Skip to main content

'Cheryl Moana Marie' hits no. 1

8 May 1970

John Rowles concert poster, 1970
John Rowles concert poster, 1970 (Alexander Turnbull Library, Eph-C-CABOT-Music-1970-02)

Pop singer John Rowles established himself as an international star in the late 1960s. His hit single ‘Cheryl Moana Marie’ sold a million copies worldwide.

After starting out in an Auckland club band, Rowles ‘crossed the ditch’ to perform in Melbourne and Sydney. In 1966 he began working with Kiwi promoter Graham Dent. A new hairstyle and mod clothes saw the good-looking boy from Kawerau make a successful appearance on Australian television.

His big break came after he moved to England in late 1967. His hit songs ‘If I only had time’ and ‘Hush, not a word to Mary’ featured prominently in the British top-20 singles charts.

Now a star, Rowles returned to New Zealand, performing to sell-out crowds. In late 1969 he released the album Cheryl Moana Marie, with ‘Cheryl Moana Marie’/‘I was a boy’ reaching no. 1 in New Zealand.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, he regularly performed in Australia, the United States, and New Zealand. His last top-10 chart success in New Zealand came in 1981, with his version of ‘Island in the sun’.

Watch The Secret Life of John Rowles on NZ On Screen:

The Secret Life of John Rowles

How to cite this page

'Cheryl Moana Marie' hits no. 1, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated