Singing Faith: A History of the Waiata Maori Choir, 1924-1938
This Masters thesis contributes to our understanding of the hybridised musical culture that existed in early twentieth century New Zealand. By tracing the extensive tours of the Waiata Maori Choir from 1924 until the group disbanded in 1938, this research illuminates the process of singing faith (in this case Methodism) and of the religious, racial, social, cultural, musical and political factors that made up the group. The choir’s Methodist founder, Reverend Arthur Seamer, used the stage as a venue to interact and intersect with the choir’s audiences. This enabled them to contribute to the broader education in Maori history and culture of their typically European audiences, and to actively change the attitudes of both races. This study of the choir members, their music and performance traditions, and their Methodist background places New Zealand’s music culture into the limelight, including traditional Maori history and culture and the ways that this style of performance changed over time; how Western-based repertoire was interpreted and changed in meaning and reception with different racial performers and audiences; and traces how a lively and constantly changing hybridised music culture emerged and developed between Western and Maori musical styles. The stage became a site whereby discourse regarding Maori could be negotiated and managed by the choir members to suit their needs. While the choir sang for their Methodist mission, they found a way to bring both Maori performer and European audience together through music.
Advisor: Brookes, Barbara; Seymour, Mark
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: History
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Music; Methodism; Maori; New Zealand; Australia; United Kingdom
Research Type: Thesis