In 2011 I was awarded a Wild Creations Artist Residency. I chose to be based at Island Hill Homestead, Mason Bay, on Rakiura/Stewart Island. There I researched, gathered materials, made and recorded taoka pūoro, the musical instruments of the Maori. As inspiration for the instruments I made, I researched and studied the many taoka that have been found in Murihiku (Southland and the South Otago area), Dunedin and Otago environs, Ruaumoko (Fiordland area) and the Rakiura/Stewart Island area. I talked to some very informed people who led me into looking at instruments I had not considered previously and experimenting with materials and tools in new (but old) ways. Some materials I used washed up on the beaches of the Mason Bay area, some I found in the forest and some I took with me.
The west Rakiura environment is varied and unique. The materials I had available to construct the taoka directly reflect this diversity, and thus the music created with them is also drawn from the environment. I recorded a series of environmental improvisations in caves, gullies, streambeds, on the beach and in the workshop. I took these raw recordings back to Wellington where I mixed them down and also recorded and composed with some taoka that I hadn’t had the chance to record on Rakiura. This final recording consists of these 14 tracks, which document my time on Rakiura and my exploration of the sounds of the instruments I made there.
This album can be purchased from Alistair's Bandcamp here.
© Alistair Fraser