26 Nov 2019

Gillian WHITEHEAD: Te waka ō te rangi

From Music Alive, 8:02 pm on 26 November 2019

He urupare ki ngā whetū tēnei. (A response to the stars)

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Performed by NZTrio: Amalia Hall (violin), Ashley Brown (cello), Somi Kim (piano). The performance is prefaced by a recording of Horomona Horo playing kōauau ponga iho.


Matariki Photo: Public Domain, ex NASA

Gillian Whitehead writes:

"Te waka ō te rangi is a waka in the sky, whose prow is the constellation Matariki, and whose stern is Tautoru, the belt of Orion.

"Every night the captain, the star Taramainuku, trawls with his net to collect the souls of the people who had died that day, and when Matariki sets in May, takes them to the underworld. When Matariki rises again, the souls are released to the heavens as stars.

"My piece responds to Horomona Horo's waiata for kōauau ponga iho (gourd nose-flute) which precedes it, and I have also quoted the refrain of a piece for solo voice which I wrote some time ago. The text roughly translates as: 'People gather to prepare the land, preparing mounds for kuma planting. It's winter, the rainy season, pools lie everywhere. The small eyes of Matariki'."

Recorded by RNZ in the Loft at Q Theatre, Auckland, 14 July 2019
Producer: Tim Dodd; Engineer: Adrian Hollay