Howard Morrison

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This article is about the New Zealand entertainer. For the toy maker, see Howard J. Morrison. For the British lawyer and judge, see Howard Morrison (lawyer).
Howard Morrison
Howard Morrison 1993.jpg
Morrison in 1993
Born Howard Leslie Morrison
(1935-08-18)18 August 1935
Rotorua, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
Died 24 September 2009(2009-09-24) (aged 74)
Rotorua, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
Nationality New Zealand
Occupation Entertainer
Spouse(s) Lady Kuia (Rangiwhata Ann Manahi)
Children Donna, Richard and Howard Jr

Sir Howard Leslie Morrison OBE, (18 August 1935 – 24 September 2009) was a New Zealand entertainer. From 1964 until his death in 2009 he was one of New Zealand's leading television and concert performers.

Early life[edit]

Of Māori (Te Arawa), Irish, and Scottish descent,[1] Morrison was born to Temuera Leslie Morrison, a Māori All Black who worked for the Māori Affairs Department, and Kahurangi Morrison (née Gertrude Harete Davidson) who was known for her work in culture and entertainment.[2]

He grew up in Rotorua and in Ruatahuna near Waikaremoana. He attended a "native school" in the Urewera before going to Te Aute College and Rotorua Boys' High School.[3][4][5]

After leaving school he had a variety of manual jobs including survey chainman, electricity meter reader and storeman at the Whakatu freezing works.


Morrison and his three surviving sisters, Judy Tapsell, Rene Mitchell and Linda Morrison, lost their oldest brother Laurie in 1974. Another brother, Charlie, died in infancy and youngest sister Atareta Maxwell died suddenly in January 2006 from a heart attack. Their mother Kahurangi died in 1995, and their father Temuera when they were young. [6]


In 1955 Morrison assembled vocal groups to entertain at Rotorua rugby club socials. In 1956 he was a member of the successful Aotearoa Concert Party that toured Australia. In this group was Gerry Merito who with Morrison formed the Ohinemutu Quartet which was later renamed the Howard Morrison Quartet. Other original members of the quartet were Morrison's brother Laurie and his cousin John, but they left and were replaced by Wi Wharekura and Noel Kingi[7] who were fixtures in the quartet at its heights. In 1966 he appeared in the John O'Shea film Don't Let It Get You. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s he was the spokesman for Bic products such as lighters and pens, appearing in many television commercials for the brand.

The hymn "How Great Thou Art" became Morrison's de facto theme song for the latter part of his career, after a recording of it by Morrison became one of the country's biggest selling singles.

Honours and achievements[edit]

In 1970 he received the Benny Award from the Variety Artists Club of New Zealand Inc.[8]

In 1976 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for work with young Māori, and he was knighted in 1990 for his services to entertainment.

In March 2006 Morrison was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Waikato, joining such alumni as Janet Frame, Dame Malvina Major, Hare Puke, Tui Adams, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Neil and Tim Finn, Michael King, Margaret Mahy and Rotorua historian Don Stafford in receiving the award.[9]

On 14 October 2009 Morrison was selected by Te Aute College to be a part of its 1st XV leaders group at a function at Te Papa in Wellington. The honour is given to former pupils over the age of 55 who have made a significant contribution to Māori society. Morrison attended Te Aute College from 1949 to 1952.[10][11]


Morrison died in his sleep from a heart attack and was found by one of his grandchildren on taking him his morning cup of tea. He died in Ohinemutu and lay in state at in Tamatekapua, the premier meeting house of Te Arawa at Te Papaiouru Marae in Rotorua.[12] He was survived by his wife Rangiwhata Ann Manahi (born 1937,[13] married 1957) known as Lady Kuia, two sons and a daughter Donna Mariana Grant, Richard Te Tau Morrison and Howard Morrison Jr.[14] He was also uncle to movie actor Temuera Morrison and kapa haka performer Taini Morrison.

