City of Auckland Morris Dancers

1977 to date

A Definitive Guide to the Origins of CAMD

Click on scans for full size pintable versions.

Click to enarge and print.There was a short synopis on the origins of the City of Auckland Morris Dancers at: MSN Group: NZMorrisdancing However no-one has written a definitive account of how and why the team was formed.

As a recent emigrant from the UK in 1973 I was teaching in the then cultural backwoods of Hawera, Taranaki. Attempts at forming a folk song and dance club in Hawera had not exactly succeeded not-with-standing the support of some excellent local singers such as Jack Penman and Mike Harding. But I remember that we had an amazing folk concert one night in the local high street café with guests such as Ron Craig up from Wellington.

Then in 1977 I moved up to Auckland top join the staff of St. Peter's College. In Auckland one Malcolm Clapp was already organising barn dances with the band 'Irish Stew.'

Once settled at St. Peter's College it was quickly noticed that the school had a sports pavilion ideal for folk dancing and that it could be hired. Peter Dorman and Vicky Young had been members of the Sealed Knot in the U.K. - an English Civil War re-enactment society. The Sealed Knot also promoted English Country Dancing from early editions of Playford's Dancing Master of 1651. Peter approached me with the idea of setting up a dance group to learn and demonstrate these old dances. He had some old tapes of music, mainly from 78s. Eventually this group became the AETDC or the Auckland English Traditional Dance Club (a website is being constructed).

With Malcolm Clapp's expert accordion playing the AETDC display team - mainly dancing Playford country dances as interpreted by Cecil Sharp - appeared at many local events including a Medieval Fair, many shopping centres including Queen Street on Friday nights (!!), at old people's homes, and other exotic venues such as Waiwera Thermal Resport, etc. It also rehearsed for a professional role with one Curly Delmonte (once owner of Poles Apart Folk Club). But we never got that job!! One of the more obscure gigs was on Kelly Tarlton's ship wreck museum on a tall ship. Click to enlarge and print.AETDC also promoted and ran a number of public barn dances with 'Irish Stew' or the 'Devonport Village Band' as the main band with callers Chris Brady and/or Robert Raine. One memorable dance was held in a local Central Auckand maori marae meeting house.

At this time (1977s?) Malcolm and I often talked at length (well probably argued) about country dancing v.v. morris dancing. Then the QE2, on a world cruise, docked at Auckland. I was at Devonport Folk Club that night and one 'Willum,' one of the permanent crew, gave a performance of English folk songs, well drinking songs if I remember rightly. During this he mentioned that he was a morris dancer [from Plymouth MM?] and that there was a morris team on board the QE2. I remember that he was staggering about a bit - I wasn't sure if this was the effect of being at the sea for so long or the local beer!! Anyway afterwards I invited him to come to St. Peter's College to teach some of us (AETDC members and friends) morris dancing. The next day he turned up with a ship colleague called 'Dudley' [from Derbyshire MM?] and they taught us the rudiments of the morris. We did 'Lads a Bunchum' from Adderbury using cricket stumps as sticks. The deputy head of the school was fiddling about on the cricket wicket about 50 yards away yet was quite oblivious that his cricket stumps were being used for morris dancing!!

That was the 'first' morris workshop in Auckland - well we thought so at the time. BUT I had a feeling that English emigrants must have brought the morris and country dancing over earlier. And so it proved.

During an extensive search of library catalogues I elicited that English country dancing, sword and morris dancing may indeed been taught in Auckland and elsewhere in NZ since at least the 1920s.

Apparently in the early 1920s a disciple of Cecil Sharp's, one Hilda Taylor, had been trained by him and awarded the Advanced Certificate of the EFDS. She had then emigrated to NZ. So in the 1920s she was teaching English country dancing and morris dancing in schools and also around New Zealand. There is (or was) a bronz statuette of her in the Dominion Art Gallery in Wellington (see below).

In the various library catalogues I found specific references to a magazine called 'English Folklore in Dance and Song' published in New Plymouth by one John Oliver. There were (still are) copies in Christchurch Public Library, Christchurch University Library, and the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington. Another bound set is in private ownership. The copies I have have now been scanned and uploaded to the web. They make fascinating reading.

