Whirimako Black (vocals)
Whirimako Black and Richard Nunns had discussed the idea of collaborating on a recording focused solely on taonga pūoro and vocals for some time, an album that would in many respects be a companion-piece to Richard and Hirini Melbourne’s landmark achievement, Te Ku Te Whe (1994). The idea came to fruition in December 2009 when poet Glenn Colquhoun invited Whirimako, Richard and Rattle's Steve Garden to record at his Waikawa Beach home. This beautifully evocative and emotional album is the result.
Te More is a tribute to one of Maoridom’s most famous early composers, Mahi-ki-te-kapua. The album consists of a selection of moteatea from Tuhoe, and pieces composed by Whirimako and Richard in the moteatea tradition. The concentrated simplicity and austerity of Te More situates it closely to Te Ku Te Whe. It is a work that connects the oldest and most revered traditions of waiata with the contemplative concentration of 21st century art music. Emotionally rich, texturally lush, this beautiful recording brings together two of our finest musical taonga.
Review by Nick Bollinger, NZ Listener
Is there a singer in this country more fearless than Whirimako Black? The dozen years since her first release (Hinepukohurangi: Children of the Mist, a collection of traditional waiata) have heard her singular voice in the company of Zimbabwean protest singers, uilleann pipers, funk bands, electronic collagists, swing trios and symphony orchestras.
And these wide-ranging collaborations never seem mere novelties. Whatever the song or the setting, Black seems to dig deep inside the music to bring out something personal and truthful. This is partly because of her passionate commitment to >em>te reo Maori, her first language. Whether she’s intoning the poetry of her ancestors or translated Pakeha pop songs, the connection to her culture is always implicit.
Te More finds her returning to her native tongue in collaboration with the master of taonga puoro (Maori instruments), Richard Nunns. It takes the form of two suites, which weave together new waiata by Black and Nunns with moteatea (traditional chants) dating back at least as far as the early 19th century.
Recorded by Steve Garden, whose masterful mixing really makes him an equal collaborator in this project, the whole thing unfolds dreamily and hypnotically. Nunns’s instruments (treated with electronic effects, without compromising the essential beauty of their acoustic tones and textures) dance around Black’s voice, sometimes like birds or insects in a forest, other times they might be spirits answering her across the ages.
Few have done as much for the revival of taonga pūoro than Richard Nunns. His commitment is total, and his passion deeply infectious. Composers and performers across the globe invite him to participate in a seemingly endless array of musical and cultural settings, and he is one of our most respected performers and researchers of Maori music and instruments. He has performed and recorded extensively in New Zealand and abroad, and across a wide range of musical genre, from jazz and free improv to contemporary pop and numerous dates with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
Richard began his research into taonga pūoro just prior to teaming up with Hirini Melbourne in the late 1980s. Their recordings Te Ku Te Whe and Te Hekenga-a-rangi have become seminal works of traditional Maori instrumental music. He is renowned for seeking out new ways of conversing with a variety of genres, styles and cultures, leading him to perform and record with numerous composers and performers from Iran, Korea, Bolivia, China, Turkey, Germany, Faroes, Italy, Poland, Finland, Scotland, and with Australian Aboriginals and First Nation Americans. He has also participated in a significant number of performances of contemporary classical works, written specifically for him.
He was awarded an honorary life membership of the New Zealand Flute Association, the KBB Citation for Services to New Zealand Music presented by the Composers Association of New Zealand, an honorary doctorate from Victoria University, Wellington, a QSM (Queens Service Medal) for services to taonga pūoro, admitted to the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame, and is an Artist Laureate of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.
“My initial interest in this project was that it offered an opportunity to create music that was stripped right back, and that consisted entirely of a conversation between a voice and a single instrument. Of course, Whirimako has an extraordinary voice, and the material naturally lends itself to this treatment. In my view, the resulting album, overseen by Rattle maestro Steve Garden, achieves everything we had hoped for, and more.” – Richard Nunns
Whirimako Black needs no introduction to those familiar with her extraordinary voice and impressive recorded output. Whirimako, of Ngai Tuhoe, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Ranginui, Kahungunu, Te Whakatohea, Te Whanau-a-Apanui, Te Arawa, and Ngati Awa descent, has six solo albums to her credit and has performed extensively throughout the country.
Her debut album, Hinepukohurangi: Shrouded in the Mist, won Best Maori Language Album at the 2001 NZ Music Awards, and is now approaching gold sales status. The inspiration for her second album, Hohou Te Rongo: Cultivate Peace, came from her daughter, Mihi Ki Te Kapua. "My whanau (family) are my puna - my source," says Whirimako. Her third album, the intimate Tangihaku, features guitarist Joel Haines and Whirimako’s long-time collaborator Justin Kereama on taonga pūoro. Her fourth, Kura Huna, is a beautifully evocative ‘soundscape’ featuring the internationally renowned oboe player, Russel Walder. Her groundbreaking bilingual jazz album, Soul Sessions, was the fastest-selling New Zealand jazz album of 2006, and was a finalist in the Best Jazz Album category at the 2007 New Zealand Music Awards. The follow-up, Whirimako Black Sings, continued the successful recipe of interpreting jazz standards with Maori language translations, and won Best Jazz Album at the 2008 New Zealand Music Awards. Whirimako continues to perform regularly in New Zealand and abroad.
“Maori is my first language, and music is my second. My mission is to promote Maori language and Maori art, and for the past fifteen years, I have dedicated my work (and first language skills) to helping to develop resources for Maori language speakers and those new to Te Reo.
Before I recorded my first Waiata Maori album, one person gave me hope that Maori language had an important place within New Zealand music culture, and that was my uncle Hirini Melbourne. His beautiful album, Te Ku Te Whe, was immeasurably important to me.
