2006 Music


Chamber orchestra or large ensemble, Choral music, Collaborations

For voices, brass, woodwind and percussion

The first performance of Passio was given by The Tudor Consort conducted by Alistair Carey and the Royal Air Force Band conducted by Owen Clarke, on 2 June 2006 at the Great Hall, Massey University, Wellington. The soloists were Alistair Carey (Evangelist), Brian Hesketh (Christus) and Madeleine Pierard (Spiritus).

About the work

Conceived by composer and close friend Jack Body, Passio is a re-contextualised version of Richard Davy’s (c.1465-1538) Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christe.

Jack invited composers associated with the New Zealand School of Music — David Farquhar, Ross Harris, Michael Norris, Lissa Meridan and me — to work on a movement of the work each. My contribution was the Gethsemane narrative.

The premiere was memorable as the audience was encouraged to walk around the performance area during the performance which took place in the large and resonant Great Hall at Massey University. The work was reconstructed for the 2017 Auckland Festival.


There is an audio recording of the first performance, and a video of a performance at the Auckland Festival in 2017.

Passio — audio

Passio — video


William Dart  and Alex Taylor wrote reviews of the Auckland Festival performance.

Stroll through Passio — New Zealand Herald

What would Jack do? A review of Passio — The Pantograph Punch


Carla van Zon, Director of the Auckland Festival, and I were interviewed when the Auckland Festival performance was in preparation.

In pursuit of Passio — interview

Ascot Suite

Solo instrument

For viola

About the work

Ascot Suite was written in the form of a mini-suite to celebrate the wedding of Charlotte Wilson and Paul Mann. It is part of a 2-movement work, with the other movement, Two Pages, contributed by Lyell Cresswell. The pieces were played by Gillian Ansell at Paul and Charlotte’s wedding breakfast in Christchurch in January 2007.

Score and recording

Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ.

Ascot Suite — SOUNZ

Puhake ki te rangi

Chamber ensemble (2-7 players), Works with taonga pūoro

For string quartet and taonga pūoro

Puhake ki te rangi was written while I was the Creative NZ/ NZ School of Music Composer-in-Residence. The premiere was given by the NZ String Quartet with Richard Nunns (taonga pūoro) on 6 February 2007 at the Adam Chamber Music Festival in Nelson.

About the work

Puhake ki te rangi, which translates as ‘spouting to the skies’ is a celebration of whales.

Although one section is based on a transcription of whale song, there is no programme to the piece — no confrontation with humanity, for instance. The guiding principles were the extreme range of whale song, the changing patterns of their song, and the image, given to me by the late Tungia Baker, of a whale in Campbell Island waters allowing seal pups at play to slide down her flanks over and over again until, tiring of the game, she flipped them gently away.

In the score, the taonga pūoro sections are improvised; mostly the quartet parts are notated, but sometimes the players are required to improvise.


The taonga pūoro used in this piece are all made from whale bone or the bone from the albatross, the whale’s avian counterpart.

In the order they are played, the taonga, all made by Brian Flintoff, are:

  • the percussive tumutumu, made from the jaw of a pilot whale washed up on Farewell Spit
  • a karanga manu (bird caller) made from an orca tooth
  • 2 nguru (flutes) made from the teeth of sperm whales that stranded, one in Tory channel and one at Paekakariki
  • 2 putorino koiwi toroa (instruments made here from albatross bones, which have 2 different voices, being played as flute or trumpet), made here from the wingbones of a wandering albatross from the sub-Antarctic islands and a young royal albatross from the Chatham Islands
  • a nguru made from the cochlea of a hump-backed whale and finally a putorino koiwi toroa, especially made for this piece from the rib of a right whale that beached at Cable Bay.

Members of the quartet play percussive instruments — whalebone tumutumu and tokere (castanets).

Scores and recordings

The New Zealand String Quartet and Richard Nunns have recorded this work.

