About and Contact

Alistair’s contact email taongapuoro@gmail.com

Alistair is a widely respected player, composer, and researcher of ngā taonga puoro with a performance background that enables him to provide a sensitivity that suits the intimate nature of these remarkable instruments.

Orokonui Nunns Fraser Free
Al Fraser, Matua Richard Nunns and Paddy Free

Alistair Fraser has been researching, making, performing and composing with ngā taonga pūoro since 1999 and in his time has worked in a diverse range of art forms with Aotearoa’s top arts practitioners.

Te Whare Tapere Karetao Pūoro performance with Horomona Horo, James Webster, Jerome Mako, Aroha Yates-Smith and Al Fraser

In 2018 Al released his solo album Toitū Te Pūoro (Rattle Records) to wide acclaim and rave reviews. Toitū Te Pūoro was cited as one of the best albums of 2018 by mic.gr (Greece), gained a five star review from muzic.net.nz   an excellent review from Graham Reid at Elsewhere and was compared to works by NZ composition legends Lilburn and Rimmer.

“This is a poetic, mysterious, deep immersion album which could take the listener back in, and beyond, time and space.” Graham Reid.

Also in 2018 Al released two collaborative albums, Ponguru and Sheawater Drift.

Ponguru gained a 4/5 star review in U.K print magazine Songlines, toured with Chamber Music NZ’s show Te Korekore and in January 2019 played at Tilde New Music Festival, Melbourne, Australia. Music reviewer Simon Sweetman reviewed Ponguru here.

“And this shining example of “art” music won’t always be a comfortable listen, but it’s forever destined to be a worthwhile one.” Simon Sweetman.

Shearwater Drift has gained many positive reviews including comparisons to the works of New Zealand composer Douglas Lilburn.

In 2018 Al toured the show Te Korekore with Chamber Music NZ during Matariki. Al developed the show which included Al performing duo performances with double bassist Phil Boniface (Ponguru) and flutist Bridget Douglas (NZSO) with story telling by Rangimoana Taylor and video art by Ed Davis.

Al Fraser and Bridget Douglas performed HineRaukatauri (Dame Gillian Whitehead) at Government House for the Arts Foundation Awards Ceremony in 2018 at the request of composer Dame Gillian Whitehead who received an Arts Icon award that evening.

In 2017 Alistair toured with Ariana Tikao and NZ String Quartet with the Chamber Music NZ Matariki event ‘Te Oro o Ngā Whetū’.

‘Te Tatai Whetū’, a concert presented by STROMA in 2017 featured a collaborative composition by Alistair Fraser and Tristan Carter, ‘Ngaere’. Alistair also performed works by Whitehead (HineRaukatauri) , Lardelli (Musical Box), Brownlee/Tikao (Ko Te Tātai Whetū), Melbourne/Tikao (Amokura), Carter (Tohoraha) and Tikao (Ka Taka Te Mōtoi).

Also in 2017, Alistair began his three year position as a researcher for Otago University looking at Moriori and Māori taonga pūoro from Rekohu/Chatham Islands and was a kaiako (tutor) at a series of wānanga run by Horomono Horo, ‘Toku Reo, Toku Ohooho’ that focused on composing with and playing ngā taonga pūoro.

In 2016 Alistair performed with Patricia Grace and Aroha String Quartet for Chamber Music New Zealand’s 2016 Matariki Celebrations Te Marama, which featured his joint composition with Warren Warbrick for taonga pūoro, Te Marama. Alistair performed solo at CubaDupa, Coastella Music Festival, Dowse Art Gallery, and Opihi Taniwha Rock Art site for Ngai Tahu’s Te Ana Rock Art Museum Waitangi Day festivities.

Other past performances of note are Te Motutapu (February 2015) a dance choreographed by Louise Potiki-Bryant, Museums After Dark at Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (May 2015) and a season of This Other Eden (October 2014) an opera by Anthony Ritchie to which Fraser contributed ngā taonga pūoro parts.

In December 2014 Alistair toured with Ngai Tahu songstress Ariana Tikao and Richard Nunns.

In 2016 Alistair composed a work for taonga puoro and electronica Wai=Rua for the dance/theatre work Wai=Rua A Line=Near by Marty Roberts and Rua McCallum.

Alistair performed and composed works with Jeremy Mayall during Mayall’s time as Mozart Fellow at Otago University (2014-2015) producing four co-composed works by Mayall and Fraser, Along the River Run, He Korokoro Tui, Otakou Lullaby and Still.

In 2014 Alistair was commissioned by Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision to compose a twelve-minute work to accompany a showing of archival footage of traditional food gathering that toured South Island marae as Te Waipounamu Marae Film Tour: Otautaki Ki Awarua. Also in 2014, Fraser composed a work for ngā taonga pūoro and vocal for Te Papa Tongarewa and Ngati Toa Rangatira’s current exhibit at Te Papa Tongarewa Whiti Te Rā! This work was performed by Tāmihana Katene (taonga pūoro) and Wairere Ropata (vocal), both from Ngati Toa Rangatira.

In 2013 Matua Richard Nunns, Paddy Free and Alistair Fraser co-composed a 23-minute work for taonga pūoro and electronica for Orokonui Ecosanctuary.

Alistair contributed taonga pūoro peformances with ensemble ‘Reo’ (Horomono Horo, James Webster, Charles Royal and Paddy Free) and arrangements at all of Charles Royal’s Te Whare Tāpere ki Waimango 2010-2014.

Alistair was a 2016 Churchill Fellow. He traveled to the U.K. and Ireland to research collections of taonga pūoro held in eleven museums there. This follows on from his work in 2015 researching collections from four museums in the U.K. He recorded the collection of ngā taonga pūoro at Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology with an album of improvisations played with this collection released in June 2016. In 2015 Alistair released an album of recordings made at Okains Bay Māori and Colonial Museum using their collection of ngā taonga pūoro.

Alistair was a CNZ/DoC Wild Creations Artist in Residence 2011 on Rakiura/Stewart Island where he spent six weeks researching southern style taoka pūoro. He composed and recorded an album of music, Rakiura using the instruments that were researched and constructed during his stay.

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