New album and a kōrero with local Māori songbird


Christchurch musician Ariana Tikao has recently moved to Wellington and is the new Research Librarian, Māori in the Alexander Turnbull Library (Arrangement & Description team). She has just released a new album, From Dust to Light, and celebrated with a pre-release gig at Te Papa recently. We asked her some questions about her whakapapa, her music and her new album.

We hear you’ve recently moved up from Christchurch. What brought you up here and how has the shift been for you?
The job really brought me here, but I have to say, that the earthquakes did have a part to play in creating the idea for a change. I do miss family and Christchurch, but it has been a great move for my career. Working at the Turnbull is a bit of a dream job. Also a new music scene and access to new musicians to collaborate with is really positive.

Have you noticed any differences in the music scene between here and Christchurch?
Um, there are not many venues left in Christchurch now. I haven’t really had time to delve into the music scene here yet in a big way, but I really enjoyed working with Lee Prebble at the Surgery, and I am loving working with Ben Lemi Wood who I collaborated with on the album, and also the other musicians who played on the album: Al Fraser, Brooke Singer and Charley Davenport. I think just being in the North Island now is going to open up new opportunities for me in terms of festivals to play at etc.

In what ways have you drawn on your Māori lineage for inspiration for your music?
It is quite a major theme really. It is my main inspiration. I love singing in Te Reo Māori, it has a real wairua of its own, and I find it very emotional. Many of the stories from my whānau or iwi come through as stories or themes in my music.

What’s your musical background? You play taonga puoro; how did you get into that? What other instruments do you play?
I don’t have a background in western music theory, but lately I have been playing taonga puoro, which I have had an interest in for a long time now. Brian Flintoff makes most of my instruments. They are each a taonga as individuals and you need to get to know them all individually as no two instruments are the same. I also play the Appallachian dulcimer which I really love for its delicate sound, and it is pretty easy to play. Mine was made by Ian Davie of Singing Wood.

Is there a story behind your new album; does it have a theme?
Yes. The title was inspired by a picture of Christchurch from the February 2011 earthquake, where dust rose above the city from the fallen buildings. It is a very powerful image. When I was still living in Christchurch last year, it felt very dark and bleak in the middle of winter and I wrote the song ‘Let there be light’ as a song of hope and encouraging us to move beyond the despair. That became the overall theme of the album ‘From Dust to Light’ but also the subtheme of reviving old knowledge and breathing life into it and bringing it into the present.

Tell us about your job at the Alexander Turnbull Library? What are your favourite parts of your job?
I work in the Arrangement and Description team which is largely a ‘backroom’ kind of activity describing what is in the unpublished collections. We receive collections from donations or purchase and usually need to re-house them into acid-free folders etc and make new records and descriptions for them. I specialise in Māori collections, and really love it. I am working on a new collection of James Cowan papers at present. He was a writer in the first half of the 20th century, and did a lot of writing about Māori culture and NZ history. He even interviewed my Great-Grandfather Teone Taare Tikao. There is a waiata on my new album inspired by a story that our Poua gave to Cowan.

Do you have any up-coming Wellington gigs we can get along to? Where can we find out more?
I will be performing again in Wellington in February (or possibly before then). Eva Street Studio, 2 Eva Street, Wellington on Saturday February 16 2013.  People can keep an eye on my website for details.

While Ariana’s From Dust to Light hasn’t hit the library shelves yet, we do have a previous album, Tuia, for you to enjoy. You can reserve it here!

MI0002035926 Tuia / Ariana Tikao.

We also have the book Tikao Talks, which contains stories from Ariana’s great-grandfather, Teone Taare Tikao. Ariana says the stories are a great source of inspiration for her, and that some of the waiata on her Tuia album are directly inspired by the book.

Tikao talks : ka taoko tapu o te ao kohatu : treasures from the ancient world of the Maori / told by Teone Taare Tikao to Herries Beattie.
Contains many traditions and beliefs never before recorded. As an old man, Teone Taare Tikao passed on to the author knowledge which he had gained as a young man from the old people. (adapted from

Another book which has inspired waiata for Ariana is Māori folk-tales of the Port Hills, Canterbury, New Zealand by James Cowan. A story and some lyrics in the book inspired her song Titi Whakatai Arorua, which features on her new album From Dust to Light. Ariana says she loves “bringing old korero to light so they can help form our identity now, and into the future.”



