa.

‘Howie the Maori’ as he was often called, pioneered along with many others that “Maori entertainer” style, with that wicked sense of humour which endeared him to audiences and often made him centre stage, even when he wasn’t even performing.

But his talents extended way beyond the concert hall in the way that he was determined to express his love for his people, across many spheres of influence.

When the Howard Morrison Quartet was in full flight, their manager, Harry Miller, wanted to take them to Las Vegas and London – where no doubt their talents would have been fully appreciated.

But Sir Howard was reluctant to leave the home shores, and the people he loved.

The show biz circuit was a long way away from his upbringings in Rotorua and Ruatahuna.

Sir Howard always spoke of the days of isolation in Te Urewera as providing him with the space to dream big. In a documentary last year he reflected, “As I was an audience of one, I fell in love with the way I sounded”.

With the security of his whanau around him and the solid foundation provided at both the Urewera native school and Te Aute College, Sir Howard developed the confidence that would take his big dreams to the world.

Before the fame of the world stage, he worked as a storeman in the Hawkes Bay; on the line at the Whakatu freezing works; as a survey chainman and an electricity meter reader.

These experiences remained a powerful influence with him, and no doubt influenced his decision to take up a role of Director of Youth Development in Maori Affairs.

Under his leadership, the programme called Tu Tangata evolved, including true to form, a nationwide tour with the entire Morrison family touring party alongside, including his beloved mother, Kahu; a distinguished singer herself.

This is another aspect of the man, the love and commitment he expressed for his whanau across so many areas of influence.

The Morrison magnetism is a fundamental expression of Te Arawa, of Ngati Whakaue, of Rotorua, of Waiariki.

We often say that deaths come in threes – and today’s loss is even more profound in the fact of the recent passing of two other prominent members of the Morrison whanau with his sister, Atareta Maxwell, and no more than four months ago, now, his niece, Taini. They will all be missed.

And so today is a very dark day for us at home, as we begin to mourn this remarkable man.

Maori Television had the wisdom to preserve special memories with Sir Howard in a series they dubbed, He kotuku rerenga tahi. It literally means, that the flight of the kotuku, the white heron, is seen but once.

Sir Howard will be remembered as an extraordinary entrepreneur; a brilliant showman; a sophisticated diplomat, and a distinguished ambassador for Aotearoa.

But we will miss him most for the generosity of his laughter; the breadth of his love, and the way he made us all feel.

There will only ever be one Ta Howard Morrison.

Moe mai e koro.


© Scoop Media

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