The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 11 (June 1, 1930)
Rotorua in the Evening
Rotorua in the Evening.
So much for what Rotorua offers you in the daytime—no description can give you an adequate picture of it. During the evening, until recently, the visitor has found time apt to drag, but a progressive Council is now doing all it can to remedy this drawback. A good municipal band has been organised and plays regularly in the summer months. Christmas week in particular is the merriest week in the year. Beginning on the 24th December the carnival spirit sets in and, waxing faster and more furious as the week goes on, culminates on New Year's Eve in four hours of riotous fun. Mock Courts hold omnipotent sway, spotlight waltzes thrill the young and romantic, the streets reverberate with the stirring music of the band and, finally, the fun is capped by a grand procession through all the principal streets. And mark you, this is not merely a local carnival—like everything else in Rotorua it is thoroughly cosmopolitan, globe trotters gaily rubbing shoulders with local residents. The aim of the Council is to make the evenings interesting not only at Christmas, but at all other times of the year. There are two picture shows, there is a library well stocked with popular novels and magazines which can be borrowed by the visitor for a trifling sum, and efforts are being made to persuade the Maoris to stage regularly big, open-air performances.
The Maoris already hold indoor concerts almost every night in the week. From lack of interest you may not at first be very keen to go, page 53 but like everybody else you will very quickly succumb to the charming smiles and winning salesmanship of the Maori women who every concert night visit all the accommodation houses and parade the streets securing their audiences. In this connection it must be remarked that the Maoris are endowed with a most acute business instinct. In addition to organising their concerts very efficiently, they leave no stone unturned to make them a success from the point of view of box office receipts. The hall is modest in size and there are two prices: 3s. 3d. for comfortable plush seats at the front and 2s. for chairs at the back. The audiences are an interesting study in themselves. At the very first item you are transported into another and fascinating world. For the most accomplished European singers cannot exercise the spell which the rich, resonant voices of these Maori singers and their dreamy, swaying melodies weave over every single hearer. No less enchanting is the celebrated Poi dances—a gentle, rhythmic swaying of the body backwards and forwards and from side to side, the canoe poi being particularly effective. Then, too, is the haka performed with the old-time vigour and ferocity of the cannibal Maori, while the enthusiasm with which the other items are given, the robust smiles of the maturer Maoris, and the laughing eyes of the beautiful girls all awaken in you an admiration for the Maori that will remain forever.