May 9, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

He Poroporoaki: Sir Howard Morrison

5 min read

“E Ta, e Te Rangatira, moe mai ra i te moengaroa o te tini o te mano. E kore te reo o te kokako-hua-taratara e rangona a muri ake nei i Te Waonui-a-Tane”.

Update: A musical tribute will be held for Sir Howard Morrison tonight, at his home marae at Ohinemutu on Lake Rotorua’s lakefront, where he is lying in state.  Thousands of people people are expected to pay their respects today, including a number of entertainers.  Click here for more details.

So started the many tributes to remember, celebrate and mourn the passing of Sir Howard Morrison, who sadly passed away at home this morning, overlooking the peaceful settlement of Ohinemutu, on the tranquil shores of Lake Rotorua-Nui-a-Kahumatamomoe.  Our respects extend to the Morrison whānau and to all whose lives Sir Howard so dearly touched.


This from Dr Tamati Reedy:

Sir Howard, sleep deeply in the slumber of the myriads who’ve gone before.  The sounds of the deep-throated-tui will no longer be heard from the great forest of Tane.

I remember Howard firstly as youngsters in the Aotearoa Māori Concert Party of 1956.  We travelled in Australia.  Howard was the star then, and of course of his famous Howard Morrison Quartet.

During my time as Secretary of the Department of Māori Affairs in the 80s, I want to record my appreciation of the enormous contribution that Howard made to the development of Māori youth programs, and providing inspirational leadership in the work of the Department.

Sir Howard’s knighthood was fittingly accorded as well as his recent award of an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Waikato.   We recognise his outstanding contribution to his iwi, to all of Māoridom, and to Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Our deepest sympathy to Kahu and whanau.  Dr Tamati Reedy

From New York, the Prime Minister John Key said:

Sir Howard had been at the forefront of New Zealand music for more than 50 years and his contribution was immense.

Sir Howard was a New Zealand success story. From humble beginnings he became an international success, first with the Howard Morrison Quartet, and then in an illustrious solo career.  But more than that, Sir Howard was one of New Zealand’s best loved entertainers, his appeal spanning every age group.  I pay tribute to a real gentleman. My thoughts are with his whānau at this time. Sir Howard Morrison will be greatly missed.”

Many people followed the extraordinary musical career of Sir Howard and recently, many others joined his journey of Tribal Development, Youth Encouragement and Health Improvement.  To the many charities, trusts and community organisations Sir Howard worked alongside, he will be recognised as an extraordinarily generous Cultural Ambassador and remembered as a dear friend of many communities.

This from our whanaunga Julian Moheka Williams:

E Te Arawa e!! Nei rā tēnei e tangi hāku nei i  te ngaro atu o te Kakatarahae o te waka o Te Arawa, te manu tioriori o te  Waoku a Tāne kua wahangū i te tirohanga tangata, aue!! Taukiri e!!

Moe mai e Koro Howie, moe mai i te moenga roa o te tangata, takahia i te ara Tiramāka ki Tūpaengarau, a papa te whaititiri, ka hikohiko te uira, ka tangi te oro ki te rangi, ka karanga ake rā ki nga haumihi arorangi, kua hinga tēnei rangatira, tēnei whatukura o te Ao puoro.  Nō reira, tē rongo anō ki tō reo pārekareka e koro Howie, ka rere arorangi ngā tangi maioha mōu e koro Howie.

Nō reira e Koro, takahia i te ara whanui a Hinetūākirikiri ki Te Reinga, ki Te Pūmotomoto ki Tikitiki-o-rangi, moe mai i roto i te aroha o te Ariki nui i te Rangi i a Io-hana, Io te Waiora, ki te kapunipunitanga o te wairua kua wheturangitia, moe mai i te Poutūtanga o Pipiri, te Pūtahi nui o Rehua, te urunga tē taka, te moenga tē whakaarahia, moe mai e te rangatira o Te Arawa waka, moe mai rā.

Ray Woolf , who for 12 years appeared on adverts for Bic pens with Sir Howard on television, said he was extremely talented with an indefinable magic.