Photos courtesy of Françoise Padellec.

Christchurch Remembered

With the one year anniversary of the devastating Christchurch earthquake recently remembered, our picks of the recent New Zealand books this month  include a number of new books on Christchurch –  including a beautiful artist’s tribute to the buildings of Christchurch,  stories of people trapped during the earthquake, and books that tell of  the ordeal of living in the city and dealing with the aftermath of the quake. (Also included, a few extra titles – including the revised and updated New Zealand Small Business Book.)

Syndetics book coverChristchurch : an artists’ tribute / compiled by Denis Robinson.
“Denis Robinson has compiled a moving tribute to Christchurch with a collection of paintings of the city as it was before the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Many artists returned to old sketchbooks, to discover drawings still waiting to be painted, and these new artworks sit alongside paintings completed in earlier days and others sourced especially for inclusion in this book. With a foreword from Mayor Bob Parker, this is a book that will be treasured by Cantabrians and visitors to Christchurch alike.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverShaken, not stirred : family survival in a quake zone / Amanda Cropp.
“Imagine sharing a portable toilet with your neighbours for months on end, showering in a shipping container in the fire station car park, or travelling for three hours a day on six different buses to get to and from school. Such was life in post-quake Christchurch for Amanda Cropp and her family. Quake damaged roads make travel a nightmare. Yet despite all this, life carries on. The quakes have reinforced the importance of family and friends, and a sense of humour is indispensable. This book will make you laugh and cry. It is funny, provocative and poignant, and shows that living in a disaster zone brings communities together, that people do indeed step up and look after one another. This is a story about the resilience of a community suddenly struggling with the simplest of daily chores in a time of crisis.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTrapped : remarkable stories of survival from the 2011 Canterbury earthquake / Martin van Beynen ; foreword by Bob Parker.
“The Canterbury earthquake of February 2011 altered landscape, history, and most importantly, human lives. Many perished and the lives of thousands were upended. In Trapped, Martin van Beynen documents with sensitivity and unerring detail the personal experiences of more than thirty quake survivors – before, during and after the event – in their own words.At once poignant, dramatic and enthralling, their stories record a defining moment in Canterbury’s history and testify to the courage and heroism of everyday people.”  (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Magnitude 7.1 & 6.3 : the people of Christchurch, Canterbury & beyond tell their stories / [compiled by Debbie Roome].
“This book is a compilation of stories from people directly affected by the impact of the earthquakes in Christchurch. They reflect the incredible resiliance the people of Canterbury have shown throughout this devastating time. Some of the stories are poignant, some humorous, some shocking and some sad. All of them are from the heart and deserve to be heard.” (Adapted from back cover)

Syndetics book coverFrom crank handles to hydraulics : a history of cranes in New Zealand / by John Carter.
“Cranes of various shapes and sizes have helped shape our nation dating back from around 1840 and today rank as the most familiar item of equipment involved on construction and other sites throughout the country. This book is the first ever produced in New Zealand detailing how cranes and other lifting devices have evolved over the decades. It is an easy read for people of all ages and includes how cranes assisted in the colonisation of New Zealand via the ports and railways and mentions of some of the country’s historical events which necessitated the use of cranes.”  (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe small business book : a New Zealand guide for the 21st century / Leith Oliver, John English.
“Completely revised and updated edition of the bestselling guide to starting, managing, and expanding a small business in New Zealand. The Small Business Book is the bestselling, hands-on guide to running your own business in New Zealand. This new edition is up-to-date, easy to understand and simple to use. New ventures are being launched in greater numbers than ever before, and the prospects for success offer hope and a sense of fulfilment to New Zealanders who want to be self-employed. The Small Business Book has been written to help you get into business, successfully stay in business and make a good living from being in business.”  (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Christchurch Bus Mission on its way

Thank you to everyone who donated toiletries, bedding, and non-perishable food for the Christchurch Bus mission.
As you can see with from the clip below, we’ve been lucky to have some students from Wellington College as well as some of our library staff members and members of the public to help loading the bus.
We were not able to fit it all in the bus, so we will be adding the remainder to a container that is going down later this week.