Works with taonga pūoro

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

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


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

Duet for flute and taonga pūoro

Hineraukatauri was written for, and dedicated to, Alexa Still and Richard Nunns. They gave the first performance at the 1999 National Flute Convention in Atlanta, USA.

About the work

In Māori tradition, Hineraukatauri is the goddess of music and dance. She is embodied in the form of the female case-moth, who hangs in the bushes and sings in a pure, high voice to attract the male moths to her. Her hair is found as a fern, the hanging spleenwort, and her voice is heard in the sound of the pūtōrino, an instrument known only in Aotearoa. The pūtōrino is an instrument that can be played in various ways – as a flute, as a trumpet and as a means of enhancing or altering the human voice.

Instrumentation and scoring

The flautist plays piccolo, concert flute and alto flute.

The taonga pūoro include 3 different pūtōrino — one made of albatross bone and 2 of wood, and both the flute and trumpet voices are used. Other instruments used are a karanga manu (bird-caller), a pūrerehua (swung bull-roarer) and tumutumu (tapped instruments).

The flute player’s part is notated, but the music for the taonga pūoro is improvised; there are areas when the flute player is encouraged to improvise with the taonga.

Scores and recordings

Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ, or buy an MP3 recording.

Hineraukatauri — SOUNZ

There are several CD recordings of this work.

Puhake ki te rangi — CD

Quays — CD

Silver Stone Wood Bone — CD and digital album

Hineraukaturi has been recorded twice as part of SOUNZ’s Resound project.

Hineraukatauri — video 2017

Hineraukatauri — video 2012

Hineraukatauri was also included on a double CD called Sound Barrier, a major promotional project for New Zealand music.

Sound Barrier — CD


Kirsten Eade focused on this work in her dissertation.

The influence of Māori music traditions in the flute compositions of Gillian Whitehead — publication


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


Works with taonga pūoro, Voice and instrumental ensemble, Collaborations

For kaikaranga, taonga pūoro and bassoon

Text by Aroha Yates-Smith

The first performance of Hinetekakara was given by Aroha Yates-Smith (kaikaranga), Richard Nunns (taonga pūoro), George Zukerman (bassoon) in Tamatekapua, the marae at Ohinemutu near Rotorua in March 2004.

About the work

Hinetekakara is an ancestress of Aroha Yates-Smith, whose own composition is embedded in mine. The interpretation of her chants is as follows:

  1. The singer invokes the spirit of her ancestress beside the rippling waters of Lake Rotorua.
  2. Tuhohomatakaka conducts the tapu-raising ceremony over Ihenga.
  3. Hinetekakara, participating in the ceremony, meets Ihenga and they fall in love.
  4. Hinetekakara’s lullaby welcoming her new-born son, Tuariki.
  5. Ihenga discovers the murdered body of Hinetekakara at the lake.
  6. The singer farewells her ancestress.

There are 3 other versions of this work, although this was the original.

Hinetekakara for kaikaranga, taonga pūoro and flutes

Hinetekakara for kaikaranga, taonga pūoro and ensemble

Hinetekakara for kaikaranga, taonga pūoro, flute, alto flute, and bassoon

About Hinetekakara

Many years ago, Hinetekakara lived with her husband (or father, according to some traditions) Ihenga on the edge of Lake Rotorua. Returning from a hunting trip, Ihenga discovered the body of his beloved Hinetekakara by the lake, murdered, and sang his mournful lament. The settlement at Ohinemutu is named for her (meaning ‘the end of the woman’).


The taonga pūoro played in this piece are, in order:

  • pūtatara — conch shell trumpet
  • pūtōrino matai — wooden pūtorino
  • pūmotomoto — shakuhachi-like wooden flute
  • pūpūharakeke — flax snail
  • pūkaea — war trumpet, and
  • nguru rākau maire — wooden nose flute.


Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ.

Hinetekakara — SOUNZ