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Māori Music Group Bring Taonga Pūoro To The Forest

Ororuarangi Live Filming Group Shot

Newly formed Māori music collective ‘IA’ has united nature and music with a taonga pūoro (traditional Maori instruments) performance in the forest. The band held an intimate concert in the Pukemokemoke Bush Reserve in front of a live audience, as a creative way to debut their new single, ‘Ororuarangi’.

The audience was invited to the bush setting and each person was given a set of wireless headphones to hear the performance while it was being simultaneously recorded. Audience member Amanda Harper said the event was a dreamlike experience. "Listening to the band play live while we wore the headphones in the middle of the bush was a surreal experience. It allowed us to become intimately involved with the music that was being created in that space. As a Māori, listening to our traditional instruments in the ngahere (forest) made me feel nostalgic and imagine a time long ago, I would love to experience it again!"

IA compose contemporary music with the use of traditional instruments at the centre of their compositions. This particular song features the voice of the putorino, a traditional flute, whose shape resembles the case moth, who embodies Hineraukatauri the atua (goddess) of music. It was this connection to the case moth which led to the forest being the chosen location for the song's debut performance.

The song ‘Ororuarangi’ can be described as a dynamic yet calming composition which takes you on a journey exploring traditional instruments and originative sound design techniques. The lyrics are inspired by band member Reti Hedley's late mother, Rangiiria Hedley and her work in the revitalisation of taonga pūoro during her life.

Prominent weaver and Waikato ruruhi, Tuahana Clark also attended the live forest performance and enjoyed the experience. “Firstly, it was a different and exciting experience. Secondly, my heart cried out to his (Reti’s) ancestors of Tūwharetoa and his mother. The music brought a sense of calm to those who were in the forest.”

The three members of IA, Turoa Pohatu, Reti hedley and Moetu Smith, are passionate about uplifting their culture and inspiring others to continue the exploration of Taonga Pūoro. They have been discovering new frontiers with traditional instruments by using taonga pūoro as the driving force in their creative process.

Band member, Reti Hedley, says he wants to display the taonga in a new way, ”most Māori instruments are used to create ambient sound effects or sprinkles in a song. We want to reframe how taonga are being used and feature them as the main element in our music.”

Funded by the Waikato District Council, the live forest performance was filmed and can be viewed on the IA Facebook Page and Youtube channel. Ororuarangi is the band's second musical and the single and is available at all major music outlets including Itunes, Google Play, Spotify Apple Music and Bandcamp from February 11th.

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