Sometime in early 1978 and fed up with teaching kids (and having had my valuable racing bike stolen by one of them) I flew down to Christchurch for a job interview outside of teaching. Whilst there I visited the Christchurch libraries and made photocopies of the said NZ EFDS magazine. Many editions had the names and addresses of members on the front page, and I quickly ascertained that John Oliver was then living in Nelson. I diverted my return flight to visit him.

He was most welcoming. In his living room he demonstrated some Bampton stepping and talked at length about the English morris and country dancing that he had promoted in the 1930s and 1940s. When in England he had trained under Cecil Sharp and also received the Advanced Certificate of the EFDS. He was also a member of Sharp's 'Travelling Morrice' team, Cambridge Morris Men, and he also helped to run the Cambridge University Country Dance Group 'The Round.'

He gave me the ex-NZ Morris Men's kit (baldricks and bells), his copies of Sharp's Morris Books and Country Dance Books, and some copies of his 'English Folklore in Dance and Song' magazine published in the 1930s/40s. He also gave me a set of metal swords - locally produced.

But we still hadn't got a regular morris team.

Sometime in 1978 the idea was mooted for AETCD to be the first dance team to welcome the sun on May Morning on top of Mount Eden - a local Auckland dormant volcano. The first time we did this AETCD was photographed in silhouette on the top just as the sun rose. That photo was on the front page of the Auckland Star and it also formed the backdrop of the national news on NZBC that evening. We also got 't'-shirts made with the same silhouette. I still have mine (2007). A communal Sellenger's Round was danced around the trig point to finish off the morning.

This started a long run of early May mornings with breakfast in a local hotel afterwards. On subsequent years AETDC was joined by CAMD, and the ritual is still performed 30 years later (2007).

It was sometime later in 1978 that one Nigel Banallack (supposedly ex-squire of White Horse Morris in Wiltshire) phoned Malcolm with regards to starting a morris team. We visited Nigel's apartment. I remember he had a smock hanging up on the wall. He said that he had been officially appointed by Bill Rutter of the EFDSS to promote traditional folk dancing overseas. We agreed to start up a morris team with Nigel as squire and bagman. The members of this - largely drawn from AETDC - were Malcolm Clapp - muso; and dancers: Robert Raine, Heather Raine (né Culpin), Barrie Rodliffe, the Maskell family, and others whom I forget (sorry - it has been 30 years). Click to enarge and print.Nigel taught us a few dances but I cannot remember which ones.

Incidentally the team has always been of mixed gender; it was that or not dance at all.

Bearing in mind the heavy politics permeating the Auckland folk dance scene at the time, it was decided to keep the City of Auckland Morris Dancers or CAMD as the team became known, separate from AETDC - but the two teams shared just one musician. Having just one musician did create problems when there were separate gigs, but generally there was co-operation betwen the two teams, even if at times this was somewhat heated at times. That was until Swiss accordion player Henry Falkner kindly agreed to learn to play for the morris. I believe that he learnt the tunes from an early programmable calculator!! (His account of his involvement is at: MSN Group: NZMorrisdancing)

The old NZ kit was quickly superseded in favour of distinctive red tabards, half-length black trousers, and long white socks, topped with a black tri-corner hat. Meanwhile the then Mayor of Auckland, the late Sir Dove - Meyer Robinson agreed to become the patron, and the Auckland coat-of- arms was granted its use "in perpetuity," one of only two groups in the City to be accorded this honour. The original badges for the tabards were cut out of coloured felt.

Some months later the tabards were replaced by conventional morris baldricks and the circular badges displaying the coat-of-arms on the front were screen printed.

Click to enarge and print.Due to various inter-personal issues Nigel Bannallack was voted out of being squire and bagman and he left the team after a few months. Then we had news that an experienced morris dancer from Essex - one Guy Mowat [ex-Chelmsford MM?] - was emigrating to NZ. We decided to dance him into the country. Malcolm who was working for the Council at the time borrowed a van. And we all turned up to dance in the arrivals area. The Auckland Airport Authorities forbade us, however in true morris spirit we turned up and danced anyway. [Roy Dommett has opined that "the morris should be disrespectful, but not disreputable"!!].

