Book Review: Te Ara Puoro – A journey into the world of Maori music, by Richard Nunns with Allan Thomas

Available in bookstores nationwide.

I was excited to rip into this book, which arrived at my house wrapped in cardboard due to its size and weight. Te Ara Puoro is large, stunning and hugely informative – an engaging read cv_te_ara_puoroand visually brilliant.

When wanting to discover more about taonga puoro (Maori musical instruments), Pakeha school teacher Richard Nunns asked Rose Pere what she knew, and it wasn’t until a year later she responded while he played the flute, “You make those instruments speak like people. You remember you asked me about our traditional instruments? Well, if you are meant to find out you will.”

Te Ara Puoro chronicles Nunns’ journey to rediscover his musical passion, and uncover and learn more about Maori instruments. Going through the instruments, Nunns covers all types of materials: bone, wood, stone, gourds, and even leaves and reeds. Nunns gathered knowledge from elders all over New Zealand over the last 40 years to help him to revive, understand, recreate and master taonga puoro.

Te Ara Puoro is wonderfully illustrated throughout with fantastic photography (I wouldn’t expect anything less from Craig Potton Publishing), and comes with a CD. The images and CD themselves tell a story, giving the reader a real insight in to what taonga puoro looks and feels like.

This book is far more than just a coffee table book. It is highly specialised, and as such may not appeal to everyone. I think the publisher says it well – “[this book] will undoubtedly be the most important written resource in existence on the subject.”

It should be in every school, and every library, allowing everyone with an interest in Maori culture access to taonga puoro and Richard Nunns’ substantial and invaluable work in this area.

Reviewed by Kimaya McIntosh

Te Ara Puoro
by Richard Nunns, with Arthur Thomas
Published by Craig Potton Publishing
ISBN 9781877517785

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Te Ara Puoro – A journey into the world of Maori music, by Richard Nunns with Allan Thomas

  1. Pingback: Reviews of the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards finalists |

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