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He Reo Tawhito
Season 3, Episode 4: A conversation with Jerome Kavanagh

Mōteatea is a centuries-old tradition of chanted song-poetry; a great literary and musical art form that expresses the powerful portrayal of storytelling and is reflective of the emotional depths of a Māori world view. Its vast richness is yet to be fully understood. 

In these eleven episodes, over three series, hosted by Crystal Edwards, we hold conversations with some of the world’s leading experts on mōteatea and ask them: What does mōteatea mean to you? Traditionally, why were they composed and how have they change? Who are some key composers or mōteatea and how have they influenced your music?

He Reo Tawhito: Conversations about Mōteatea podcast

Season 3, Episode 4

Please note: This podcast is spoken in te reo Māori & English

Grammy award-winning soloist and Māori musical instrument specialist Jerome Kavanagh hails from the Mōkai Pātea, Maniapoto and Kahungunu iwi in New Zealand, and from the Caomhanach clan in Ireland. For over twenty years, he has traversed the globe with his collection of taonga puoro (Māori musical instruments), sharing the exquisite sounds and songs of the natural world and the beautiful traditions of our tūpuna (ancestors).

In He Reo Tawhito, a Conversation about Mōteatea and Taonga Puoro with Jerome Kavanagh, we hear how mōteatea and taonga puoro go hand-in-hand, weaving together beautifully to tell stories that are ‘sung from the past, into the present, and into the future’. Jerome describes mōteatea as a connection:

“It’s telling stories of our tūpuna and significant places, and that’s really about connection. That’s what it is for me—mōteatea is a connection”. 

Jerome explains how mōteatea has intimately influenced the way in which he creates sound and waiata through taonga puoro, weaving the mauri of mōteatea and puoro together to acknowledge the connection between two taonga. 

He also explores the influence that the taiao (natural environment) has on mōteatea and taonga puoro, as elements like the sound of the wind and phrases sung by manu (birds) provide patterns, structure, and inspiration for compositions.  

“For me, mōteatea and puoro all comes from the taiao—the sound, the rangi, are directly from the taiao”. 

Hear Jerome’s vision for the future of mōteatea, and find out why mōteatea and taonga puoro sit together so harmoniously in this beautifully uplifting and moving conversation about mōteatea and taonga puoro.

Host: Crystal Edwards
Guest: Jerome Kavanagh

Links & Resources
Oro Atua – a puoro Māori sound healing journey

Production team
Producers: Toni Huata & Roger Smith
Sound Engineer: Phil Brownlee
Research: Dr Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal
Production Assistance: Ngahuia Maniapoto, Jonathan Engle & Alpana Chovan
Marketing: Leoné Venter
Executive Producer: Diana Marsh

Special thanks to
Oro Atua – a puoro Māori sound healing journey, performed by and thanks to Jerome Kavanagh.
Thanks to Adrian Wagner and Te Reo Irirangi o Te Upoko o te Ika
Cover Art: Kennedy Kioa Toi Faimanifo of Manatoa Productions 

This podcast is supported by funding from Toi Aotearoa | Creative New Zealand, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori and Recorded Music New Zealand.

Creative NZ Arts Council of New Zealand Toil Aotearoa

Recorded Music NZ

Maori Language Commission

© Copyright Centre for New Zealand Music Trust