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Kiwi grandmother Amoe McGrath: My hip-shake with Elvis on set of movie Hawaiian Style
July 17, 2015  /  New Zealand Herald
It has been 50 years, but Amoe McGrath still remembers meeting Elvis Presley. The 75-year-old Auckland grandmother was studying at the Church College of Hawaii when she
heard the hip-shaking star would be touching down to film part of his 1966 flick
Paradise, Hawaiian Style.

She is one of four New Zealand woman in a historic picture taken with Elvis during filming, published in the New Zealand Herald's Sideswipe column on Thursday.

"I just couldn't believe it when I heard [he was coming]," Ms McGrath said. "It was quite exciting. Everywhere he went he had security, I mean he couldn't take two steps without the
others following him around. But it was great. I've actually got the original photo in a frame here."

Mrs McGrath lived in Hawaii for 18 months after going over to visit her relatives, who were coordinators for the Maori Village at the Polynesian Cultural Centre in Laie.

She was just 25 in 1965 when Elvis touched down on the island just before Christmas.

The New Zealand students did traditional dances at the centre nightly alongside Hawaiian dancers - a skill that came in handy for the filming of Paradise, Hawaiian Style, she said.

One day, a helicopter flew over to film while the group was doing a dance near the banks.

"In that particular photo there are only four actual Kiwis. I'm right on the end, calling to my friends 'Hurry up, hurry up, get in the photo'. "Because it was just a short clip you just
jiggled around and jiggled around. This photo was actually in the finale. Everything stopped and we just took photos and that was the end of that."

Mrs McGrath returned to New Zealand in 1966 and was married just five months later, before teaching at Pakuranga Heights School for 26 years.

But when one student proudly said she had got Elvis' autograph during class one day - Mrs McGrath knew just the retort.

"I said I've got a whole lot of his autographs...I tell my friends who are about the same age as me, I don't bother with anyone who is younger than me. Half of them don't even know
she laughed. (EER Adds: we can only guess that Mrs McGrath doesn't realise just how famous Elvis still is today?) "But it was a fun time. A really fun time."