The purpose of the music is to support, to act as an accompaniment to the visual images of the exhibition. In doing so, it leads the listener inside the paintings and carvings, alluding to stories of old, revealing new layers of experience. The music moves between the visual dimensions, touching on stories from the paintings and carvings and inferring new connections and layers to be explored. All imagery in the video is of the carvings and paintings in the exhibition and all sounds are made by taonga puoro or voice.
We start with Te Kore, silence and nothingness. It was the atua who sang the world into existence with the kōauau and so it is with this music. The opening phrases are played on a toroa (albatross) ororuarangi, an instrument closely related to the kōauau. With it, emerge the sounds of Ranginui represented by air blown through a pūtōrino and Papatuānuku represented by the grinding of stones.
Ariana sings Io Whakatata, a waiata which refers to moving through different layers, coming closer, as in the creation myth.
The emergence of Tāne comes with the sound of the great tumutumu Te Waewae Tapu o Hinewaipupu, following which we hear Waraki, a dawn chorus, of manu which feature edge tones of pūtōrino, karanga weka, karanga manu, karanga ruru, and hue puruhau. A second, whispered waiata by Ariana again speaks to the creation myth and is followed by a third waiata Te Haeata (the Dawn) with kupu by John Stirling. The original rangi to this waiata can be discerned amongst the cacophony of birdsong.
A seascape of Tangaroa speaks to the great Waka Huruhuru as it sails to find (if there is) a way through the horizon. The rangi is played on a toroa (albatross) ororuarangi.
But the discovery that lands exist beyond the horizon was not known by Māori alone. The next short section explores the first contact with pākehā in 1642 where a misunderstanding of the intentions played on instruments resulted in death. The pūkāea and pūpakapaka vie for ascendance and this is followed by a short rangi of the side blown pūtāratara.
A disquieting stone-scape resonates with the taniwha Ngararahuarau, whose bones are strewn across the top of the Takaka Hill. The pōrutu Nā te Pō ki te Ao Hou brings peace again and maintains a sentry over the Mōhua (Golden Bay).
Ngā Hau E Whā (the four winds) features four purerehua accompanying Hirini’s waiata Pūrerehua sung by Holly.
Hine Pū Te Hue, daughter of Tānemahuta and Hinerauā, brought peace to the fighting between the atua which resulted from the separation of Ranginui and Papatūānuku. She became the mother of the gourd family and here we hear a selection of gourd instruments including two poi āwhiowhio, hue puruhau and hue puruwai. Ariana then whispers Hirini’s waiata Toroa.
The pūmotomoto was an instrument used to impart knowledge to newborn babies through their fontenelle. Tumutumu were used as a vehicle for learning in the South Island. Here the tumutumu Te Waewae Tapu o Hinewaipupu, is heard again to represent Tāne passing through the different levels of the heavens to return with the sacred knowledge from Rehua. This story is retold in the beautiful carving on Brian’s pūmotomoto.
Hine Raukatauri is the goddess of flute music. She loved her flute so much that she went to live inside it and was transformed into the cocoon of the casemoth. The kōkako gains the beautiful voice of Raukatauri by eating the casemoth caterpillar. Here a section explores the story of Hine Raukatauri and the pūtōrino, which is an instrument unique to Māori. It has three principal voices, the child, male and female. This section starts with the child’s voice sounding not dissimilar to a dawn chorus. Male voices summon attention before a handled raupō poi (representing the restless Hine Raukatauri inside her cocoon) creates an uncomfortable accompaniment to a whispered version of Hirini’s Kōkāko by Holly and then a spoken version of Taku Pūtorino by Solomon. There follows a rangi played with the female voice of the instrument.
Haumanu is the name given to the group of practioners who revived the traditonal Māori instrument tradition in the 1960s. We are indebted to Hirini Melbourne, Richard Nunns and master carver Brian Flintoff for their mahi in saving taonga puoro. The calling of the pūtōrino replicates the effect heard by Haumanu when Hirini first played at Ōhaka Tapu. A pākuru is used as a transition to Tangimokemoke a Raureka, a rangi which was often played by Richard and here played on Brian’s Nguru Iho Maire.
There follows a whispered version of Hirini’s Whakarongo Mai, Tūī by Ariana. This precedes a sung version using Hirini’s original rangi and a reflective rangi on the kōauau.
Finally Ranginui returns as Holly sings Hirini’s Waka Kapua.
Notes by Bob Bickerton
The soundscape for Ngā Hau Ngākau has been composed and recorded by Bob Bickerton, Ariana Tikao, Holly Tikao-Weir and Solomon Rahui.
Ariana, Holly, Solomon and Bob first worked together on the Kā Here O Horomaka recording project and have since been involved in several exhibition projects with Robin and Brian as well as performances of waiata and taonga puoro in the Nelson community.
In 2019, Ariana and Bob performed Ko Te Tātai Whetū, a work for waiata, taonga puoro and orchestra, written by Ariana and Philip Brownlee, with the Nelson Symphony Orchestra.
In 2018, Ariana, Bob, Solomon and Holly, performed the Ngā Hau Ngākau soundtrack live to the video in the Suter Gallery's cinema in the nelson Arts Festival to critical acclaim.
It has been said that the atua sang the world into creation and so taonga puoro, the traditional musical instruments of Māori, whakapapa back to the beginning of time.
Their sounds represent their primal parents, Ranginui and Papatūānuku, with rhythm emulating Papa’s heartbeats whilst tunes ascend to Rangi after being played.
The atua of taonga puoro are the children of Rangi and Papa; Hine Raukatauri the mother of the flute family; Hine pū te Hue, the mother of hue, or gourds, who brought us the peaceful sounding group of gourd instruments; Tangaroa who brought us instruments made of shells; Tāne represented by instruments that emulate the sounds of the forest; and Tāwhirimātea whose children have no body and therefore have mystical spirit voices.
Songs add the words of human experiences to music, and taonga puoro are a kīnaki or embellishment to the songs.