Temuera Morrison’s artistic lineage can be traced to his uncle Howard Morrison, a legendary Kiwi musician whose success and voice was so wide-reaching that he was knighted. Sir Howard was so revered in New Zealand that he was given the nickname “Ol’ Brown Eyes,” a nod to Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra (via NZ on Screen). Beyond his music, which was popular across the South Pacific and Asia, Sir Howard dedicated his time and effort to fighting for civil rights. In particular, he rallied for equal education and access for New Zealand’s native Māori people (Sir Howard was of part Te Arawa descent).
Per NZ on Screen, Morrison recalled of his uncle, “I remember as a young boy, growing up — we were always told to stand up and make a speech, stand up and sing a song, do this and do that, and when I look back, he was grooming us, training us for our journey.”
However, according to a biography of Sir Howard written by his son Howie Jr., the relationship between uncle and nephew might not have always been smooth. As the Rotorua Daily Post explained, the book “reveals how Sir Howard was never keen to share the limelight, including with his namesake, and how he criticised his nephew, Temuera Morrison, for his role in ‘Once Were Warriors.'”