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Pikeri is the central section of Pao scored for mezzo, clarinet and piano. Pao is the name given by Māori to two-lined epigrammatic songs which comment on a wide range of subjects such as love, war, politics or religion, often topical, often improvised. Most of the songs set here were collected in 1864 from Māori prisoners captured during the land wars in the Waikato area south of Auckland. This central group of seven pao, unlike the others, form a sequence concerning Pikeri, a character famous at the time for his escapades evading the police; in this instance, enforced separation during a love affair is charted.
Margaret Orbell’s English translations of these pao, published in her Māori Poetry, an introductory anthology (Heinemann, 1978), are used with her kind permission.
Pao was commissioned by the Northumberland-based Syrinx Trio, with financial assistance from Northern Arts.
Text by Hirini Melbourne
When I was looking for texts to set for Te Oti Rakena to sing, Hirini Melbourne sent me two of his poems, Tāmaki-makau-rau (Tamiki of a hundred lovers, which is the Māori name for the area of Auckland), and He aha te hau mai nei (Why the wind comes). The subject matter of both poems is dark, focusing on pollution, environmental destruction and the injustices visited on the Māori people. In the first song, the poet is soaring high above Tāmaki-makau-rau. looking down and seeing the calm waters of the Waitemata veiling rage in the wake of the Bastion Point injustice, the pollution of the Manukau harbour, and the city as an ants' nest. In He aha te hau mai nei, the old wounds suffered by the land never heal, and tears give way to an avenging wind.
These songs were commissioned by Dr Robert Snow for Te Oti Rakena to sing, and are set with the kind permission of the author. They are published in the Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse (Ed Ian Wedde and Harvey McQueen, published 1985)
Text by the composer
The text was written by the composer in te reo Māori to celebrate the dawn of the new millennium. It asks the sun to rise, so that all of creation can thrive.
The first performance was given by Ana Good on Allans beach, on the Otago Peninsula, at dawn on 1st January, 2000.
soprano, koauau (optional)
Words: Tungia Baker
Tungia Baker wrote the text for a celebration of the story of Waitaha's prophet Te Maiharoa, who led a hikoi up the Waitaki river. Naumai e te ao marama is a song (or aria) from this work, which Ramonda Te Maiharoa Taleni has made her own.
First performance: Ramonda Te Maiharoa Taleni with Richard Nunns outdoors at the Elephant Rocks, Oamaru, January 2002.
Two women's voices
Text by the composer
The text was written by the composer in te reo Māori to celebrate the Waitaki river, and describes the journey of the river from the first drop of rain, the first flurry of snow high in the mountains to the dissipating of the force of the river in te moana-nui-a-kiwa, the Pacific Ocean.
The first performance, by Ana Good and Ramonda Te Maiharoa Taleni, was in the middle of the bridge over the Waitaki, on State Highway 1, on Waitangi Day 2004, at a festival celebrating the river and the Waitaha people of the area.
two women's voices
Pouakai, with a text in te reo Māori tells the legend of the giant wedge-tailed eagle that lived in fact and in myth between the south Canterbury plains and the Souther Alps.
The text was written by the composer in te reo Māori for a double celebration; to mark Matariki, the Māori mid-winter festival on the one hand, and the birthday of mezzo-soprano Ana Good.
The first performance was given by Ana Good at the Waitaha Matariki celebration in the Dunedin Art Gallery in June, 2008
The text, which draws on local Māori history, myth and imagery, was written by the composer in te reo Māori for the unveiling of Chris Booth's atavistic sculpture, Te Whiringa o Manoko in Kerikeri.
The first performance was given by Ramonda te Maiharoa Taleni, standing in the sculpture, on 8th June, 2009.
The text was devised by the composer
On February 10th, at Oamaru, a re-enactment of the visit of the Terra Nova, returning from the Antarctic to telegraph news of the death of Scott and his polar party to Britain, was held to celebrate the centenary of that event. Tōrea is the red-billed gull, and the conversational sound of the bird represents to Māori a warning that an unfortunate event will befall humans.
The first performance, with a text by the composer, was given by Ramonda te Maiharoa Taleni, to the accompaniment of penguins, at dawn as part of the re-enactment ceremony.
Poem: Fiona Farrell
A setting of Fiona Farrell's poem, written for the launch of Sir Alan Mark's Risk Assessment project, which invites the parties of government to join forces and consider the risks facing Aotearoa/New Zealand.
The first performance was given by Ana Good at the Risk Assessment launch in 2013
Text: the composer
E Haki (Haki is the Maori transliteration of Jack) was written for Mere Boynton to sing at a celebratory concert for Jack Body, and was also sung at his memorial thirteen months later.
A traditional Maori form uses the movement of the poi, telling of a journey around Aotearoa, linking places of significance to the singer, in terms of whakapapa, or ancestry. In terms of performance, E Haki will usually be preceded by a karanga – a call summoning the people, and explaining the purpose of the gathering.
My poi tells of Jack's journey over plains and rivers from Te Aroha to Auckland then swings over the great waves to the places of learning in Europe. My poi shimmers in the warm air of Indonesia home of Yono, Jack's dearest friend, then skims like a flying fish home to Wellington.
A rangatira, kind and generous, strong-hearted, of peaceful spirit.
A branch of the titoki will not break.
Is there a river so wide it cannot be crossed?
His music is that of the tui, his voice that of the bellbird.
This is the composer, this is the man we celebrate.
Dance, Jack, today.