George (Hori) Mataiawhea Tait

Ngāi Tūhoe, Te Arawa

1923 - 1981

He was born in Ruatoki and later lived in Auckland where he worked as a cultural officer for the Māori Affairs Department. He was a poet and composer of waiata and observed that although "the compositions [were] his, the thoughts and the words used to express them represent the wisdom and heritage handed down to us from our tupuna." He wrote a play called Hunga Ho, which was produced by Don Selwyn and was performed by the Te Whanau company at the South Pacific Festival in New Guinea. Tait wrote the script for the re-enactment of the founding of Rotorua and also wrote a traditional song for Te Arawa for the town’s centennial celebrations. His song "The Bridge" made recording history for singer Deane Waretini when it became the largest selling single in New Zealand. He was a kaumatua of the Māori Artists and Writers’ Society and was an elder of Te Arawa. Rev. Kingi Ihaka and Tait wrote the Māori text of the play "Te Waka Karaitiana" which was written and compiled by Brian Kirby and performed on the occasion of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s visit to the Turangawaewae Marae.

Biographical sources

  • "He Tau Whakaaroa Aroha Kia Ngāti Whatua." Te Kaea: The Māori Magazine 1 (1979): 21.
  • Edwards, Louis. "Entertainment Seen As Cultural Bridge." Tu Tangata 5 (1982): 28
  • Tu Tangata 13 (1983): 9.


  • "He Koha Kii Na Taku Kuia/A Gift Of Words From My Grandmother." In Māori with English. Te Kaea: The Māori Magazine 1 (1979): 22. Rpt. in The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Poetry/Ngā Kupu T˚tohu o Aotearoa. Ed. Miriama Evans, Harvey McQueen and Ian Wedde. Auckland, N.Z.: Penguin, 1989. 486-488.
  • The words of a grandmother speaking to her grandchild of its origins, ancestors, and the need to consume the knowledge of the Pakeha like ‘an appetiser’ before the main course which is ‘the wisdom of [the] ancestors’.
  • "He Tangata Noa/Mere Man." In Māori and English. Te Kaea: The Māori Magazine 1 (1979): 22.
  • The speaker noting the protective gaze of the sky and the embrace of Papatuanuku, mourns over the despoliation of the ‘forest of Tane - and the /Children of Tangaroa/ [which have been] Raped defiled by mere man.’
  • "Takina Atu." Te Hikoi Ki Waitangi 1984. [Otara], N.Z.: Waitangi Action Committee, Aug 1984. 48. In Māori.
  • Other

  • "Okiwa." Koru: The New Zealand Māori Artists and Writers Annual Magazine 2 (1978): 30.
  • "Mere Man." Te Kaea 1 (1979): 22.
  • Performing Arts

  • Hunga Ho. Prod. Don Selwyn. Te Whanui Company. New Guinea.
  • Produced by Don Selwyn and performed at the South Pacific Festival in New Guinea by Te Whanau company, (Tu Tangata 5 (1982): 28).
  • Traditional

  • "He Tau Whakaaroa Aroha Kia Ngāti Whatua." Te Kaea: The Māori Magazine 1 (1979): 21. In Māori.


  • Edwards, Louis. "Entertainment seen as cultural bridge." Tu Tangata 5 (Apr./May 1982): 28.
  • This article, largely composed of quotations from George Tait taken from an interview between Edwards and Tait shortly before Tait’s death in 1981, records Tait’s song writing, interest in cultural relations as opposed to race relations and his conviction that Māori need to keep on creating.