Click to enarge and print.Guy was a regular morris dancer (ex-Chelmsford I think) and was quickly elected as the new squire of CAMD but to be honest I can't remember anything that he taught us except maybe 'Knuckles A-Kimbo' and 'Upton on Severn' from Chelmsford MM. His lovely wife Elaine was an expert  clog dancer.

For one memorable weekend we held a festival of workshops with Guy teaching morris, and Elaine teaching clog (in the kitchen). I think that this was at St. Peter's. [Eventually Guy and Elaine left NZ to sail to Australia, but I heard that they got ship-wrecked somewhere off the eastern coast of Oz.]

I remember that in 1978 many of us Auckland dancers piled down to Wellington for an amazing Folk Festival. I also remember doing a long sword dance at Wellington Railway Station when saying goodbye to a contingent from somewhere. I believe that Robert Raine was driving our minibus back to Auckland with his full morris kit on including bells and baldricks to the amusement of all whenever we stopped for food or a loo break!!

In 1979 I initiated a Folk Dance Summer School in Palmerston North. These were regular features of the NZ Society in the 1940s. The inspiration for ours was from reports in John Oliver's magazine. At this we had at least one morris workshop, country dance workshops by the ladies of Christchurch CDC (incl. Betty Moon, Kennah Moor, Nancy Page), sword dancing and international dancing. See here for Google video of the Christchurch CDC ladies. I think only one revival Folk Dance Summer School was ever held in the 1970s. But one Irish dance teacher one Joan Prior may have organised another in the 1980s.

The first 'animal' character that CAMD had was a unicorn called Austin. I'm not sure if he is still around. He was / is now complemented by a huge fluffy dragon (whose name escapes me) that was a 10'th birthday present to the side. The photo above is of Austin and friend.

In about 1986 CAMD celebrated its 10'th anniversary with a morris tour and a party. I flew down from the U.K. especially for this. I don't remember much of the tour - jet lag and beer had its toll - but I do remember the 'original' founding team including myself dancing 'Princess Royal, Abingdon' in the original tabards at the party. I guess that this was the last time the tabard kit was seen out. I also remember that during the day a somewhat clapped out coach was hired and the morris tour involved dancing on the summit of 10 volcanoes around the Auckland area. The coach engine boiled over at one stage due to the front grill being covered with a 'CAMD 10'th Anniversary' banner!! And after one stand one Henry muso. disappeared into a loo without telling anyone and got left behind carrying his heavy accordion when the communal coach left.

I'm not sure how the team got on after late 1979; I'd left to go back to the U.K. by then. So I leave it to others to complete the story. But I do find it amazing that CAMD is STILL dancing and even has a junior side about to take the reigns. It must be about to celebrate its 30'th anniversary!!

Chris Brady ex-CAMD (Sept. 2007)


Notes on a first NZ Morris Team

Early Morris in New Zealand

Researchers of early dance in NZ may think that during the European settlement of the country in the 1800s that this was in a cultural and musical vacuum. However the music scene was far reaching and varied ranging from formal to informal. Many pianos were brought out in the emigrant sailing ships, brass bands were formed, local orchestras played concerts, and quadrilles and other social dances were enjoyed everywhere. The verandahs of the colonial houses were ideal for country dances, and the shanties (local bars or pubs) were ideal for step dancing especially in Irish style. For a complete description of music and dance in early NZ I thoroughly recommend "The Oxford History of New Zealand Music by Thomson, John Mansfield."

