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Hine-pu-te-hue translates literally as the woman of the sound of the gourd, and she is the Māori goddess of peace. The work was written in 2001, at the time of President Bush's State of the Union address shortly before the invasion of Afghanistan, and suggests the fragility rather than the celebration of peace, particularly in a pre-European environment.
A number of instruments used in Hine-pu-te-hue are made of gourds - the gourd, which carried food and water, is a symbol of peace. These include the poi awiowhio, a very quiet bird lure which is swung around the head, the tiny kōauau ponga ihu or noseflute which ends the piece, the hue puru hau, a large gourd which is blown across its top opening and the gourd rattles played by the quartet. Two other wind instruments frequently made from gourds, the nguru and the ororuarangi, are also used. Other instruments are the pūtātara or conch shell trumpet, traditionally used for signalling, the pu kaea or war trumpet, a nguru niho paraoa or flute made from a whale's tooth, the pumotomoto, associated with birth, and tumutumu (tapped percussion).
There is a similarity between the stringed instruments of the quartet and the gourds, in that they are made from plant material, with sound emitted through sound holes. Another link is the ku, the only stringed instrument known to Maori, which is a small musical bow played like a jaws harp (jews harp) using the mouth as a resonating chamber. The idea of ororuarangi, which can be translated as spirit voice (or double stopping in a different context) has had some influence on this piece as in the parallel movement of the strings.
Commissioned by the NZ International Festival 2002 for the NZ String Quartet and Richard Nunns
14 Mar 2002: Performed by Richard Nunns and the New Zealand String Quartet at the Ilot Theatre in Wellington
15 May 2005: Performed by Richard Nunns and New Music Works during New Zealand Day in the New Zealand garden of the Arboretum at the University of California, Santa Cruz, USA
27 Mar 2009: Performed by the New Zealand String Quartet with Richard Nunns in Washington, DC in the legendary Library of Congress series on Friday. ‘Concerts from the Library of Congress’ is one of the world’s most historic and famous concert series
31 Mar 2012: Spiritual Journeys: New Zealand String Quartet
Performed by Richard Nunns (taonga puoro) and the New Zealand String Quartet
Performed by the New Zealand String Quartet with Richard Nunns (taonga puoro)