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Visiting taonga pūoro in collections

Researchers Frederick Temo and Maramena Tuna visited the Maori collections as part of their research with Dr. Jennifer Cattermole (University of Otago.) They took detailed measurements and photos of a number of Maori musical instruments, or taonga pūoro, including carved wooden flutes and raupo fiber poi balls. Five flutes were temporarily removed from exhibit in the Regenstein Halls of the Pacific to enable closer examination.

Dr. Cattermole says, “I am one of the co-primary investigators (the other being Maui Solomon, chair of the Hokotehi Moriori Trust) on a research project titled ‘The origins and development of pre-European contact musical instruments in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Rēkohu (Chatham Islands).’ This study, which is being funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand (UOO-1622), aims to discover how the first southern Polynesian colonists of New Zealand and the Chathams – and their descendants – adapted tropical musical instruments and traditions to the new resources of a large, cool-seasonal continental island group. A key aspect of this mahi (work) involves documenting the taonga pūoro (traditional musical instruments) held in museum collections around the world. We aim to learn a lot about the instruments’ age and place of manufacture by examining their carving styles, manufacture techniques and materials, and (where available) provenance information.”

Four Maori flutes, pictured in their exhibit case in the Regenstein Halls of the Pacific.

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