1984 Music

Ahotu (O matenga)

Chamber ensemble (2-7 players)

For chamber sextet

Ahotu (O matenga) was commissioned by the Flederman Sextet, with funding from the Australia Council.

About the work

Ahotu is the sixth in a series of instrumental pieces based on the phases of the moon, and refers to the seventh day of the cycle in the Māori lunar year.

The text of the entire 30-day cycle has been used as one of the rhythmic generators of the piece, with vowels and consonants translated into durations to provide the apparently irrational rhythms, which are contrasted in a series of short ensemble or solo sections with either proportionally defined or regular rhythms.

The 2 longest sections are centrally placed. The first, featuring trombone and percussion, presents the language-based material in the percussion; the second, starting with the long piano solo, begins a mensural canon based on the proportional material. However, half-way through this canon, recapitulatory material begins, and subsequent appearances of the canon occur in continually shorter blocks, each transformed very differently.

O Matenga, in the title of the piece, refers to the Māori custom, found also in many other civilisations, of providing sustenance for the spirit to the next world after death — the piece is dedicated to my father.


Ahotu (O matenga) is scored for flute, trombone, cello, percussion and 2 keyboard players  — 2 pianos, celesta and harpsichord.

Score and recording

Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ.

Ahotu (O Matenga) — SOUNZ

The work was released on British label Lorelt in 2003.

New Zealand Women Composers — CD