There are tantalising snippets of information about the very early history of the morris in New Zealand. Roy Dommett - in his 1979 lectures at: states:

"Now, Percy Manning lived in Oxford presumably as a don (he must have been a don) and he was an antiquarian. He suddenly realised that there were things to do and he employed what was euphemistically known as a geologist assistant (the people who knew him said he was cad). He was a man called Carter who was paid to go walking through the Cotswolds looking for Morris relics. He found pipe and tabors, the mace, which was sort of platform of flowers which was sometimes carried in the Morris, swords, cake tins (I think he bought one of the original Bampton cake tins). He also interviewing dancers, getting lists of names of people who danced, details of the costume, whether people were alive, what happened to them. That's how you discover that at about 1870 quite a few Morris sides emigrated en-bloc to New Zealand."

Unfortunately it appears that only a few - especially one Dave Barnes in Wellington - has shown any interest in researching the old newspapers for references to these immigrants. If an entire side emigrated then they would surely have danced on the ship and continued to dance when they got there? AND if whole sides emigrated to New Zealand, what about to Australia too? Maybe there are references in local newspapers or the in old copies of the 'New Zealand Graphic'?

But recent (Sept. 2007) email correspondance with morris dancer David Wintle has brought to light some very interesting research. He says:

"I imagine you probably have all this stuff, but if you haven't it might help you to fill out some of the detail of early morris - or nearly early morris - in NZ.

From Keith Chandler's "Ribbons, Bells and Squeaking Fiddles", p216:

"At Idbury, for example, dancing ceased owing to the emigration of the team leader to New Zealand" ... "A man named Bayliss who had acted as fool for the Rissington morris set sailed for New Zealand; while Richard Hedges, formerly the leader of the Shipton-under-Wychwood team, was following the same route when he became a casualty on the Fitzpatrick when she sank off the Cape of Good Hope in 1874. His married sons and grandsons had accompanied him, thus removing the possibility of any future involvement of that particular branch of the Hedges family with the Shipton morris side."

"The Idbury man is named in Keith's "Morris Dancing in the English South Midlands 1660-1900: A Chronological Gazzetteer", p.177-8 as one Tomms, probably William Tomms, born 1829. Bayliss is known only by his surname.

David opines: "I suspect that the Shipton story is what lies behind Roy Dommett's assertion that sides emigrated to NZ en masse. Unfortunately, this particular group didn't make it. There is a memorial on the green at Shipton commemorating the Fitzpatrick didaster. I made a particular point of seeking it out when the One Day Wonders danced there some years ago. To me it's one of those might-have-been stories. We don't have the Shipton dances, but if the whole family had survived to step off the ship at the other end of the journey, we might have had both them and a NZ tradition."

David goes on to state: "I found the following website:"

It describes itself as: "English Assisted Immigrants - 1870's (A-L)"

And he goes on to say:

"The following names are indexed from "The Farthest Promised Land: English villagers, New Zealand immigrants of the 1870s" by Professor Rollo Arnold of Victoria University, Wellington.This is a study of the English villagers who were a major element in the assisted immigration of the 1870s. Chapter 2 of this book is an excellent summary of the depressed condition of English agricultural workers by 1870.

"I don’t know much detail about the history, but it looks as though it wasn’t just the depression that made people decide to emigrate; there is a reasonable proportion of union officials amongst the emigrants, so perhaps "troublemakers" were [also] encouraged to leave.

"If you look through it you’ll see plenty of people who emigrated from the Wychwood area as well as other surrounding villages, and many of them have the same family names as morris dancers listed by Keith Chandler. Sure enough, the Hedges are there:

HEDGES     Henry         30, AL +w,   Cospatrick 1874, lost by fire   131
HEDGES     John          24, AL +w,   Cospatrick 1874, lost by fire   131
HEDGES     Richard       56, Shipton, Cospatrick 1874, lost by fire   131
HEDGES     Sarah      w of Richd +4s, Cospatrick 1874, lost by fire   131

"Because of the many family connections it’s pretty safe to suppose that some of the other immigrants must have been morris dancers, and even more of them must have had a working knowledge of the morris. However the only other person who I can identify with any confidence as an actual morris dancer recorded by Keith Chandler is:

FRANKLIN   Lawrence      53, Milton-u-W, to Hawkes Bay, 1874 + p130   117

"Lawrence Franklin is listed by Keith on p.192 of the Gazzetteer as a Milton dancer, born 1829, an agricultural labourer, not found in any British census after 1871 and as having died some time after 1874.

