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Introduction to Taonga Puoro
Educational series

Introduction to Taonga Puoro

Introduction to Taonga Puoro

In this video, Jerome shares his personal journey with Taonga Puoro

* Filmed during the COVID-19 rāhui in April 2020.

Pūtōrino ā Raukatauri

Our journey into the world of Taonga Puoro (Māori musical instruments) begins with the Pūtōrino, a cocoon-shaped Taonga Puoro that is truly unique to Aotearoa. The shape of the Pūtōrino is inspired by the native Raukatauri moth (also known as the case moth or bag moth), whose form was taken by Raukatauri, the Atua (god) of the Pūtōrino and of Māori flute music and Taonga Puoro. In this session, Jerome describes three kinds of sound, given to us by Raukatauri, that are often heard in Taonga Puoro music:

He tangi hotuhotu - the sobbing, crying sounds of loss and release

He tangi mokemoke - the sounds and sighs we make when we’re missing someone

He tangi manawa - the sounds that represent the feeling of alignment and joy when our heart sings

Jerome Kavanagh also demonstrates the three common styles of Pūtōrino playing. Each with its own unique sound and feeling, the styles of playing represent three different voices (the female voice, the male voice, and the voice of the children) and are produced by playing and holding the Pūtōrino in different ways.


Hue, or gourd, is used to create Taonga Puoro both large and small. Cross-blown or swung like a Poi, these Taonga Puoro convey the peaceful song of Hinepūtehue and mimic the call of manu (birds) like Kākāpō, Kererū, Weka, and Tui. In this session, you'll learn about Hue Puruhau, Poi Awhiowhio, Poi Harakeke, Ponga Ihu, and Karanga Manu, and experience their natural ability to heal both mind and soul.


Made from bone, wood, stone, leaves, seaweed, stems, or gourd, the Kōauau is the most common of all Taonga Puoro. But where does its name come from? And how is it related to man’s furry best friend? In this session, Jerome shows how this ancient cross-blown flute resonates with the song of the object from which it's made, and of the natural environment from whence it comes. You’ll learn about the Whakapapa (genealogy) of the Kōauau, hear its haunting cry, and discover that Taonga Puoro have unique personal names, just like we do.

Pūmoana, Pūtātara and Pūpu

Ngā reo parikarangatanga

From the realms of Tangaroa, Hinemoana, and Hinemokemoke, shell instruments are used across the Pacific to herald the birth of new life, mourn the death of loved ones, signal the beginning of ceremonies, and connect us to the beauty and power of nature. In expert hands, the sounds they produce are as varied and diverse as the sounds of the moana itself. In this session, you’ll learn about three Taonga Puoro which are made from shells:

Pūmoana - made from a large conch shell and known affectionately across the Pacific as "Pū"

Pūtātara - similar to the Pūmoana, but with an extended wooden mouthpiece

Pūpu - made from a variety of small snail shells from both land and sea.

You’ll see the different ways in which these Taonga Puoro can be played, learn about their Whakapapa, and find out which locations in Aotearoa have natural "sound significance".

E mihi kau ana ki a koe Jerome mō tō pūmanawa me ō pūkenga e whakaatuhia ana i ō mahi puhi i te Pūtātara, Pūmoana me te Pūpū.


Reo aroha

Nose flutes of all shapes and sizes appear throughout the Pacific, Southeast Asia, and Polynesia. The soft air blown through these instruments transforms into a gentle sound that calms the spirit and can be used to lull a baby to sleep or help us mourn the passing of a loved one.

In this session, you’ll learn about the Nguru and its cousins across the Pacific, and you’ll hear how Jerome’s Nguru sings of a love that only a mother could know.

E mihi kau ana ki a koe Jerome mō tō pūmanawa me ō pūkenga e whakaatuhia ana i tō whakatangi i te Nguru.

Porotiti and Pūrerehua

Ngā oro of Tāwhirimātea

Porotiti and Pūrerehua are Taonga Puoro that come to us from the realm of the winds and the air. Singing the songs of Tāwhirimātea, they produce vibrations that have the power to clear blockages and bring balance to both the physical and spiritual realms.

In this session, Jerome shows how, despite their simple mechanics, the Porotiti and Pūrerehua generate sounds of tremendous depth and vastness that even have the amazing ability to heal our bodies. Learn about these special Taonga Puoro, their Whakapapa, and their multiple functions in ceremony, in healing, and in musical performance.

E mihi kau ana ki a koe Jerome mō tō pūmanawa me ō pūkenga e whakaatuhia ana i te mahi o te Porotiti me te Pūrerehua.

Tōkere and Tūmutūmu

Ko te kuku o te manawa

Toka (rocks) and Rākau (wood) give us rhythms born of the realms of Tane, Hinetuparimaunga, and Parawhenuamea. In this session, you’ll learn about Tōkere and Tūmutūmu, two primal-sounding Taonga Puoro that tap out the songs of Papatuanuku and connect us to our own human mothers. See how Jerome manipulates the sound and pitch of these Taonga Puoro by adjusting the position of his fingers and hear how their resonant sound mimics the chorus of Ngā manu tiori o Raumati (cicadas basking in the summer sun).

E mihi kau ana ki a koe Jerome mō tō pūmanawa me ō pūkenga e whakaatuhia ana i tō pākiri i te Tōkere me te Tumutumu.

* Filmed during the COVID-19 rāhui in April 2020.

Te Kū me te Roria

Our educational journey into the world of Taonga Puoro ends with Te Kū and Rōria. Rarely seen and often overlooked, these Taonga Puoro make subtle percussive sounds that imitate the natural rhythm of the earth. Their intimate voices connect us back to ourselves and heighten our sensitivity to the percussive sounds of nature. In this session, you’ll hear how these Taonga Puoro mimic, with striking realism, the gentle patter of water as it drips through the forest. You'll also hear Jerome's soothing waiata (song) about our ancient, universal connection through the power of water and learn how he finds his own rhythm through “the rhythm of Kū”.

E mihi kau ana ki a koe Jerome mō tō pūmanawa me ō pūkenga e whakaatuhia ana i tō mahi whakatangi i Te Kū me te Rōria.