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The thing that struck me about Charm when I first read it, was the wonderful concept of the spirit of the land - te wairua o te whenua. The land is our mother, she cares for all of her children. We have all at some point in time been a stranger to this land, and as visitors, we have all been welcomed by her.
Charm is a poem from the mid 19th century, a time when all Europeans were recent visitors to the land. It is likely, however that this poem was a Maori charm originally, translated into English by settlers, suggesting that Maori also felt the same way about Aotearoa.
We now live in a unique multi-cultural society. Our many and varied contemporary art forms reflect this fact, and display something that could only be created here. This piece is a recognition of the similarities and differences of all of the cultures of New Zealand. It is a musical analogy to my idea that cultures can co-exist without overshadowing or changing one other. And finally, it is a musical celebration that we all have ended up here on the same soil.
Commissioned by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for the opening of Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of NZ
The text, 'Charm', an anonymous 19th Century poem is taken from '100 New Zealand Poems', edited by Bill Manhire and translated into Maori by Tamatai Ngarimu
14 Feb 1998: Performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Young with Mere Boynton (karanga), Virginia-Marie Stack (mezzo), Peter de Blois (tenor) at Te Papa Tongarewa/The Museum of New Zealand
27 Aug 2008: Olympic Cultural Festival Programme 2
Performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Young, with Deborah Wai Kapohe (mezzo-soprano), Richard Greager (tenor), and Mere Boynton (kaikaranga)