Rangi Tūwhera opens the sky to taonga puoro

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Rangi Tūwhera - Open Sky is a virtual reality experience that offers users a glimpse into the world of taonga puoro or traditional Māori instruments.

It’s a free event at the Doc Edge Festival in Tāmaki Makaurau next week.

Co-director Dave Whitehead (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu) says one particular instrument that people will get to see is the pūtōrino, or bugle flute, an instrument made from two split pieces of wood, hollowed and bound together.

“We wanted to understand the world of the pūtōrino; the atua attached to it, the stories around it,” Whitehead says.

So the virtual experience includes Hineraukatauri, the goddess of the flute, helping viewers delve deeper into the story of pūtōrino.


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Modern technologies showcasing Māori knowledge help present Rangi Tūwhera to the world, says Whitehead.

“We can’t send a pūtōrino to someone’s house but … with Steam, Google, and those sorts of things, we might be able to have an experience where people can see all of these instruments and hold them in their hands.

"Anything, in my mind, that gets that out into the world is a good thing.”

People can enjoy Rangi Tūwhera at the Doc Edge Festival from June 23 to 26 in Tāmaki Makaurau, and June 30 to July 3 in Pōneke.