For orchestra

Tūranganui was commissioned by the NZSO to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Cook’s arrival in Aotearoa. The first performance was given by them conducted by Hamish McKeich at the Michael Fowler Centre on 15 September 2018.

About the work

250 years ago, on 8 October 1769, Captain Cook and his men, with the best of intentions, made landfall in the Endeavour, on the east coast harbour of Tūranga-nui-a-kiwa (modern-day Gisborne). They went ashore to find water, but unfortunately things did not go to plan. In his diary Joseph Banks was to write, ‘thus ended the most disagreeable day my life has yet seen … and heaven send that such may never return to embitter future reflection.’

As a result of cultural misunderstandings that day, the first shots were fired in this country, and 4 Māori lost their lives.

While writing this piece, I was aware of what Cook and his party, and Māori arriving in the same place centuries earlier, would have felt — relief or elation at being on dry land, alongside heightened awareness, apprehension, wonder, fear. And for the iwi on shore, curiosity, maybe apprehension, but no foreknowledge of how the visitors would threaten and change their world order.

Tūranganui is part abstract, part programmatic — given the theme of landfall how could it not be — and I leave it to listeners to interpret it in their own way.


Tūranganui is scored for: 2222; 4331; harp, timpani, 3 percussion and strings.

Percussion 1: wind chimes, stones, tomtoms

Percussion 2: tamtam, bass drum

Percussion 3: suspended cymbals, marimba, stones

Score and recording

Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ soon.

The premiere performance was recorded as part of SOUNZ’s Resound project.

Tūranganui — video

RNZ Concert’s recording from the premiere is available online.

Tūranganui — audio


The Otago Daily Times interviewed me after the premiere.

Making sense of Cook’s confusion — publication