Hineputehue translates literally as the woman of the sound of the gourd, and she is the Maori goddess of peace. The work was written in 2001, at the time of President Bush’s State of the Union address shortly before the invasion of Afghanistan, and suggests the fragility rather than the celebration of peace, particularly in a pre-European environment.
A number of instruments used in Hineputehue are made of gourds – the gourd, which carried food and water, is a symbol of peace. These include the poi awiowhio, a very quiet bird lure which is swung around the head, the tiny koauau ponga ihu or noseflute which ends the piece, the hue puru hau, a large gourd which is blown across its top opening and the gourd rattles played by the quartet. Two other wind instruments frequently made from gourds, the nguru and the ororuarangi, are also used. Other instruments are the putatara or conch shell trumpet, traditionally used for signalling, the pu kaea or war trumpet, a nguru niho paraoa or flute made from a whale’s tooth, the pumotomoto, associated with birth, and tumutumu (tapped percussion).
There is a similarity between the stringed instruments of the quartet and the gourds, in that they are made from plant material, with sound emitted through sound holes. Another link is the ku, the only stringed instrument known to Maori, which is a small musical bow played like a jaws harp (jews harp) using the mouth as a resonating chamber. The idea of ororuarangi, which can be translated as spirit voice (or double stopping in a different context) has had some influence on this piece as in the parallel movement of the strings.