Chamber ensemble (2-7 players)

Ad Parnassum – Purapurawhetū

Chamber ensemble (2-7 players), Works with taonga pūoro, Collaborations, Dance, Film and theatre

A cross-disciplinary collaboration using dance and film, with music for string quartet and taonga pūoro

Ad Parnassum – Purapurawhetū was first presented during Matariki on 21 June 2022 in the North Quad of the Christchurch Arts Centre. The pre-recorded music is performed by the New Zealand String Quartet with Alistair Fraser (taonga pūoro).

About the work

Designed and directed by Daniel Belton of Good Company Arts, Ad Parnassum – Purapurawhetū is a 30-minute film combining digitally re-choreographed dance and music. It is based on Paul Klee’s painting, Ad Parnassum.

My music accompanies the film where the dancers become part of a shared visual and sculptural language bringing together Pacific and Mediterranean influences. Music drives the work which carries 9 women in an elongated vista — a singing bowl brimming with movement and colour codes.

Creative team

Other members of the creative team were creative producer and designer, Donnine Harrison and fashion designer, Kate Sylvester.

The Good Company Arts digital film team were Daniel Belton (cameras, film designer, film editor, post production choreography, motion graphics, audio mastering), Jac Grenfell (motion graphics, Cinema 4D, 2D animation, audio design), Nigel Jenkins, Josef Belton (kinetic props), Bradon McCaughey (cameras) and Stuart Foster (spatial lighting, props, cameras).

The choreographers and dance performers were Nancy Wijohn, Kelly Nash, Jahra Wasasala, Christina Guieb, Laura Saxon-Jones, Lucy-Margaux Marinkovich, Neve Pierce, Kiki Miwa and Stephanie Halyburton.

Score and recording

The score for this work is not available.

Watch the film on the Good Company Arts website, where there is also more information about the work.

Ad Parnassum – Purapurawhetū — Good Company Arts

A promotional video created for the premiere gives a taster of the work.

Ad Parnassum – Purapurawhetū — promo video


Daniel Belton was interviewed on RNZ’s arts programme, Standing Room Only ahead of the premiere.

Ad parnassum – Purapurawhetū dance film series — RNZ

The Otago Daily Times interviewed Daniel and me about our collaboration.

Dancing with the stars — ODT


The premiere was reviewed by Dr Ian Lochhead for Theatre Review.

Ad Parnassum – Purapurawhetū — Theatre Review

There was also a review by Erin Harrington.

Review: Matariki at The Arts Centre — Flat City Field Notes


In March 2023, Ad Parnassum – Purapurawhetū was presented at the Paris Women Festival based in Ontario, Canada. I was awarded Best Woman Composer for my score.

Winners March 2023 — Paris Women Festival

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

At night the garden was full of voices

Chamber ensemble (2-7 players)

For 4 recorders

About the work

This short piece was commissioned for recorder consort by Price Milburn Music at Steve Rosenberg’s request. Steve was a virtuoso recorder player who was active in the revival of the instrument in Auckland in the 1970s. He published a number of books of recorder music and At night the garden was full of voices was included in the second of these.

I was living in London when I wrote this work and finished it on 1 August.


At night the garden was full of voices can be played by SSAA recorders or TTBB recorders.

Score and recording

This work was published by Price Milburn Music.

Recorder Book 2 — publication

Hear and watch a recording from 2017 during a ‘composer portrait’ concert.

At night the garden was full of voices — video

Clouds over Mata-au

Chamber ensemble (2-7 players)

For string quartet

Clouds over Mata-au was written for the Stamic Quartet who gave the first performance at the Jine Pohledy (Other Outlooks) Festival in Prague in 2012.

About the work

I was fortunate to hold a residency at the Henderson House, built by the Austrian architect, Ernst Plischke, in Alexandra, a market town in Central Otago, in the South Island of New Zealand.

Central Otago is technically desert — rocky and redolent with the scent of wild thyme in summer, with spectacular snow-covered mountain ranges in winter. A great river, the Clutha or Mata-au, to give it its Māori name, flows through the area, and the house was built high above the river, which for me was the dominating feature in the landscape.

Clouds over Mata-au is a short piece in one movement, based on traditional quartet forms, alternating solo and concerted textures. It is dedicated to Margaret Clark and Vera Egermayer.

Score and recording

Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ

Clouds over Mata-au — SOUNZ

A CD including this work can be bought from all good record stores.

Shadows crossing water — CD

Douglas Lilburn, travelling on the Limited, regards the mountains in the moonlight

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

For viol quintet and taonga pūoro

Douglas Lilburn, travelling on the Limited was written for Palliser Viols – Reidun Turner, Sophia Acheson, Karen French and Imogen Granwal, led by Robert Oliver – for a tour which was cancelled because of Covid-19. The first performance was given at Futuna Chapel in Wellington on 18 February 2023 with taonga pūoro player, Mahina Kingi-Kaui.

Palliser Viols

About the work

This work was written to be performed in railway towns in the central North Island. It was seeing the mountains from the Limited that made Douglas Lilburn declare that the music reflecting this country was very different from that of Europe.


Douglas Lilburn, travelling on the Limited  is scored for 2 treble viols, 2 tenor viols, bass viol and taonga pūoru.


Contact me if you’re interested in the score.



Elizabeth Kerr reviewed the concert for her blog, Five Lines.

Music and Memory: a tribute concert for Barry Brickell – Five Lines


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

For string quartet and taonga pūoro

Hineputehue was commissioned by Wellington International Festival for the New Zealand String Quartet and Richard Nunns (taonga pūoro). It was first performed by them at the Illott Concert Chamber on 14 March 2002.

About the work

Hineputehue translates literally as the woman of the sound of the gourd — she is the Māori goddess of peace. The work was written in 2001, at the time of President Bush’s State of the Union address shortly before the invasion of Afghanistan, and suggests the fragility rather than the celebration of peace, particularly in a pre-European environment.

A number of instruments used in Hineputehue are made of gourds — the gourd, which carried food and water, is a symbol of peace.

There is a similarity between the stringed instruments of the quartet and the gourds, in that they are made from plant material, with sound emitted through sound holes. Another link is the ku, the only stringed instrument known to Maori, which is a small musical bow played like a jaws harp (jews harp) using the mouth as a resonating chamber. The idea of ororuarangi, which can be translated as ‘spirit voice’ (or double stopping in a different context) has had some influence on this piece as in the parallel movement of the strings.


The taonga pūoro part is improvised using:

  • the poi awiowhio, a very quiet bird lure which is swung around the head
  • the tiny kōauau ponga ihu or noseflute which ends the piece
  • the hue puru hau, a large gourd which is blown across its top opening
  • the gourd rattles played by the quartet, and
  • 2 other wind instruments frequently made from gourds, the nguru and the ororuarangi.

Other instruments are the pūtātara or conch shell trumpet, traditionally used for signalling, the pu kaea or war trumpet, a nguru niho paraoa or flute made from a whale’s tooth, the pumotomoto, associated with birth, and tumutumu (tapped percussion).

Scores and recordings

Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ.

Hineputehue — SOUNZ

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

Puhake ki te rangi — CD

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