Festival Mainstage, Founders Heritage Park, Nelson

18/10/2014 - 19/10/2014

Glenroy Auditorium, The Dunedin Centre, 1 Harrop Street, Dunedin

10/10/2014 - 11/10/2014

Nelson Arts Festival 2014

Dunedin Arts Festival 2014

Production Details

The creative love child of Prince Tui Teka and Flight of the Conchords, the Modern Māori Quartet brings back the nostalgic era of the Māori Volcanics, the Twin Tikis and many more from Māori showband’s golden age.

These four good-looking, hip swaying and suave Māori guys bring the past into the present, they croon old and new school classics with a fresh ‘golden syrup on fried bread’ twist. 

Maaka Pohatu, Matariki Whatarau, James Tito and Francis Kora are Toi Whakaari/NZ Drama School graduates who have established highly successful careers in theatre, film and music. This is the new face of Māori showbands – handsome, hilarious and harmonious. You’d be mad to miss this one. 

“The Modern Māori Quartet radiate good times. (Oh, to find yourself at a party with a couple of guitars and these guys belting out songs.) There’s no doubt this quartet can entertain with song and dance but this show delves deeper weaving heritage, language and history into its feel-good vibe.” – METRO

Hear Art and Alchemy by local performer Debra Hardcastle from 6.30pm on Sat 18, and Mosaic Choir at 6pm on Sun 19, Granary Festival Café. No Charge. 

Glenroy Auditorium
10 & 11 October, 8pm

VENUE: Festival Mainstage, Founders Heritage Park  
DATE: Sat 18 Oct, 8.30pm; Sun 19 Oct, 7.30pm
DURATION: 110 mins including interval
PRICE: $44 | UNDER 18: $20

1hr 50 mins (incl. interval)


Review by Melanie Stewart 19th Oct 2014

Billed as the new face of Māori showbands, handsome, hilarious and harmonious, The Modern Māori Quartet is entertainment at its best.

These four performers – James Tito, Mataraki Whaturau, Francis Kora and Maaka Pohatu – all Toi Whakari trained actors, bounce onto the stage and hold my attention for the full 110 minutes of performance and leave me wanting more.

Their repertoire includes old favourites like ‘Pokarekare Ana’, ‘Now Is The Hour’ in te reo, popular hits such as Elvis’s ‘Blue Swede Shoes’ and Rod Stewart’s ‘I Don’t Want To Talk About It’ through to current hits such as Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’ and – a real crowd pleaser – their very own version of Lorde’s ‘Royal’.

Their performance ranges from clear, heart-felt vocal solos to powerful four-part harmonies, all sung with skill, passion and often humour. This is generally accompanied by acoustic guitar with the occasional addition of the bass guitar and Cajon. Interspersed with the singing, we are entertained with some hilarious banter, some slick dance moves, including a Maori Quartet version of the Haka, and an Audience Hula.

Tito once said in an interview, “We are actors who sing, not singers who act.” However, if they are not having a good time then their acting skills must be sublime as their enthusiasm for their craft and infectious laughter give me the impression that they are enjoying themselves as much as I am. They sing tributes to the show bands of the 50s, Howard Morrison, the fallen soldiers of the Māori Battalion, the Māori garage party, and most importantly their (and our) Mums.

There are mistakes. Some pitching problems at times, the saga of the falling guitar which results in a fit of giggles from Francis and Maaka which consequently has the audience in stitches, a flat battery in a guitar and a false start. These, however, far from being distracting, draw the audience into the feeling that this is indeed a, rather large, Māori garage party and the audience are invited friends. When the giggles subside the Aroha medley, complete with actions, proves to be a favourite. 

Go see these guys if you get the chance. Your troubles will be forgotten for the night and you will leave smiling, guaranteed. 

As part of the opening weekend of the Nelson Arts Festival this show has set a high benchmark for the shows that follow. The venue looks fantastic and the atmosphere pleasant. We are treated to the Winds Of Time – a light and sound show – projected onto the Founders Windmill on our way out the gate, and can purchase a slice of toast with Pics peanut butter to end a wonderful and heart-warming evening.


Make a comment

A winning formula

Review by Brenda Harwood 12th Oct 2014

A major highlight of Arts Festival Dunedin’s first weekend has been the delightful Modern Maori Quartet

Last night, a capacity audience at the Glenroy Auditorium were utterly charmed by these four suave, cheeky and immensely talented young musicians/actors.

Maaka Pohatu and bandmates Matariki Whatarau, James Tito and Francis Kora take the concept of the popular Maori showbands of the 1960s and 1970s and update them with a modern Maori sensibility and infectious humour. Think Howard Morrison Quartet meets Flight of the Concords, or as they describe themselves “golden syrup on warm Maori bread”.

The Modern Maori Quartet‘s performance last night focused mainly on the close vocal harmonies woven by the four singers’ rich and powerful voices, accompanied mostly by guitar, with occasional expansion to add bass and percussion. It is a winning formula, allowing the fantastic vocals and the men’s personalities to shine. 

The Modern Maori Quartet rarely simply stand and sing, their performance includes choreographed movement (in the style of the Supremes etc), and is livened throughout by comedy and banter with the audience. The overall feeling is a cosy sense of sitting around the campfire having a great time with some hard-case musical mates. 

Another wonderful aspect of the show was the extraordinary range of songs given the Modern Maori Quartet treatment – from Maori classics such as ‘Haere Mai’ and ‘Pokarekareana’, to Kiwi favourites such as ‘Ten Guitars’, hits like Rod Stewart’s ‘I Don’t Wanna Talk About It’, and even a hilarious and brilliant version of Lorde’s ‘Royals’. The delighted audience was even treated to some Beyoncé-style dancing. 

In reviving the Maori show band tradition with their own modern twist, the Modern Maori Quartet have hit upon a winning formula. Their warmth and humour, added to their undoubted musical talent, make an evening in their company an uplifting and thoroughly enjoyable experience. 

The smiles on the faces of audience members at the show’s conclusion said it all. 



Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council
Waiematā Local Board logo