Puhake ki te rangi — CD

Listen to the title track online.

Puhake ki te rangi — audio on video

There are also 2 performances by the New Zealand String Quartet with Rob Thorne online.

Puhake ki te rangi — Video Nelson 2019

Puhake ki te rangi — Video Wellington 2018


Chamber orchestra or large ensemble

Concerto for chamber orchestra and solo harp

Karohirohi was commissioned by the NZSO, and is dedicated to harpist, Carolyn Mills who gave the first performance with the NZSO conducted by Alexander Lazarev in the Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington on 21 June 2006.

About the work

Karohirohi — which means iridescent, shimmering, the sparkling of light on water — is the point of arrival rather than of departure in this piece.

Written for the forces of a classical symphony, Karohirohi draws on characteristics of classical form, and of classical concerto form, not so much in terms of exposition, development and recapitulation, nor in terms of the syntactical sentence and period structure (although these aspects are doubtless present), but more in the sense of classical style as it was perceived in the 18th century. At that time there was a gradual rather than an abrupt change away from the characteristics of Baroque music, and classical masterpieces drew on and seamlessly combined a variety of influences. In the background were the dance forms of the Baroque, but on to these were mapped remnants of older styles — learned style, such as fugue and imitation, styles from different genres, or forms of expression, such as brilliant or virtuoso style, singing style, or sensibility style, and even imitative styles, such as military fanfares and hunting calls.

Karohirohi, to my ears, like much music written today, is similarly eclectic, drawing on a range of references appropriate to this time and place. Its single movement incorporates various aspects of 3-movement concerto form, before dissipating in a coda.


Karohirohi is scored for: 2 (1+picc)222; 2200; timpani, strings, and solo harp.

Score and recording

Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ.

Karohirohi — SOUNZ

Karohirohi is available on CD and can be bought from all good CD stores.

Alice — CD

RNZ Concert recorded Karohirohi in 2006.

Karohirohi — audio


Works with taonga pūoro, Voice and instrumental ensemble

For kaikaranga, taonga pūoro and chamber ensemble

Text by Aroha Yates-Smith

The first performance of Hineteiwaiwa was given by the ERGO Ensemble, conducted by Alex Pauk, with Aroha Yates-Smith (kaikaranga) and Richard Nunns (taonga pūoro) in the Glenn Gould Auditorium, Toronto on 10 November 2006.

About the work

Hineteiwaiwa was commissioned by the ERGO Ensemble with financial assistance from Creative New Zealand.

Hineteiwaiwa is a wahine atua — a Maori goddess — the exemplary wife and mother who provided the pattern that all women follow. She assists at the entrances into and the exits from the world, with rituals concerned with tattooing of the lips prior to marriage, with the raising of tapu, and she is credited by some iwi with the introduction of weaving into the culture. Generally, she supports the role of women in traditional society.

Hineteiwaiwa was written at the time that Tungia Baker, herself an exemplary wahine toa, or woman of strength, was dying, and is dedicated to her memory.


Hineteiwaiwa is scored for: kaikaranga (a woman who has the role of making the ceremonial call to visitors onto a marae), taonga pūoro, and an ensemble of: flute/ piccolo, flute/ alto flute, bassoon, harp, string quartet and percussion. It can be performed without voice, but must involve taonga pūoro.

In the improvisatory sections, which are guided and shaped by the taonga pūoro player, there are few indications in the score. Generally, the improvisations involve the percussionist. Māori texts, devised and sung by the kaikaranga, may be integrated into these sections. Also embedded in the improvisatory sections of the piece is a separate vocal composition by Aroha Yates-Smith, woven around the attributes and quality of Hineteiwaiwa.

Score and recording

Buy or borrow the score, or hire the parts from SOUNZ.

Hineteiwaiwa — SOUNZ

RNZ Concert recorded Hineteiweiwa in 2009.

Hineteiwaiwa — audio