Topic: Entertainment

Māori reminisce on their encounters with David Bowie

By Heta Gardiner

News broke recently of the death of 69-year-old David Bowie who lost his battle to cancer.  Bowie was a renowned musician and a stand-out entertainer around the world.  

Te Kāea reached out to some Māori who had the privilege to meet this music legend.

A legend in music.  A unique individual, in all respects. 

Missy Te Kahu from Ngāti Toa says, "It was a big thing David Bowie coming here!! Because he was so famous!"

A man who was known all over the world, in 1983 made his way to Takapūwāhia Marae upon his request to immerse himself in Māori culture. 

Te Kahu was 19 years old then, and her brother did the wero.  She vividly remembers seeing David Bowie that day. 

She says, "He wore all that make-up, he had the hair and everything, but when he came he was all dressed up in a suit, and his hair was short.  He didn't look like David Bowie, cause I wanted to see him with his mullet!"

That day, Bowie wrote an original song for his crew to sing, to show their appreciation to Māori for welcoming him. 

Bowie also performed the song, Let's Dance, with one of its main themes being anti-racism and oppression.  Something that not many celebrities were brave enough to address at that time. 

Larry Parr met David Bowie when producing the film, Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence.  He fondly remembers their arrival to the Rarotonga airport. 

Parr says, "There was an instruction that came with engaging him, and that was there was to be no press.  No publicity or anything like that.  But when we got to the airport, David refused to get off the airplane, because there was a huge gathering of people with cameras and things.  Eventually we convinced him it was okay to get off the plane, we ushered him off.  He got off the plane, walked straight past this group and nobody noticed him.  They were all waiting for Prince Tui Teka, who was also going to Rarotonga."

A special voice, an even more unique persona, one that will not be forgotten amongst Māori, and throughout the world.