Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Good Memories

It's a long time since I heard the song 'Po Atarau' or its melody but you'd be amazed where things pop up.

Last Sunday at church, a recorded piano solo of 'Now Is The Hour' was played during communion and I confess it brought a tear to the Adolfian eye.   As children at a Northland Maori school during the 1950s, I and the other 100 or so pupils sang this and other Maori and Pakeha songs many many times.  I'm ashamed to say I have forgotten the Maori words so I'm hard at it, leaning them again.

What was surprising about last Sunday is that the Dean of the cathedral chooses the music and the Dean is a South African.  When later I asked him if he knew the melody was from a famous NZ Maori song of farewell he was flabbergasted.  Anyway, I went away and investigated the song's history and it is attributed to one Maewa Kaihau who produced the version known today in 1920.  Earlier versions where used to farewell troops departing for the First World War.

Which brings me to an associated story.   About fifteen years ago, one Sunday just before Anzac Day, a retired Presbyterian minister stood up in the congregation and told of the time when, as a small boy in the 1930s, he asked his mother why he had so many doting single aunts.  His mother replied:-

"Darling, it's because their husbands and sweethearts went off to the great war and did not come back."

As an aside, the fact these ladies did not remarry tells us something of the moral fibre prevalent in those days.

Anyway, here for your enjoyment are two recordings, one is archival (1930) and of poor quality while the other is excellent.

Lyrics: Po atarau E moea iho nei E haere ana Koe ki pamamao Haere ra Ka hoki mai ano Ki i te tau E tangi atu nei Now is the hour For me to say goodbye Soon you'll be sailing Far across the sea While your away Oh please remember me When you return You'll find me waiting here


Anonymous said...

A great post. But as a sad note; another reason many did not re-marry was that there were no available single males - too many had died & the returnees were often spoken for. But a great post

The Veteran said...

Thank you Adolf ... what say you to the scene at 1 min 11 sec into the second recording being a shot of Te Haumi Beach with the tide out (just below our place) ... that should bring back memories for you.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

You just might be right. Is that the Ngaiotonga saddle in the cloudy background?

However I can't pick the earlier scene with all the coconut palms. Looks decidedly Fijian to me.

The Veteran said...

Yes (maybe) and Yes.

Anonymous said...

Except that it is not Maori it was originally "The Swiss Cradle Song" The minister had good reason to be flabbergasted. I hate to point out others observations but the 100% wrong record deserves some respect.

Bill Kawolski

David said...

Is there nothing Australian that the KiwiBros won't try to steal from us?


Crowded House.

Swiss Cradle Song.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

To all who fail to comprehend. I did not say the song originally was Maori.

Do try and read.

And please don't try and tell me Gracie Fields, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra had smash hits with 'Swiss Cradle Song.'

Adolf Fiinkensein said...


Having scrutinised a couple of image libraries I think I can confidently say that particular scene indeed in Te Haumi beach. And yes, great memories of school picnics with lashings of watermelon icecream and hot pipis on bread and butter. Oh and chasing flounder with a screw driver. Bliss bliss bliss

Bill Kaslowski said...

To all who fail to comprehend. I did not say the song originally was Maori.

Sarah Sanders writing your lines for you?

When later I asked him if he knew the melody was from a famous NZ Maori song... is pretty much saying what you are now denying you said. You could have, and should have, had you been an educated man, asked him if he knew the melody was from an old Australian song.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...


From wiki:- "...after a tour of New Zealand, the British music critic and travel writer Clement Scott wrote the tune to the "Swiss Cradle Song"...."

Obviously the Pommy stole the song from the Maoris and sold it to an Australian publisher.

I smell a special treaty claim coming up.

The Veteran said...

Adolf ... agreed. Taken about 250 meters out from the high tide mark. As you know you can walk out there at full tide and the water will hardly cover your legs.

Anonymous said...

A beautiful mix of melody and lyrics disected by music history pedants, educated men, dickheads and Australians.
A letter advising action for copyright breaches from a Jewish law firm would complete the picture.
A big thanks to all. I just remember it as the last waltz at dances.


Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Polak Bill

It is a famous Maori song, stolen by a Pom and published in Australia. Only one in ten thousand Ockers would know the tune if they fell over it.

Now go back to you borscht or what ever it is you swim in.