1 May 1999

Musical Chairs: Richard Nunns

From Musical Chairs, 1:30 pm on 1 May 1999
Richard Nunns, 2009.

Richard Nunns, 2009. Photo: Gareth Watkins Ref PADL-000550 Alexander Turnbull Library.

Pākehā schoolteacher Richard Nunns (1945-2021) has spent the best part of his life playing and recording replicas of ancient Māori instruments. For nearly three decades the Nelson musicologist has been at the forefront of a crusade to rediscover the taonga puoro which some thought has been lost forever.

Dr Hirini Melbourne and Dr Richard Nunns began collaborating in 1989.

Dr Hirini Melbourne and Dr Richard Nunns began collaborating in 1989. Photo: Ross Clayton

Now however, these traditional Maori instruments are being used at some of New Zealand’s most important cultural moments.

Anyone who witnessed the opening of Te Papa last year may remember the spine tingling sound of the Maori instruments calling across the harbor.

Nunns also played at the opening of the Auckland Commonwealth Games in 1990 as the legend of Rangi and Papa was told…  But how did a pākeha come to be instrumental in the rediscovery of such a key part of Maori cultural history?

For RNZ's first-person music series Musical Chairs in 1999, Richard Nunns spoke about his belief that some how, it is his destiny.

Music Details

The Challenge  (W.Culvert) Yamaha New Lynn Brass Band from Bold as Brass  ODE 1291

In the Mood (Garland) Glenn Miller The Lost Recordings  Happy Days 75605 52401 2

Te Whati Tamati – Tangi RNZ archives

Koau (Melbourne & Nunns) Te Ku Te Whe RAT D004

The Storm (Gillian Whitehead)  Ipu RAT D007

Raureka (Melbourne & Nunns) Different Tracks RAT D003

Wairua Lament from Taku Wana (Helen Fisher) CD 744

Tumatakokiri (Melbourne & Nunns) Te Ku Te Whe RAT D004

Kahu (Control) Rua Moana & the Moahunters TANGD 532

The Opening of Te Papa RNZ archives

Rangi & Papa (Laird) This Is The Moment CBS 466 049

Waka’s Love for Kowhai (Gillian Whitehead) Ipu RAT D007

Aftermath (Gillian Whitehead) Ipu RAT D007

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