"The more one goes into this (and I’ve only been digging for a day or two) the more one is led to believe that there must have been enough dancers coming to NZ in the 1870s to make several viable sides, people thrown together in cramped ships, bored out of their minds with little to occupy them, probably people who already knew each other and knew of each other as dancers. Surely they must have got together and danced – mustn’t they?"

Additionally David mentions that whilst there is nothing specific in the second list: there are plenty of morris family surnames.

Finally David mentions another interesting area for further research.

He says: "You might be interested in this. I found it on

"This references two books: Arnold, Rollo (1981) "That Farthest Promised Land", Victoria University Press, Wellington, NZ and Simpson, Tony (1997) "The Immigrants", Godwit Publishing Ltd, Auckland, NZ. Also an article written by Duncan Waugh and the late Tom McQuay ... entitled "A Determined Emigrant" which includes part of the annual report of the Medical Officer of Health for Oxfordshire in 1873 describing an outbreak of fever in Ascott-under-Wychwood following a "tragic and abortive attempt to emigrate to America."


"Eli's father, William, was an Ascott woodman, whose first wife, Lucy Harris had died in childbirth forty years earlier. His second wife, Eli's mother, was Jemima Moss and the brother mentioned in the article was probably 15 year old Charles, who was living with his mother in the 1871 Census. Eli's three children were Elizabeth, Ellen and Eli. Evidently little Eli also died of typhus in February 1874.

"It seems that at some stage, probably after February, Eli went to work as a groom on the Nightingale farm, in Bishampton, Worcestershire, where he met Jane Malins, "eloped" with her back to Ascott-under-Wychwood, married her and together with Ellen left for NZ on the clipper ship "Crusader", which left Plymouth on September 26, 1874. Eli's daughter Elizabeth was left behind with her maternal grandparents, William and Maria Osman in Burford.

"Eli and Jane arrived in NZ , December 31 1874, after a journey of 97 days. They went on to have 11 boys and one girl.

"Altogether, a party of 101 Oxfordshire emigrants, led by George Allington, left on this sailing and some of the other Ascott-under-Wychwood families on that particluar trip were Eli's brother Frederick, his wife Mary (another Ascott Martyr also imprisoned with her baby) and their six children; Eli's half-brother Edward; Peter Honeybone, his wife Miilicent and two children. Peter is Fanny Honeybone's (the youngest Ascott Martyr) brother; and John and Caroline Timms with six children."

"The Ascot(t) martyrs were 16 women who were imprisoned for working for the Agricultural Workers' Union in 1873. Again there is a monument on the village green, an octagonal seat around a tree. Once again, I saw it while on a 'One Day Wonders' tour many years ago.

"It seems as though many of the "martyrs'" families later emigrated to NZ. I'm not sure whether that was entirely voluntary or whether they were made unwelcome back home. The names are once again morris families - Pratley, Moss, Honeybone, Timms."

Finally David opines:

I don't think I can do much more from here (UK) than I have done towards looking at NZ morris (it was only the result of a bit of idle wilfing) but if perhaps someone is stimulated by this to track down some of those names in parish records and censuses at the NZ end, it might produce interesting results. For example, if it could be proved that groups of morris families settled together, that might suggest a context for a 19th-century NZ morris. That would narrow down the search for photos or local newspaper reports. Alas, it's all far too late to get any actual dances.

Thank you for providing me with the stimulus and the means for an enjoyable and (I hope) useful few hours of morris-related surfing.

David Wintle 

hilda-taylor1.jpg (601133 bytes)So now to the documented references to English country dancing and morris dancing in New Zealand in the early 1920s. Apparently at that time a disciple of Cecil Sharp's, one Hilda Taylor, had been trained by him and awarded the Advanced Certificate of the EFDS. She had then emigrated to NZ. So in the 1920s she was teaching English country dancing and morris dancing at schools and around New Zealand. There is (or was) a bronz statuette of her in the Dominion Art Gallery in Wellington (see photo).

