This string quartet is performed as one movement. The first section is predominantly contrapuntal, including the opening bars where each performer sings ‘Aue’ (meaning ‘Alas!’, a Maori acclamation in some waiata tangi). The work continues with a section which features solo cello, followed by dance and song-like sections.
Much of the work is based on the intervals of a minor third, semitone and tone. Karanga, Maori song-calls, performed by women on the marae to welcome or farewell people, are one source of inspiration for this piece. A characteristic musical feature of karanga is a long drawn out cry (glissando). Since there is often more than one caller on the marae, it is not uncommon for the calls to overlap.
In October 1994 the New Zealand String Quartet gave its premiere performance at Lower Hutt. It is described as “quite probably the most successful synthesis of the contemporary Maori and European sound worlds.” Dominion 16-9-95.