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Ko te Kōauau: Its historical journey, aspects of construction, socio-cultural relevance, and performance

In recent years there has been a revival of interest in traditional Māori musical instruments, including the Kōauau (sometimes called a flute ). Most of the information on record is from Pākehā perspectives of music and culture. This thesis studies Kōauau in a Māori framework, giving weight to traditional Māori knowledge and practices, while bringing together much scattered information. The research links the origins/whakapapa of the Kōauau to the gods and their natural world, especially Hineraukatauri. The thesis analyses the materials used for Kōauau, the circumstances under which materials were acquired, their significance, design and methods of construction, and the tools employed in making Kōauau. The study discusses techniques for playing Kōauau, including its range of sounds, occasions on which they were played, and for what purposes they were used. Reference is made to the story of Hinemoa and Tūtānekai, with the suggestion that more knowledge can be drawn from pakiwaitara and pūrākau. As part of the research, several Kōauau available in the Auckland Museum were examined, showing that close inspection of these taonga significantly extended the information on them held by the Museum. Despite the constraints of the research in terms of time and other resources, the thesis makes an important contribution to knowledge, by collating widely distributed documentation into a concise form, by placing the Kōauau into a Māori perspective, emphasizing the spiritual dimensions of the instrument in its origins and its function, and by indicating what kinds of further research will assist in strengthening the revival of the Kōauau.
Type of thesis
Komene, J. (2008). Ko te Kōauau: Its historical journey, aspects of construction, socio-cultural relevance, and performance (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11641
The University of Waikato
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