Kiri Te Kanawa: Born on March 6, 1944

The internationally famed soprano, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, was born Claire Mary Teresa Rawstron in the small New Zealand seaside town of Gisborne, where Captain James Cook first made landfall. Just at the edge of the international date line, it prides itself as the first city in the world to greet the sun. Here, the birth child of a native Maori man and a woman of European extraction was adopted at five weeks of age by a local couple, Tom and Nell Te Kanawa, he also a Maori and she with family ties to the British Isles. The Te Kanawas named their daughter Kiri, the Maori word for bell. She was to be their only child.

Her first performances were on a little stage jerry-rigged in the Te Kanawa’s house, complete with a curtain; “the curtains would come back,” she recalled, “and I’d get up and sing.” Without a television in the home, music and singing quickly became the primary entertainment. But although her mom played piano, from early on, Kiri eschewed command performances: “I was rather sort of miffy about it even then. I’d only sing when I felt like it.”

One thought on “Kiri Te Kanawa: Born on March 6, 1944

  1. Pingback: March 6~ | The Misty Miss Christy

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