Object Detail

This sepia toned photograph adhered to card features members of Reverend Frederick Augustus Bennett's cultural group in front of Te Whare Wānanga a Hatupatu at the model pa, Whakarewarewa. It probably dates from the early 1900s, possibly 1915.

This photo is probably of Frederick Bennett's Maori Opera Company and the cast and orchestra of the Maori musical play Hinemoa in 1915. An inscription on the photo, top right, probably reads Maori Operara Co.

Bennett's cultural group became the Maori Opera Company in 1915 which performed the musical play Hinemoa, written by Percy Flynn. This included a Wellington performance on 16 September 1915, for which a copy of the programme and cast list is in the Alexander Turnbull Library.

The photograph has been signed by members of the group. They read as follows (some details not clear and need to be confirmed):
Chas Archer, Miro Amohau, Pini R Haupapa, Hera Tawhai,
T. Butt, Hape, Rangi Rogers, M. Butt, Ada Mitchell, Rotohiko, Ru Kingi, Wihau Te Raihi, Mere Amohau, Rua Tawhai, S H Tarakuka, Geoffery Rogers (Tutanekai), Toby Mahima? (Tiki), Henry Abraham?, Bessie Davidson, Hapa Amohau, Hannah Riri, Ani Eruini.

The cast list from the programme in ATL is as follows:

Rev. Frederick Bennett is seated in the centre of the photo. Six men dressed in suits and ties play holding various musical instruments also feature in the photo. One of the men may be the composer and conductor of the orchestra Percy Flynn.

Members of Rev.Bennett's cultural group were chosen to star in the 1914 film Hinemoa filmed in Rotorua and telling the story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai. The is thought to be the first feature film produced in NZ.

Hera Tawhai played Hinemoa, Rua Tawhai played Tutanekai, Miro Amohau played Tiki and Tamai Amohau played Ngararanui according to promotional material for the film held by NZ Film Archive.
Production Date
Circa 1914
Accession Number



You can hear a 1962 radio Interview with director George Tarr and Hera Tawhai (Sarah Rogers) talking about making the film 'Hinemoa' here: http://www.ngataonga.org.nz/collections/catalogue/catalogue-item?record_id=221285

- Sarah Johnston

Posted on 13-07-2017 23:39:19