1992 Music

The Journey of Mataku Moana

Solo instrument

For cello

I wrote The Journey of Matuku Moana in 1992, in response to a commission from the Danish-born Australian-based cellist, Georg Pedersen, who gave its first performance in Sydney in 1993. The commission was funded by the Performing Arts Board of the Australia Council.

About the work

Matuku moana is the Māori name of the white-faced heron. This piece was mostly composed in Sydney while I was receiving treatment for breast cancer. I had a large wooden sculpture of a heron in my room, and I completed the work in New Zealand in an environment where herons fed in the mudflats outside my house.

The Journey of Matuku Moana is based on the idea of the double, where the initial ideas are recycled and condensed, and the call of the Australian currawong and the New Zealand korimako (bellbird) recur during the piece.

The music, recorded by Georg Pedersen, was used in Gaylene Preston’s film Titless wonders.

Titless wonders

Scores and recordings

Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ.

The Journey of Mataku Moana

The work has been released on 2 CDs you can buy or borrow from SOUNZ.

Australian Cello — CD

Under the Southern Cross — CD

Listen online to Alexander Ivashkin’s performance from Under the Southern Cross.

The Journey of Mataku Moana — video (audio only)

Angels born at the speed of light

Voice and instrumental ensemble, Collaborations, Dance

For narrator, dancer and improvising trio

Text by Cilla McQueen

Funded by Creative New Zealand, this work was given its first performance at the Trust Bank Theatre, Dunedin in 1992. The choreographer was Bronwyn Judge and the performers  were Judy Bailey (piano), Peter Adams (clarinet) and Russell Scoones (percussion).

About the work

Angels born at the speed of light is a collaboration between poet Cilla McQueen, Bronwyn Judge and myself. The dance, in and around a pool of water, involved 3 ages of women — as child, as woman (Bronwyn Judge) and kuia (Shona McTavish).

For some time, I had been interested in working with improvising musicians to provide a musical structure in which the narrative is always recognisable but the detail constantly changes.

I provided the framework and the basic material while the performers — in this instance narrator, piano, percussion and clarinet doubling saxophone — adapt the material and, within the framework, take it where they will.


The trio is scored for clarinet/saxophone, with improvised parts for percussion and piano. The clarinet part can be played on flute, and a vibraphone is optional.

Score and recording

Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ.

Angels born at the speed of light — SOUNZ

A recording of the premiere performance made by RNZ Concert may be available from Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision.

Angels born at the speed of light — Ngā taonga