I first met Richard Nunns at Hirini’s tangihanga. There was immediate respect between us. We both share a mutual love of Maori (particularly Tuhoe) musical culture, and have often talked about recording a follow up to Te Ku Te Whe.
It is very exciting to be given the opportunity to work with Richard, Rattle and Steve Garden (who recorded Te Ku Te Whe, my favourite album). There are many stories to tell through music about Tuhoe and Tuhoe people today, and I wish to encourage all of our iwi singers and musicians to record this wealth of material for the generations to come.” - Noho ora mai Whirimako Black.
Mihi-ki-te-kapua was the greatest composer of the Tuhoe and Mataatua peoples. She was born at Ruatahuna during the last years of the 18th Century, and her hapu were Ngati Te Riu and Ngati Ruapani. Mihi-ki-te-kapua's fame as a composer steadily grew. As she lived alone (her husband had died and her children had grown up and moved away), most of her songs express the yearning of deep loneliness, and of being unable to turn to family for relief from solitude. One of her best-known compositions of this kind is He tangi mokemoke. As she grew older, the quality of her poetry developed, and her stature as a composer was widely acknowledged, particularly her skilful ability to express complex ideas and feelings with maximum clarity. Mihi-ki-te-kapua is thought to have died at Te Whaiti-nui-a-Toi between 1872 and 1880. A prolific composer, she is now regarded as one of the great exponents of moteatea, and her songs are still sung in Mataatua communities today.
Biographical details by Pou Temara
Prior to European contact, moteatea and waiata (chant and song) were essential for carrying knowledge (history, genealogy, etc.) in an oral culture. Sometimes guided by taonga pūoro (musical instruments), the chant was always monodic, and generally fell within the range of a minor third. From the early 19th Century, Maori music was actively discouraged, and replaced by hymn singing and European instrumentation, so only some of this music still exists (Nga Moteatea Vols 1-4).
The Lone Sentinel’s Song
E tangi haere ana-e!
Whai tokorua rawarawa-e!
Tenei ko au nei,
Kai te hua-kiwi
Mahue i te tawai
Ka toru te rakau kai runga.
Ka hoki mai ki te pao,
Ka whai uri ki ahau,
Noku ano ko te wareware,
Te whai ao, te tira haere
No Te Hirau.
Whakangaro ana nga hiwi-maunga
Kia ringia ki te roimata-e!
Kei te rere au
Ki Ohinemutu ra-e!
Ko au anake mahue iho-e
He heteri* kiritai ki te Matuahu,
Ki titiro noa atu ra ki waho,
He waka hera e rere atu ra.
Whakatika rawa ake ki runga ra,
Ka momotu ki tawhiti.
Ma wai ra e whai atu, i—a!
(Translation)No sound, no cry
But the titi-birds,
Calling through the dark,
Crying as they go!
They ever fly in pairs,
But I am here alone,
Like the kiwi’s solitary egg,
Lost in the tawai woods.
Three forest trees above my head.
Now I’ll arise, I’ll seek my friends,
By whom I am forgotten.
I’ll search for Hirau’s band;
Perhaps they are lost in the
Vast hills of Huiarau.
Fast fall my tears;
Would I could fly
To Ohinemutu, far, far away.
They left me here, lone sentinel,
On watch beside Matuahu’s scarped wall;
Watchful was I, gazing o’er the lake
For sign of sail of war canoe,
On Waikare’s dark sea.
I’d rise and seek my friends,
Those vanished ones,
But where shall I go? Ah me!
Statement from Glenn Colquhoun
One of the joys of my writing career has been to get to know both Whirimako and Richard over many years, and to share with them a passion for moteatea Maori. I consider Whirimako to be the voice of our generation in terms of her interpretation this genre, and Richard is the pre-eminent practitioner of taonga pūoro in the world.
More than this, both musicians are at points in their careers where they are able to bring to bear the full weight of their experience, and to articulate their various joys and pains with great emotional clarity in their music. The opportunity to bring them together to interpret New Zealand's own form of 'the blues' was irresistible. Each has the ability to both define the form, and to expand it. Both are national treasures, as are the body of songs they draw from.
Having been present during many of their musical interactions, all I can say is that when they play, no one else is in the room who isn't three hundred years old. I can think of few artists in our country who are deserving of more support. They are the best of us, and their music is a rare love story between Pakeha and Maori, and every ghost lying thick on the land.
Glenn Colquhoun is a doctor, poet and children's writer. His first poetry collection, The Art of Walking Upright, won Best First Book of Poetry at the 2000 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. In 2003 he won the Poetry Category and also became the first poet to be awarded the coveted Montana Readers' Choice Award. He has written several children’s books and has been the convener of the New Zealand Post Book Awards. In 2004, Glenn was the recipient of the Prize in Modern Letters. To visit Glenn's website, click here.
RAT-D028 (November, 2011)
Whirimako Black (vocals)
Te More Suite (20:53)
1 E Hine (5.38)
Ororuarangi Suite (15:47)5 Ororuarangi (3:12)
6 Hineraureka (4:12)
7 Te Toa (1:51)
8 Toroa (3:09)
9 E kui Kumara (3:16)
10 Kaore te po nei morikarika (9:50)
Tracks 1, 2, 7 composed by Whirimako Black © 2011
Tracks arranged by Whirimako Black, Richard Nunns and Steve GardenProduced and recorded by Steve Garden at the Waikawa Beach home of Glenn Colquhoun, mixed and mastered at the Garden Shed, Auckland, NZ
Design by UnkleFranc
Whirimako Black, Richard Nunns and Steve Garden would like to thank Dr Glenn Colquhoun for his enthusiastic and very generous support of this project.