Performance of Taonga Pūoro at the Museum


Brian Flintoff with taonga puoro from the museum's collection 

Brian Flintoff with taonga puoro from the museum's collection 

This Friday, the Nelson Provincial Museum will celebrate the beginning of the Māori New Year, Matariki, with two public performances of traditional Māori musical instruments.

Musicians Bob Bickerton, Holly Tikao-Weir and Solomon Rahui, will play traditional instruments called Taonga Pūoro from the museums own collection. Nelson Master Carver Brian Flintoff carved this collection of Taonga Pūoro, and they are a part of a unique ‘handling collection’ which was given to the museum with the intention that they are played.

"We are delighted that these Taonga Pūoro will be given voice at such an important time of year for Māori. These instruments are known as singing treasures, and while they have been on display at the museum for several years, they were always meant to be played, handled by people and enjoyed," says Nelson Museum Chief Executive Lucinda Blackley-Jimson.  "Most objects in museum collections are preserved by not handling them, so this collection is particularly special because it allows us to bring our musical heritage to life.”

The first performance will be at dawn, with a call and response, between instruments situated at the museum and on the Cathedral steps. The second performance will start at 5 pm in the museum's atrium and will explore the instruments in more detail. In addition to hearing the Taonga Pūoro played, those who attend will be able to learn the stories about their history and significance in Te Ao Māori.

“Nelson was at the centre of revival for these instruments, with Brian Flintoff, Richard Nunns and others, playing an essential role in preserving the knowledge and traditions of Taonga Pūoro.  As a museum, it’s fitting that we continue to facilitate that knowledge sharing within our region.” says Lucinda.

Bob Bickerton is looking forward to bringing these instruments to life, with each Taonga Pūoro having its own distinct sound and tone.  “New Zealand’s musical heritage dates back to the arrival of the first Māori in Aotearoa, and as an educator and musician, it’s a unique experience to help introduce an audience to the sounds of traditional Māori instruments. Sometimes people are hearing these sounds for the very first time.”

The general public is welcome to attend both performances on Friday 15 June. The dawn call will start at 6:30 am at the Nelson Provincial Museum and the Cathedral steps, and the second performance begins at 5 pm in the museum atrium. Both events are free to attend, and no booking is necessary.