Pounamu taonga puoro

Taonga puoro made of pounamu have a distinctive sound. Their voices are clear, sharp and bell-like.

Few examples of pounamu taonga puoro exist in museum collections today. But it is likely that nephrite pounamu was used to make a range of instruments.

Contemporary taonga puoro masters such as Richard Nunns play a variety of pounamu taonga puoro. This korero has been provided by Richard Nunns to accompany the soundscape featured in the Kura Pounamu exhibition:

Listen to Richard's introduction:

1. Pahu pounamu

A gong made from a large sliver of pounamu, which is struck and rings likes a bell.

There are several fragments of korero relating to pahu pounamu. It was used on Maungakiekie to sound out across the isthmus, where it could be heard simultaneously in the Waitemata and Manukau harbours.

Listen to Richard Nunns about pahu pounamu:

Listen to the sound of pahu pounamu:

Richard Nunns plays a pahu pounamu, 2009. Te Papa
Richard Nunns strikes a pahu pounamu, 2009. Te Papa

2. Rara (rattle)

A rattle, made of a flax kete filled with small pebbles of pounamu.

Listen to Richard Nunns about rara:

Listen to the sound of rara:

Richard Nunns plays a rara, 2009. Te Papa
Richard Nunns shakes a rara, 2009. Te Papa

3. Tumutumu

A percussion instrument made from a pounamu mere.

The tumutumu is very much a southern instrument not always made of stone. It was, used particularly in whare wänanga (houses of learning) to accompany intoned learning's.

Listen to Richard Nunns about tumutumu:

Listen to the sound of tumutumu:

Richard Nunns plays a tumutumu, 2009. Te Papa
Richard Nunns strikes a tumutumu, 2009. Te Papa

4. Koauau pounamu (flute)

A small three-holed flute made of pounamu. the sound quality is sharp, direct and clear.

Listen to Richard Nunns about koauau:

Listen to the sound of koauau:

Richard Nunns plays a koauau pounamu, 2009. Te Papa
Richard Nunns plays a koauau pounamu, 2009. Te Papa

5. Nguru (flute)

A small curved flute, with a different sound to the koauau.

Listen to Richard Nunns about nguru:

Listen to the sound of nguru:

Richard Nunns plays a nguru, 2009. Te Papa
Richard Nunns blows a nguru, 2009. Te Papa

6. Karanga manu

A bird caller made from inanga pounamu.

Listen to Richard Nunns about karanga manu:

Listen to the sound of karanga manu:

Richard Nunns plays a karanga manu, 2009. Te Papa
Richard Nunns plays a karanga manu, 2009. Te Papa

7. Porotiti

A spinning disk that catches the wind and sounds like breath. It is used to accompany karakia and as a healing object.

Listen to Richard Nunns about porotiti:

Listen to the sound of porotiti:

Richard Nunns plays a rara, 2009. Te Papa
Awhina Tamarapa spins a porotiti, 2009. Te Papa

Soundscape

Listen to a sample of the soundscape developed for the Kura Pounamu exhibition by Richard Nunns and Steve Garden, in 2009:

 

All tracks on this page are reproduced courtesy of Richard Nunns.