Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns honoured

14 Sep 2009 16:44

Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns : taonga puoro Renaissance men (Photo: Rattle Records)
 (l to r) Richard Nunns with Jan Melbourne and her daughters Maia and Mahina with taonga puoro musician Horomona Horo, following the Hall of Fame induction.


Richard Nunns and the late Hirini Melbourne have been inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame at the APRA Silver Scrolls event on Thursday 17 September, 2009 in Christchurch. Following a moving spoken and musical tribute from colleagues and musicians Moana Maniapoto Jackson and Horomona Horo, Richard and his whanau, and Hirini's whanau Jan and their daughters Maia and Mahina accepted the citation and accolades.

Māori composer, music educator and author, the late Hirini Melbourne (Tuhoe and Ngati Kahungunu) began his teaching career as a primary school teacher, writing songs for children and became renowned for his work in Māori language as well as music. Today, students in most classrooms in Aotearoa have been exposed to Hirini’s songs, creating a long lasting connection between his music, Māori language and many thousands of young people.

Richard Nunns is one of New Zealand’s most remarkable musicians. From the extremes of avant-guard jazz this red-haired Pakeha has become a living authority on taonga puoro (Māori traditional instruments) a journey that required a great deal of “respect, perseverance and sensitivity” – all of which is illustrated in his music.

Together, through a collaboration lasting over 20 years and with master carver Brian Flintoff, Hirini and Richard went about the gentle re-awakening of the traditional Māori instruments that had been lying silent in museums for generations. Without the commitment, patience and hard work of these two, who combined artistic ability and dedicated research, it is likely that these ancestral voices would still be silent.

 “This is one of the most significant stories in New Zealand music,"  says APRA’s Director of NZ Operations, Anthony Healey, "an instrumental tradition lost for more than a century but, against all odds, bought back to life. It’s an extraordinary story of extraordinary people”

Acclaimed composer, APRA writer member and SOUNZ Trustee Gillian Whitehead says; “Without the combined talents of Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns working together over several decades, patiently piecing together the fragments of knowledge and skill still held by kuia and koroua, the richness and variety of the sounds of taonga puoro, and the infinite potential of the recovered voices of our past, would not now be sounding around the world”

Te Ahukaramu Charles Royal, composer, musician, researcher and SOUNZ Trustee says;  “Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns are regarded as the ‘fathers’ of the renaissance of taonga puoro making and performing … It is amazing to see how widespread the use of taonga puoro is  now. Taonga puoro appear almost everywhere - in film soundtracks and television advertisements, in compositions by composers such as Gillian Whitehead and in the music of diverse music making groups such as the Woolshed Sessions, Tiki Tane, Moana and the Tribe, Rhian Sheehan and many more. New Zealand music and music making would be much poorer but for the efforts of Richard Nunns and Hirini Melbourne."

The New Zealand Music Hall of Fame is a project of APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association) and RIANZ (Recording Association of NZ). It aims to  honour and celebrates those who have made a significant contribution to New Zealand through music. Their individual journeys are a direct reflection of the changing face of our culture; who we were, who we are, and what we might become. Their connection is their rich and varied legacy. The Hall of Fame inductees have been the originators, the groundbreakers and those whose music is loved and adored and has made a difference. Previous inductees include: Ray Columbus and the Invaders, Jordan Luck, Straitjacket Fits and the Topp Twins.

Recordings from Richard Nunns and Hirini Melbourne include the seminal works of traditional Māori instrumental music Te Ku Te Whe and Te Hekenga-a-rangi. The beautiful publication Taonga Puoro: Singing Treasures by their friend and collaborator Brian Flintoff celebrates the beautiful instruments whose voices they awoke. Richard has gone on to feature as a taonga puroro specialist in many other recordings across diverse genres, for example: Puhake ki te rangi, Ipu, Tuhonohono and Two Tides.





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