Māori Hi-Five Profile

Chris Bourke
21 May 2013

An evening with a showband was a mix of musical comedy and cabaret, tourist variety act, vaudeville show and rock and roll dance.

The showbands could perform soulful ballads then a satiric skit, make fun of their Māori culture while also educating the audience, while always displaying dazzling virtuosity yet looking spontaneous. The Māori Hi-Five is considered the first true Māori showband: The group exemplified the genre.

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From left: Mary Nimmo, Kawana Pohe, Paddy Te Tai, Peter Wolland, Robert (Hemi) Te Miha, Solly Pohatu and (front) Wes Epae. This photo originally appeared as the cover of the 1963 Maori Hi-Five EP, released on Odeon in Sweden and HMV in New Zealand. 
1963 tour programme
Photo credit: Chris Bourke Collection
Hi-Five Mambo, from left: Jimmy Rivers, Rob Hemi, Sol Pohatu, Ike Metekingi, Costa Christie. Taken at the Cubana Club, Wellington 1958
Maori Hi-Five, Pigalle Club, London
The Hi-Five Mambo in Wellington in the early 1960s
Leedon was an Australian label owned by American promoter Lee Gordon and Australian rocker Johnny O'Keefe. The Māori Hi-Five recorded three albums for the label, with Serenade In Blue being the first, issued in February 1961.
Paddy Tetai, Mary Nemmo, Wes Epae, and Solly Pohatu
Photo credit: Gisborne Photo News
Gisborne being entertained by King Solomon Pohatu
Photo credit: Gisborne Photo News
The Māori Hi Five in Nelson, 1963
Photo credit: Nelson Photo News
My Blue Heaven
The Māori Hi-Five in June 1964 in Hong Kong with The Beatles: Paul McCartney, Wes Epae, John Lennon, Kawana Pohe, Paddy Te Tai, George Harrison, Robert Hemi Te Miha, Solly Pohatu and the local booking agent Frankie Blair. In front is the assistant manager of the Hotel Escalante. Ringo Starr joined the tour later, after having his tonsils removed in London.
The Hi-Five Mambo in Whanganui, October 1958: Ike Metekingi, Costa Christie, Jimmy Rivers, Rob Hemi, 'Fro The Pro' (a guest), and Sol Pohatu.
Photo credit: Costa Christie collection
Solly Pohatu documentary on Waka Huia, 2016
Putti Putti
Wellington, 1958: Costa Christie, left, with original Hi-Five manager Jim Anderson. Later known as "Big Jim" in Sydney's King's Cross, he was an associate of notorious nightclub operator Abe "Mr Sin" Saffron. In 1970 Anderson fatally shot a "standover man" in a Sydney nightclub. 
Photo credit: Costa Christie collection
Māori Hi-Five in Gisborne, April 1963 (L-R): Wes Epae, Mary Nimmo, Kawana Pohe, Paddy Tetai, Peter Wolland, Robert Hemi, and Solly Pohatu.
Photo credit: Gisborne Photo News
1958 (Maori) Hi-Five Mambo song list comprised mostly of Latin tunes reflecting the 1950s popularity of groups like Louis Alberto Parana and the Trio Paraguayos.
Photo credit: Costa Christie collection
The Hi-Five support a certain band in Hong Kong in June 1964
On the Australian Leedon label, the eponymous 1963 album by the Māori Hi-Five is considered their best 
Hi-Five Mambo at The Cabana Club, Wellington, 1958: Sol Pohatu, Jimmy "Junior" Rivers, Ike Metekingi, Robbie Hemi and Costa Christie
Photo credit: Costa Christie collection
The 1963 single Putti Putti, released in the UK on EMI's Columbia label
The 1960 double A-sided single Oasis / American Patrol on the Australian Rex label
Hippy Hippy Shake
The Māori Hi-Five in London with their Roller, 1962
Poi Poi
The Maori Hi-Five on the cover of Te Ao Hou, June 1963. 
Photo credit: Ans Westra

In December 1961 in Disc magazine, producer George Martin is quoted as saying "I have just signed an outfit that does sound different – the Maori Hi Fives. I think they’ll be a sensation". Sadly nothing seems to have come of this.







Ike Metekingi

Solomon Pohatu

Rob (Hemi) Te Miha

Fred Tira

Junior Tuatara

Paddy Te Tai

Costa Christie

Kawana Pohe

Tuki Whittaker

Peter Wolland

Wes Epae

Charlotte Pohe

Mere Nimmo