I’m happy to announce the launch of my latest album of recordings. These are recordings of taonga pūoro that are held in museums in the U.K.
In 2016 I was made a Churchill Fellow to travel to the U.K. and Ireland to inspect, photograph and record when allowed collections of taonga puoro held in museums there. I visited 11 museums, inspected 18 taonga and recorded 8 of them. This project follows on from recording the collection of taonga puoro held at Okains Bay Māori and Colonial Museum and Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology where I recorded their collections of ancient taonga puoro.
My thought behind this is that these instruments were made to be played, as all instruments are. They need to be played in order to preserve their voices and maintain their mana. My hope is that the more this happens, the more normal it will be for museums to allow this to happen for cultural events. This sometimes goes against many museums kaupapa which tends to be about preservation of the physical object as it was collected.
The research I do is also valuable to me as a maker and player. I find nuances and voices in these old instruments that I haven’t found in other taonga puoro which I aim for when I build instruments. I share my primary research with other makers and give talks as a way to disseminate my work into communities.