20 Feb 2014

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Maori instruments gain international acclaim

Performing at the 2013 Singapore Grand Prix alongside Rihanna, Tom Jones, Justin Bieber and Bob Geldof, was just one of the highlights of an extraordinary year for taonga pūoro musician and composer, Horomona Horo.

His group Waiora, with guitarist Josh Rogers, brought traditional Māori instruments to audiences in three continents in 2013, from humble tearooms to leading festivals, with support from a range of arts agencies, including Creative New Zealand.

Their Singapore performance followed European concerts and lectures at the prestigious chamber music Konvergencie Festivals in Kosice, Slovakia, the 2013 European Culture Capital.

Waiora were also the first New Zealanders in more than a decade to perform at the World Music Expo in Cardiff. This was the first time taonga pūoro had been played at the Expo; the largest annual gathering of the world music community.

Horo has relished the opportunity  to “combine the ancient Māori voice with the ancient voice of other cultures; the weaving of the spiritual thread to create unity in music”. “Kia waiata ngātahi te reo tahito Māori me te reo tahito o iwi kē atu, he kōtuituia o te aho wairua, he whakakotahitanga I te puoro.”

This month Horo will perform at the New Zealand Festival in ambitious Requiem for the Fallen commemorating World War I, with the New Zealand String Quartet and the Voices New Zealand chamber choir. Working alongside composer Ross Harris, he has written the Māori voice for the piece. In July, Horo will perform as part of the opening celebrations for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Horomona Horo and Wairoa also received support from Sounds Aotearoa, the British Council New Zealand, the New Zealand Music Commission, Music Live and Vivante Recording. “We are thankful and appreciate all the wonderful support. Kia ora koutou katoa.’’


Biography: Horomona Horo was mentored by the late Dr Hirini Melbourne and by Dr Richard Nunns, who are both credited with the revival of taonga puoro. Horo first came to public attention in 2001 when he won the inaugural Dynasty Heritage Concerto Competition using a range of taonga pūoro. Since then, he has performed around the world, devoting the past 13 years to the study and practise of the instruments. His collaborations as both composer and performer are diverse, including the NZ Trio; Voices New Zealand Choir; New Zealand Chamber Soloists; Moana and the Tribe; Fat Freddy’s Drop; Maisey Rika and composers including Gareth Farr, Paul Lewis and Victoria Kelly. Horomona Horo is based in Hamilton.

For more information on Horomona Horo

Notes for editors: Taonga pūoro is the collective term for a wide range of traditional Māori wind, percussive and string instruments made from natural materials such as bone, pounamu and shell. They include the kōauau (Māori flute) or putātara (Māori trumpet).

For more information of the NZ Festival’s Requiem for the Fallen


For media enquiries, please contact:

Rebecca Lancashire, Senior Communications Adviser, Creative New Zealand

Mob: +64 27 677 8070

DDI: +64 4 478 0725 

E: rebecca.lancashire@creativenz.govt.nz