He had a magic in his eye, when he went on stage he could just have that audience in the palm of his hand.  He had a great attitude … he was very talented; extremely talented,” Woolf he told Radio New Zealand.  He was very, very funny.”

Woolf said he was aware of Morrison’s poor health. Although his voice had suffered a little during his illness, it had kept its “sparkle”.

The Māori Party said Sir Howard touched the hearts of New Zealanders with his incredible talent.

Sir Howard’s music, and his style of entertainment, transcended national and cultural boundaries to lift the spirits of people great and small in every corner of the world.  Howard took the songs of our people, the songs of his beloved village of Ohinemutu to the world,”said Dr Pita Sharples.

In between the tours, the concerts, the albums and the relentless work of the show business circuit, Sir Howard is remembered for his devotion to the people.  His initiative in the organisation of Tu Tangata was as legendary as his singing. Sir Howard was able to utilise his distinctive status to support rangatahi Māori in being able to have dreams and to believe the world was theirs

That was perhaps his greatest gift to Aotearoa – that he instilled a fierce sense of pride in us all”, Tariana Turia said.

From an entertainment rich whanau, Sir Howard actively encouraged members to utilise their skills and talent.  From up and coming Elizabeth Marvelly, to Tem, Tainui  and Howard Morrison Jnr, his performance legacy will live on in song, in performance and in entertainment.

Recently, Sir Howard received Te Tohu Tiketike a Te Waka Toi from the Māori board of Creative New Zealand for his lifetime commitment to entertainment.

He was proud to say “it’s a very special award.

You know I’ve won everything that one possibly could through achieving in my career from the mainstream, but to be honoured by the Maori contingent of Te Waka Toi makes it even more important to me, and to be presented with that on my own marae,” Sir Howard said on that day. He said show business kept his mind young.

Fight4theFutureI remember working with Sir Howard on the 2007 Fight for the Future, an event that started with a dream and began the life long journey toward health improvement, especially amongst young families.  Along with Terry Morrison and Jim McTamney, Sir Howard brought together over 30 health service providers, who in turn attracted 700 people over two days, to discuss positive living, healthy eating, exercise, mental health support and blood testing.  It was an amazing atmosphere created under the patronage of Sir Howard.

Many tributes will be made to Sir Howard Morrison, and in appreciation and with sadness, Moe Mai Ra e Te Rangatira.  He kakano ~ i ruia mai i Rangiatea.  Haere, Haere, Haere Ra…

3 thoughts on “He Poroporoaki: Sir Howard Morrison

  1. Sir Howard Morrison one of NZ’s best loved entertainers

    Sir Howard Morrison was one of New Zealand’s best loved entertainers, with an appeal that crossed the generations.

    So it’s not surprising that within hours of his death, people were paying their respects.

    Parliament was brought to a standstill this afternoon out of respect and mourning.

    Sir Howard was performer whose career spanned 50 years, starting with harmony and humour.

    As he told a Maori TV documentary, the quartet toured and toured until they could tour no more.

    “I said end on a high note eh? We all chorussed together chur!” exclaimed Sir Howard

    Sir Howard went solo, at the same time turning his attention to family and community, especially Maori youth.

    Sir Howard was awarded an OBE in 1976 and continued with his distinguished solo career that crossed so many others.

    “There is nobody who is another Sir Howard,” says entertainer Tina Cross. “There is no one who will fill that gap so we’ve lost our legend icon much more than that in many ways he was the heart and soul of the New Zealand entertainment.”

    His talent also broke down barriers – he was the first mainstream Maori artist.

    Sir Howard was knighted in 1990, and even though his health was fragile it was hard to keep him off the stage.

    But for many he will be remembered for one particular performance in front of the queen.

    “It was one of those magnificent moments that happens once or twice in your performing life time,” says Frankie Stevens.

    But asked what he thought would be his legacy – Sir Howard humbly had this to say: “Let the people decide.”

    Perhaps the title of the great song ‘How Great Thou Art’ say it best.

    3 News

  2. 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.

    Theres 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 mans 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 nations 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 wasnt 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 todays 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.

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