Rain is an iconic poem by Hone Tuwhare, describing beautifully a feature of the weather but also subtly ruminating on death. The setting is quiet and lyrical, with an optional part for a rainmaker (to be played by the singer). This setting for baritone and piano was written for Matt Landreth, and recorded by him. The recording and score were auctioned to raise funds for the Otago Hospice appeal in May 2008. The song was subsequently scored for orchestra and recorded by Matt Landreth and the Auckland Philharmonia.
‘Te Arikinui’ for tenor, strings and percussion is an homage to the late Māori Queen, Dame Te Atairangikāhu. Its composition was suggested by the late Dr Mīria Simpson in 1991. In that year, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra travelled to Ngāruawāhia, outside of Hamilton, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Coronation of Dame Te Atairangikāhu. It was Mīria’s idea that a piece of music be commissioned for this occasion.
She approached Tīmoti Kāretu of Ngāi Tūhoe for a text befitting this purpose. Late in 1990, she approached myself to compose the music, which I readily agreed to. Unfortunately, the invitation came quite late and there was not enough time to complete the composition. A first version, however, was completed late in 1991 but it was not performed.
An opportunity to perform the piece came in 2003 when Ngāti Kahungunu violinist Elena approached me to support the development of her project entitled ’Elena’s Cultural Symphony’. I asked a colleague, Craig Utting, to assist with the scoring of a new version of Te Arikinui. This was completed and the work was then performed as part of ’Elena’s Cultural Symphony’ in 2004 by members of the then NGC Wellington Symphonia at the Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington. Unfortunately, I was not satisfied with the work and decided to rework the piece.
I revised the piece in 2005 and 2006 and in that time there were a number of attempts to perform the work in the presence of Dame Te Atairangikāhu (including a proposed performance at Government House, Wellington, in honour of Dame Te Ata’s 30th anniversary in 2006). Unfortunately, none of these were successful. The work was never performed before her as Dame Te Ata passed away in 2006.
It was not until 2010 when the piece was finally performed in its current version at the WEL Energy Academy of Performing Arts, Waikato University, Hamilton. The occasion was the ‘Kīngitanga Day’ held at the university each year to celebrate King Tūheitia’s birthday on 14 April. And so on that day, 14th April 2010, the piece was finally performed in the presence of the King, with his wife Te Atawhai, in the Academy. It was performed by the Waikato University Orchestra conducted by Adam Maha. Howard McGuire, from Ngāti Kahungunu, was the singer.