E rewa mai, e ra is an invocation to the sun, asking it to rise, to give light, so that all living things will thrive and be healthy, so that the rain will fall. It is 2000 years since the coming of Christ. Rise, sun.
In the tradition of the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, Hine Raukatauri is the goddess of music and dance. She is embodied in the form of the female case-moth, who hangs in the bushes and sings in a pure, high voice to attract the male moths to her. Her hair is found as a fern, the hanging spleenwort, and her voice is heard in the sound of the putorino, an instrument known only in Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand). The putorino is an instrument that can be played in various ways – as a flute, as a trumpet and as a means of enhancing or altering the human voice.
Hineraukatauri is written for two performers, one playing conventional flutes (piccolo, C and alto flutes), and the other for taonga puoro (instruments). The score features three different putorino, which, like all taonga puoro, (and also the songs and chants) have a small pitch range, rarely exceeding a fourth, which varies from instrument to instrument. Three putorino are used in this piece – one made of albatross bone and two of wood, and both the flute and trumpet voices are used. Other instruments used are a karanga manu (bird-caller), a purerehua (swung bull-roarer) and tumutumu (tapped instruments.)
The flute player’s part is notated, but the music for the taonga puoro is improvised; there are areas when the flute player is encouraged to improvise with the taonga.
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.