Then in the 1930s/1940s there was a huge rise in English country and morris dancing with the arrival of one John Oliver. In England Cambridge Morris Men and Cecil Sharp's 'Travelling Morrice' were central to the revival of Sharp-style morris dancing and country dancing there. John Oliver (far right in photo) was a member of both teams and trained under Sharp. He was a New Zealander attending Cambridge University.

When John returned to N.Z. he was instrumental in furthering the English country dancing including a men's morris and sword dance team during the 1930s/40s. That was probably the very first morris team in New Zealand (until documentary evidence is discovered from earlier newspaper reports).

By the 1950s it all seemed to die out, except for English country dance clubs in Christchurch and Timaru.

In the 1970s, with a feeling that there SHOULD have been some folk activities in N.Z. brought over by the many thousands of English immigrants, and after much research in the various public library catalogues, I discovered that John was still alive and living in Nelson. And so having had to fly to Chrstchurch for a job interview I diverted my return fight to visit him. It was like striking gold. He was most welcoming and he loaned me an amount of kit and material which subsequently helped to set up the City of Auckland Morris and indeed their first kit was the old NZ MM kit of the 1940s!!

nz-morris-1940.jpg (245299 bytes)Apparently there was a Courtney Archer in the 1940s team, who was a miller in Christchurch. He owned Archer's Flour Mills at Rangiora. He had a black & white movie film of the team dancing in the 1940s but I think that this got destroyed. In the late 1970s I offered to pay to have it restored but he never replied. Various photos and articles of the morris are described in the magazine 'English Folk Lore in Dance and Song' published in New Plymouth by John Oliver during the 1940s. I believe that Christchurch and Auckland Public Libraries have copies, as well as the Ralph Vaughan William Library at C#H in London. There were 14 editions.

Cecil Sharp-style folk dance and song was very much the vogue during the 1940s in NZ. The NZ Branch of the EFDSS was the very first overseas official branch. Indeed there were more English country dance clubs in most of the towns in NZ than there are Scottish Country dance clubs now!! The clubs were mainly of women, who danced in long skirts and white plimsoles. They danced to EFDSS 78rpm records. They only ever danced EFDSS 'official' dances - that is those dances published by Sharp in the Country Dance Books, Morris Books, and Sword Book. They totally ignored the social quadrilles and old time ballroom dances that pesisted in Australia into the mid-1900s.

I guess the early 1950s newspaper photo of the ladies of Wellington dancing Flamborough is typical. See: I remember dancing morris in Wellington in the late-1970s, and after a dance some elderly ladies came up and said that they used to do morris dancing. Not realising the significance of them they got ignored, and much like the 'last Sussex morris dancer' that Lucy Broadwood dismissed. I guess these ladies were never sought out and interviewed?

There is no evidence of there being any continuity between that team and the current sides formed in the 1970/80s, excepting that the 1940s NZ Morris Men's kit (see photo) was loaned by John Oliver to the newly formed City of Auckland side in 1977 before their own kit was devised.

And I wonder if anyone ever interviewed John Oliver before he died, or tried to track down the other members of his team? They'd all be gone now though. Every summer throughout the second world war annual Folk Dance Summer Schools were held, usually organised by John Oliver. Descriptions of the activities at these can be read in the magazines mentioned above.

There was supposed to have been an archive of material dedicated to John Oliver somewhere in New Zealand but I have no details. There is nothing else on the web about him nor about Hilda Taylor.

As an aside there's an excellent web site detailing many of Roy Dommett's lectures about the history of morris dancing both of the kind performed in New Zealand in the 1940s, and also of the kind now performed by modern teams. Also mention is made of Tubby Reynold's important visit in 1990.

I refer you to the following web sites:

If anyone wants a copy of Roy Dommett's notes as published by Tony Barrand try advertising on the Morris Mailing list at: MORRIS@LISTSERV.IUPUI.EDU or you could email the Country Dance & Song Society (of America) or CDSS at:

Chris Brady (Sept. 2007).

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