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Karakia for the Dawn

for treble-voice choir and piano

Year:  2021   ·  Duration:  3m
Instrumentation:  SSA choir, piano

Year:  2021
Duration:  3m
Instrumentation  SSA choir, piano

David Hamilton

Composer:   David Hamilton


A ‘karakia’ is defined in the online Maori dictionary as an “incantation, ritual chant, chant, intoned incantation, charm, spell - a set form of words to state or make effective a ritual activity”. The word can be used as both a noun and a verb. This is the fourth work which uses the term “karakia” to suggest an incantation in praise of the natural world, following works for the stars, the winds, and the moon.
The text for this work consists of three traditional Maori proverbs or whakatauki. They all relate broadly to the dawn and beginning of a new day. The first talks of bringing a sense of well-being with the dawn, and includes the well-known phrase “tīhei mauri ora” - literally ‘the sneeze of life’ but often translated to mean ‘let there be life’ or used as an indication that someone may speak in a formal setting.
The second short text brings with it a wish that the future will be bright - a touch of frost heralds a bright new day. The final text also brings a hope for the future, and likens the bright day to sunlight shimmering on water the colour of greenstone (pounamu).

Karakia for the Dawn was written for Cigno Voce (Westlake Girls High School, Auckland) and conductor Rachel Carson

Contents note

The score is available from the composer (contact