David Bowie makes Porirua marae visit

Pop star David Bowie gets a translation of a Maori welcome speech from Porirua marae elder Mark Metekingi, while to the ...
Fairfax NZ

Pop star David Bowie gets a translation of a Maori welcome speech from Porirua marae elder Mark Metekingi, while to the right, Taukiri Thomason does the same for Bowie's long-time companion Coco Schwab.

David Bowie, who died on Monday, made a rare public visit to Porirua on his Serious Moonlight tour, as ANDREA O'NEIL reported in our 150 Years of News series last April.

An alien creature landed in Porirua in 1983 – or rather, a Starman.

Pop superstar David Bowie made a rare public appearance during his Serious Moonlight tour at Takapuwahia Marae in Porirua, on November 23. The singer had asked to visit a marae while in New Zealand, and Ngati Toa was only too happy to welcome him, even if some elders were lukewarm towards his music.

David Bowie is accepted onto Takapuwahia Marae in Porirua.
Fairfax NZ

David Bowie is accepted onto Takapuwahia Marae in Porirua.

A kaumatua was dispatched to brief Bowie about Maori protocol in his hotel room before the visit. The trip was a secret, but word soon got out on the Porirua grapevine, The Dominion reported the next day.

"Three hundred people packed the marae to catch a glimpse of him. About 100 local Maoris, including many children clutching cameras eager for a snapshot of their idol, waited in the cold, blustery conditions more than an hour before Bowie's 30-strong entourage arrived."

A traditional powhiri was laid on, including Ngati Toa's own Ka Mate haka, and Bowie gamely picked up the wero challenge offered, a leaf.

In return for the songs offered by the Maori hosts, he sang a song he had written for the occasion, called Waiata.

Back in the kitchens, cooks were preparing a feast: hangi-cooked pork and vegetables, puha, muttonbird, a variety of seafoods, raw and steamed fish, followed by fruit salad, steam pudding and pavlova, The Dominion reported.

"British-born Bowie, 36, appeared relaxed as he heard welcoming songs and speeches outside the meeting house. Most of the gathering then crammed inside for more speeches before beginning the huge meal."

While Down Under, Bowie also took the chance to explore Aboriginal culture in Australia, filming his Let's Dance music video with indigenous actors at Warrumbungle National Park, New South Wales.

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