2018 Journal of New Zealand and Pacific Studies Publication

“Connecting with inner-landscapes: taonga pūoro, musical improvisation and exploring acoustic Aotearoa/ New Zealand” Sebastian Lowe and Alistair Fraser

Abstract:”When ngā taonga pūoro (traditional instruments of the New Zealand Māori) practitioners improvise music in the natural environment, they can be seen as explorers navigating and traversing the contours of the acoustic landscapes. As these practitioners come into dialogue with the non-humans of the natural environment, they are able to transform these relational experiences into sound phenomena, which in turn (re)create places that are meaningful to the practitioner and their audiences – human and other-wise. Taking a point of departure in a discussion between anthropologist Sebastian J. Lowe and renowned taonga puoro practitioner Alistair Fraser, this article looks at how Fraser enters into Te Ao Māori (the Māori world or dimension) and comes into dialogue with the entities of Te Ao Tūroa (the natural world). In 2013, Fraser released an album called Rakiura (Stewart Island), which he made as part of aCreative New Zealand/ Department of Conservation (DOC) Wild Creations Artist Residency. Throughout his six-week field research together with local iwi Ngai Tahu in 2011, Alistair researched, made and performed taonga pūoro from the area of southern Aotearoa/New Zealand. This article, which takes Fraser’s album as an ethnographic case study, aims to challenge the way we explore, expand and extend our appreciation of acoustic Aotearoa, thereby potentially opening up new spaces for understanding, interacting and ultimately respecting our environments.”

2017-2019 Otago University Rekohu/Chatham Islands Taonga Pūoro Research 

From 2017-2019 Alistair is a researcher on a team of five lead by Dr. Jennifer Cattermole from Otago University. The study will focus on the origins and development of pre-European contact musical instruments in Aotearoa (New Zealand), Rekohu and Rangiaotea (Chatham and Pitt Islands).

2016 Churchill Fellowship U.K. and Ireland Research

Alistair inspected 18 taonga pūoro over 11 museums and recorded 8 taonga pūoro.

Cuming Museum London, Saffron Walden Museum, Russell Coates Art Gallery and Museum Bournemouth, SCVA Norwich, National Museum of Ireland Dublin, Ulster Museum Belfast, University of Edinburgh, National Museums Scotland, Perth Museum and Art Gallery, University of Aberdeen King’s Museum and Great North Museum:Hancock in Newcastle.


Read the full report to The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust complete with measurements and descriptions.

Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Report – Alistair Fraser REVISED2.1

2015 U.K. Research

In 2015 Alistair studied collections at Horniman Museum London, British Museum, Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Pitt Rivers Oxford University.

2014 Okains Bay Māori and Colonial Museum Inspection and Recording

Alistair inspected and recorded the collection held at Okains Bay Māori and Colonial Museum for an octophonic installation piece ‘E Waru Reo Ki Kawatea’ held at The Auricle Sonic Arts Gallery, Christchurch in January 2015.

2011 Rakiura Wild Creations Artist Residency DoC/CNZ

In 2011 Alistair held a Wild Creations Artist Residency at Masons Bay, Rakiura/Stewart Island where he researched and created taoka pūoro from the environment based on research of taoka from Murihiku and surrounds.

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