Language and Literature
New Zealand composers enjoy a close relationship with their literary compatriots and a substantial portion of New Zealand music using singers or narrators sets the texts of New Zealand authors. Douglas Lilburn made a feature of this. Popular New Zealand poets to set in the twentieth century included Allen Curnow, Denis Glover, James K Baxter, Alistair
Campbell and Hone Tuwhare. Popular non-New Zealand poets in the mid twentieth century included Blake and Shakespeare, with operas by David Farquhar (Enchanted Island, based on The Tempest_) and Ross Harris (_King Lear). In recent years the choice is wide-ranging, as can be seen, for instance, in the choral compositions of David Hamilton, Dorothy Buchanan
or Eve de Castro Robinson.
While most New Zealand compositions set English language texts, there is an increasing use of other languages, particularly Maori, which was the predominant language of New Zealand until the 1850s, and which, under The Maori Language Act of 1987, now enjoys equal status with English as an official language of New Zealand. Latin texts, particularly settings of the mass, have historically been a feature of church music composition in New Zealand. The languages of Asia and the Pacific Islands are increasingly featured in recent times.