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SOUNZ-NZCF Te Reo Māori Award: Te Pūoho Ki Te Rangi

This week we were delighted to be part of the presentation of the newly created SOUNZ-NZCF Te Reo Māori Choral Composition Award to the inaugural winner Jade Ponga, a Year 13 student at New Plymouth Girls’ High School.

Introduced this year by SOUNZ Centre for NZ Music in partnership with NZCF, the Te Reo Māori Choral Composition Award was established to encourage our young NZ composers to write choral settings of a text in te reo Māori. The presentation ceremony saw the unveiling of the trophy, a beautiful pūtōrino created by taonga pūoro player and maker Tāmihana Kātene, who spoke to the significance of its provenance.

Tāmihana Kātene (Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Koata, Te Taoū – Ngāti Whatua) has named this pūtōrino Te Pūoho Ki Te Rangi, which means “the awakening of the heavens.”

Tāmihana says: “In its base concept, Te Pūoho Ki Te Rangi connects the language of our people (Te Reo Māori) to the language of our Atua, the language of nature. The pūtōrino in Māori tradition is the home of Hine Raukatauri our Atua of flute music and is the source of her song. When used as a musical instrument the pūtōrino transforms the breath of the player into the voice of the Atua creating a tangible link between humankind and nature. It is this connection that embodies the Māori cultural philosophy of balance and respect. Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori | The language is the life force of Māori dignity.”

This stunning pūtōrino has been made from a piece of 10,000-year-old swamp kauri from Waipapakauri, and the carved designs are kiri-kiore patterns, imitating the swish of a Pacific rat’s tail in the sand.

Toni Huata (Ngāti Kahungunu, Rongowhakaata), Director of Māori Music at SOUNZ talked earlier this year about the various special connections with Tāmihana Kātene and Te Pūoho Ki Te Rangi. The pūtōrino takes its name from his grandfather, Te Pūoho Kātene, who was a prolific composer of choral works and a board member when SOUNZ was founded in 1991. The name of this new pūtōrino also links back to his ancestor, the Ngāti Tama chief Te Pūoho-ki-te-rangi.

The taonga for this new composition award has connected people past and present, and will continue to connect people with te reo Māori through the composing of choral works for this annual award.

Winning composer Jade Ponga says: “Music has always played a significant role in my life; it is how I connect with my whānau, my roots and my community. Having music as a subject along with productions, orchestra and most importantly the Jubilate choir, the highlight of my Thursday afternoons and high school years, all helped me to flourish on my musical journey and for that I am truly grateful. Ehara taku toa, he takitahi, he toa takitini. My success should not be bestowed onto me alone, as it was not individual success but success of a collective.”

Click on the video below to hear her winning composition Me Aroha :