Na Aroha Yates-Smith koropupu ake ana nga wai o te matapuna he wai matao he wai reka ki te korokoro he wai tohi i te punua waiora waimarama wairua te puna o te tangata te putanga mai o nga reanga hei poipoi I nga taonga tuku iho pukenga wananga manaaki tangata tiaki whenua tamaiti taiohi taiao.
Bubbling upwards rise the waters from the spring cool, refreshing water fluid delighting the taste buds blessing the young water – life-giving, clear – the spirit. The springs of humankind producing generations who will nurture their inheritance learning from the storehouse of knowledge hospitality/generosity to all guardianship of the land Child Youth Universe. The waiata acknowledges the vital role natural springs have in providing clean, delicious drinking water, which nourishes humankind and the wider environment. The water is also used in traditional and contemporary forms of blessing our young. The line “waiora waimarama wairua” refers to the life-giving force of the water, its clarity and purity, and the spiritual essence which pervades it and every life force. The second verse focuses on the importance of generation after generation preserving all that is important: “Te puna o te tangata” refers to the fountain of humankind, that is, the womb which produces the future progeny of our people. From woman is born humankind: generations of people who continue to nurture and maintain those treasures passed down through eons of time: knowledge and wisdom, the importance of caring for others and looking after the environment. The final line, “tamaiti taiohi taiao”, creates a link between the (tiny) infant, youth and the wider environment, and ultimately the Universe.
Te Heuheu Herea, a high chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa in the Taupo district, died in 1820 and was mourned by his son in this song of lament (waiata tangi). The text was collected by Sir Apirana Ngata in his book ‘Nga Moteatea’ of 1959. It is written in a dialect differing in several aspects from present day Maori. There is no record of the original chant; however this setting utilises some of the devices and conventions from that tradition.
Te Hau o Tawhirimatea is dedicated to Richard Nunns and Bridget Douglas. The music aims to create a space in which the musicians, and the voices of their instruments, may speak together. The musical space is flexible, encouraging spontaneous dialogue between the various instrumental voices. Tawhirimatea, the wind god, child of Earth and Sky, represents powerful elemental forces, but he is also capable of gentle playfulness. Te hau refers also to human breath, the force which animates the wind instruments. From the mingling of breath, sweet voices are brought into being.
This is pure program music. I wanted to write a sort of New Zealand “Till Eulenspiegel” and chose the legend of how Maui fishes up Aotearoa. All the main events of the story are depicted: how Maui hides in his brothers’ canoe with his magic hook, how he helps his brothers to a fabulous catch, how he lets down his own special hook and catches something unbelievably big which leads to a herculean struggle, how the brothers cut up Maui’s “fish” while he is going to get help, and then the final realisation that the gods are not pleased with the behaviour of the brothers.
The figure of Maui is played by the clarinet, a part which is so important that the work became a Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra.
This is the first part of a projected four movement Maui Cycle which will include Maui slowing the sun, Maui getting fire and the death of Maui.
The thing that struck me about Charm when I first read it, was the wonderful concept of the spirit of the land – te wairua o te whenua. The land is our mother, she cares for all of her children. We have all at some point in time been a stranger to this land, and as visitors, we have all been welcomed by her.
Charm is a poem from the mid 19th century, a time when all Europeans were recent visitors to the land. It is likely, however that this poem was a Maori charm originally, translated into English by settlers, suggesting that Maori also felt the same way about Aotearoa.
We now live in a unique multi-cultural society. Our many and varied contemporary art forms reflect this fact, and display something that could only be created here. This piece is a recognition of the similarities and differences of all of the cultures of New Zealand. It is a musical analogy to my idea that cultures can co-exist without overshadowing or changing one other. And finally, it is a musical celebration that we all have ended up here on the same soil.
Toru means ‘three’ in Maori, here referring to the trio of players.
The written score of Toru lays out the structure, dramatic shape and instrumentation of the music, but the musical details is left to the creativity of the performers, so the musical voyage complete each time Toru is performed will be unique. An aim in Toru has been to draw the cello and clarinet into the sound world of the taonga puoro in the course of the performance.
Images of the bush and wild west coast: their beauty and their darkness, their dynamic and contrasting moods, are the starting point for this work which paints visual and auditory elements encountered here – metaphors also for spirit of place.