6 Jul 2021

Series 2 | Episode 1: Puoro in the City - He Kākano Ahau: Wawatatia

From He Kākano Ahau, 6:00 am on 6 July 2021

May we boundlessly dream of possibilities beyond our wildest imaginations. May we weave communities of support, compassion and active solidarity. With our history in front of us, and our tūpuna at our shoulders, may we walk into a future that is connected and thriving for us all. This is He Kākano Ahau Season 2: Wawatatia.

Kahu playing the Pūtatara

 He Kākano Ahau host Kahu Kutia playing the Pūtatara Photo: UGP / Jessie-Lee Robertson

In episode one, we're in Te Whanganui-a-Tara to meet three wāhine who work with taonga puoro (traditional Māori musical instruments). We ask why these taonga almost disappeared and what their dreams are for the future of the practice.

[Click here for more episodes]

Episode one of He Kākano Ahau: Wawatatia expands upon the common misconceptions of the roles that atua wāhine played in our pūrākau and origin narratives, both of taonga puoro and other instruments of traditional Māori existence.

The members of Maianginui discuss the challenges involved when carving out spaces for wāhine Māori in music and the various other art communities.

It is apparent that there is still mahi needed surrounding the erasure of atua wāhine and wāhine Māori in te ao hurihuri. It is an episode that speaks to the mana of wāhine and the continual results of collective radical dreaming and imagining. This podcast is proof of what can happen when we dream and continue dreaming together for each other.

Puoro in the City
by Briar Pomana

There’s not much that can’t be fixed with a good cup of tea and a chat with the Aunties. A kitchen table with an assortment of slices and a few sprawled packets of biscuits is a common occurrence in ngā kainga Māori.

Women with loud laughs and tales that stretch over the entire afternoon bring with them comfort and languages rarely heard elsewhere. This is very much the vibe of He Kākano Ahau: Wawatatia episode one.

Kahu, Khali and Ruby on the couch

Kahu, Khali and Ruby on the couch Photo: UGP / Jessie-Lee Robertson

Khali Materoa, Ruby Solly, Ariana Tikao and Te Kahureremoa Taumata make up the taonga puoro collective, Maianginui. Their mahi revolves around reclaiming and re-centring mana wāhine and atua wāhine, many of whom have been disregarded or forgotten altogether as a direct result of colonisation.

Episode One begins with three of these wāhine as they take listeners on a journey of meditation and re-indigenisation through the art of whakapapa, storytelling and taonga puoro. 

Ariana Tikao

Ariana Tikao Photo: UGP / Jessie-Lee Robertson

So we begin the season in Te Whanganui-a-Tara where Maianginui, formed in 2020, are decolonising the way we interpret many of our pūrākau and narratives using and surrounding taonga puoro.

These traditional instruments made from wood, stone, clay, bone and other naturally derived materials were once habitually used for a range of purposes until the 1907 Tohunga Suppression Act brought about their near disappearance. 

It was not until the mid-1980s that another collective by the name of Haumanu, composed of jazz musician, Richard Nunns, carver and instrument maker, Brian Flintoff and esteemed Ngai Tūhoe musician, and composer Hirini Melbourne revived the silenced art of taonga puoro.

Haumanu travelled across the motu, speaking with people who could recall any snippet or memory they had of taonga puoro.

“The way they went around and talked to kaumatua and gathered up the stories from the people, it’s a pretty remarkable story really,” Ariana Tikao of Maianginui says.

“I find it quite interesting that it was both Pākehā and Māori involved as well and that we have these allies that have supported the tāonga to come back. It’s because of them dedicating decades of their lives that we are in the position we’re in now.”

Khali playing in her garden

Khali playing in her garden Photo: UGP / Jessie-Lee Robertson

When He Kākano Ahau first reached out to Maianginui regarding this season of the podcast, the collective were preparing for a performance with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra for the Auckland Arts Festival, however, due to COVID-19, this event was cancelled.

The collaboration between classical music and taonga puoro is a sphere Ruby Solly often works within.

She remembers the kōauau from primary school and is classically trained on the cello. She now combines her knowledge of these instruments in her mahi as a music therapist and an artist.

Ruby jokes about growing up a little Māori girl feeling she didn’t fit the mould, and now she continues to disrupt and decolonise these predominantly Pākehā spaces by integrating taonga puoro to her practice.

Ruby playing taonga pūoro

Ruby playing taonga pūoro Photo: UGP / Jessie-Lee Robertson

“These are the original classical instruments of Aotearoa, this is the original classical music of Aotearoa, the original folk music of Aotearoa is Māori music,” says Solly.

Music from Solly’s album Pōneke is featured throughout this season of He Kākano Ahau; Wawatatia.

A taonga pūoro collection

A taonga pūoro collection Photo: UGP / Jessie-Lee Robertson

Taonga Pūoro

Taonga Pūoro Photo: UGP / Jessie-Lee Robertson

Kahu and Ariana Tikao sit down to talk Taonga Pūoro

Kahu and Ariana Tikao sit down to talk Taonga Pūoro Photo: UGP / Jessie-Lee Robertson

About He Kākano Ahau:

Kahu Kutia

Kahu Kutia Photo: UGP / Dylan Cook

After co-winning Best Episodic/Recurrent Podcast at the 2020 Voyager Media Awards, activist, writer and uri of Ngai Tūhoe, Kahu Kutia returns with season two. She leads a close-knit team across the motu in search of stories woven together by whakapapa and desire to be and exist bigger and better.

This season’s creative team also includes producer and editor, Melody Thomas, of the award-winning sex and sexuality podcast BANG!, journalist, producer and editor Frances Morton continues with He Kākano Ahau alongside producer and award-winning filmmaker Ursula Williams as the podcast’s executive producers. Te Hira Mayall-Nahi (Ngāti Whatua ki Kaipara, Te Rarawa) and Briar Pomana (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Rakaipaaka), came on board in teina roles to assist with production.

Made with the support of NZ On Air

He Kākano Ahau: Wawatatia is a seven-episode series, including two episodes in te reo Māori. Our target audience is young Māori, but we hope the stories make space for everyone to listen in.

He Kākano Ahau: Wawatatia

Photo: UGP