Attendees at his tangihanga (funeral) included Rotorua mayor Kevin Winter, Chinese ambassador Zhang Limin, Sir Michael Fay, MPs Tariana Turia, Georgina te Heuheu, Hekia Parata, Steve Chadwick and Rotorua MP Todd McClay, then former MP Winston Peters,[15] Te Puni Kokiri chief executive Leith Comer[13] and Māori king Tuheitia Paki.

Morrison was buried at Kauae Cemetery in Ngongotaha, Rotorua. His grave lies alongside those of his parents and other close whānau.[16]


"The Howard Morrison Quartet"[edit]

Singles produced by Zodiac Records

  • Po Kare Kare Ana 1959
  • Hawaiian Cowboy Song 1960

Singles produced by La Gloria Records

Other Releases

  • Produced by Zodiac Records
  • The Fabulous Howard Morrison Quartet 1960

The Battle Of The Waikato 1960

Produced by La Gloria Records

  • Four Popular Maori Songs Volume one 1960
  • Return Of A Legend Joe Brown 1975
  • Power Game 1969
  • Born Free 1968
  • Take Ten 1967
  • Mind If We Sing? 1962
  • Hits Of The Road 1962
  • Alive! Need We Say More? 1962
  • Maori Songs 1962
  • Pot Pourri 1960
  • On Stage Off Stage 1960
  • These Were Their Finest 1960


  • This Is My Life 2009, album[17]
  • Ol' Brown Eyes 2002, 2CD compilation Golden Songs of Sir Howard & The Fabulous Howard Morrison Quartet
  • Give Your Love - On Stage Off Stage 1998[3]
  • This Is My Life 1990
  • Live In Concert 1989
  • Songs Of New Zealand 1985
  • Howard Morrison 1982
  • Morrison Magic 1979


  • Once in a Lifetime: He kotuku rerenga tahi (DVD, 2009)[18][19]


  1. ^ Spratt, Amanda (23 October 2005). "Howard Morrison a knight in full voice". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 28 March 2010. 
  2. ^ "Sir Howard Morrison obituary". 24 September 2009. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Sir Howard Morrison > Bio". Retrieved 29 March 2010. 
  4. ^ "Howard Morrison". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. New Zealand History online. 9 October 2009. Retrieved 29 March 2010. 
  5. ^ Ihaka, James; Gay, Edward (29 September 2009). "Sir Howard Morrison laid to rest". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  6. ^ Nicholas, Jill (28 September 2009). "Morrison sisters' anguish". Rotorua Daily Post. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  7. ^ "The Howard Morrison Quartet". Te Ao Hou. March 1962. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  8. ^ "Variety Artists Club of NZ Benny Award Information and Recipients". 
  9. ^ Taylor, Cherie (10 September 2009). "Sir Howard outsells Michael Jackson!". Rotorua Daily Post. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  10. ^ Donoghue, Tim (15 October 2009). "Lady Morrison says thanks". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  11. ^ Donoghue, Tim (14 October 2009). "Sir Howard in old school's special Ist XV". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  12. ^ Taipari, Greg (25 September 2009). "Rotorua mourns". Rotorua Daily Post. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  13. ^ a b Welham, Keri (26 September 2009). "Walk for Sir Howard Morrison's widow on first day of tangi". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  14. ^ Tahana, Yvonne; The New Zealand Herald Staff and New Zealand Press Association (24 September 2009). "Sir Howard Morrison 'totara' of entertainment". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  15. ^ "Rain eases as mourners gather for Sir Howard". New Zealand Press Association. 27 September 2009. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  16. ^ Francis, Clio (30 September 2009). "Haere ra, Sir Howard Morrison, haere ra". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  17. ^ "This Is My Life". Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  18. ^ Morrison, Howard; Pujji, Jasmine; Wilcox, Julian; Harawira, Wena. Once in a Lifetime: He kotuku rerenga tahi (DVD). Auckland, New Zealand: Rajon Music. 
  19. ^ "Maori Television Honours Sir Howard Morrison" (Press release). Māori Television. 24 September 2009. Retrieved 21 August 2010. 

External links[edit]