Beginning on the 31st of March a group of local and visiting musical artists will embark on a unique journey down the Whanganui River. Rather than just taking in the natural beauty of the river and the national park the group will be recording traditional Maori musical instruments, known collectively as Taonga Pūoro, along the way. Performers include Ariana Tikao, Alistair Fraser, Elise Goodge, TP Tichbon, Sacha Keating and Brad McMillan.
Using the latest in portable, digital recording devices they will use the river, tributaries and caves as an audible back drop for these recordings and as inspiration for a series of new compositions inspired by the river itself. The resulting compositions and recordings will be turned into an album due for release in July of this year.
By using traditional Māori instruments the group hope to gain an insight into how both wind and percussive instruments resonate in the close river valleys and the impact that water has on these sounds. The iwi and hapū that populate the upper and lower reaches of the Whanganui River are known for their unique percussive history, singing prowess and quintessential rhythmic patterns. The album will weave all of these inspirations and history with contemporary musical forms and instruments to create something modern yet infused with the traditional.
Project coordinator Elise Goodge says, “This project has now taken on a new meaning for us. When the concept was hatched during the 2015 flood we could never have known that we would be embarking on this journey the same month that the Te Awa Tupua Settlement Bill would be passed into law. I think that reaching this milestone after the longest litigation in New Zealand history will add a sense of joy and celebration to the whole project.”
A taste of these new compositions and recordings will be performed free to the public on Thursday 6 April at Koriniti Marae on the Whanganui River Road. The concert will begin at 6.30pm with an introduction to Taonga Pūoro including a scavenger hunt, storytelling and hands on demonstrations. At 7.30pm the group will perform their compositions for the first time to an audience.