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Extending the Kīngitanga music tradition

1 August 2014

Extending the Kīngitanga music tradition

Waikato PhD candidate Te Manaaroha Rollo has discovered a way to integrate waiata, taonga pūoro and New Zealand electroacoustic music to make a new form of indigenous hybrid music – one that narrates the history and stories about the Kīngitanga (Māori King Movement).

Te Manaaroha handed in her thesis last week and will be the first Māori of Ngāpuhi and Waikato descent to graduate from Waikato University with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Music.

Her thesis, titled ‘Tito Waiata-Tito Pūoro: extending the Kīngitanga music tradition’ was an extensive study of combining waiata, taonga pūoro and New Zealand electroacoustic.

“I looked at these separate musical idioms and found a way to fuse them together to generate a new model, and create new works, that extends Māori and Kīngitanga music traditions,” says Te Manaaroha.

Te Manaaroha, who has a strong music and teaching background, was interested in the interface between western and Maori music.

“Western music is very conceptually structured, where as traditional Maori music is very tied to nature.”

The inspiration for this research came from 35 years of attending, observing and listening to waiata and pūoro at many gatherings of the Kīngitanga including Poukai, Koroneihana, Regatta and tangihanga throughout the Waikato and Tainui region.

She says that the aim of her research was to merge together Māori, Kīngitanga and Western music traditions and extend Kīngitanga music beyond its traditional origins to serve new purposes.

“The new framework and practical model for composing indigenous hybrid music may guide contemporary composers in creating new innovative works.”

Associate Professor Ian Whalley, chief supervisor for the thesis, notes that “the thesis not only extends the local Kīngitanga music tradition, but also contributes to the international efforts of indigenous composers now exploring the new possibilities that electroacoustic music presents.”

Te Manaaroha managed to complete her doctorate whilst working as the HOD of music at Melville High School, and having a teaching load as a lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Waikato.

With her thesis completed, Te Manaaroha looks towards writing articles, presenting at conferences, playing her new compositions at music festivals and composing new hybrid music works.

“One of my aspirations is to travel the world and record other cultural music and their environments, and working collaboratively with other indigenous composers in creating new innovative works,” she says.


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