Ana Matawhaura Hato
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Ana Matawhaura Hato
Ngāti Whakaue, Tūhourangi
One of New Zealand's first local recording artists, Ana Matawhaura Hato was born in 1907 in Rotorua. She grew up in Whakarewarewa, where her soprano voice was recognised and at 16 she was invited to join the concert party of Guide Rangi (Rangitiaria Dennan) singing waiata Māori in front of tribal audiences and tourists. She joined other well-known concert parties and also travelled to Australia to sing in 1925.
When the Duke and Duchess of York visited in 1927, she sang as a soloist at concerts for them in Ōhinemutu, and in duets with her cousin, tenor Deane Waretini. The sessions were recorded by the Parlophone record company visiting from Australia, and Hato and Waretini were invited to Sydney in 1929 to record more waiata for Parlophone.
Theirs were the first local commercial recordings by Māori singers and their 78 rpm discs sold in their thousands for many years. The songs they recorded have become standards: such as Pōkarekare ana, E pari rā, Hine e hine and Waiata poi.
Hato continued singing with her own concert party, and in 1941 was invited to perform on radio at the opening of flagship Auckland radio station 1ZB's new art deco building in Durham Street. In this recording of the live broadcast from the opening, you can hear the "hotu" or sobbing quality of her voice, for which she was famous. Hato first performs the waiata Whisper of Heaven – Akoako o te Rangi written by Erima Maewa Kaihau – and then she and Deane Waretini perform Alfred Hill's Home, Little Māori, Home, one of their hits from the Parlophone recordings and a song popular with the Māori Contingent soldiers of World War One.
Despite her early recording success, Hato did not become wealthy and did not release any further recordings in her lifetime. She lived in Rotorua all her life, working in various roles in the tourism industry and being involved in her local Catholic church community. She passed away due to cancer in 1953. The Parlophone recordings of Ana Hato and Deane Waretini were re-mastered and re-released in the 1990s by Kiwi Pacific Records.
Find out more about Ana Hato:
Read more about Ana Hato and hear more of her recordings on her Audioculture profile page.
Ana Hato rāua ko Deane Waretini – Legendary recordings 1927 to 1949.
Image: Broadcaster Oriwa Tahupotiki Haddon and Ana Hato. 1940. Ref: PAColl-9832-1-04. Alexander Turnbull Library.
Catalogue Reference 182848
National Commercial Broadcasting Service