Instruments from Rakiura Wild Creations : Tumutumu

Editor’s note:

Librarian and artist Alistair Fraser had his final two week stay at Mason Bay, Rakiura/Stewart Island on a DOC/CNZ Wild Creations Artist Residency in December. You can read his previous posts about his stay on this blog, or visit his Taonga Puoro blog where he’s been documenting the instruments he’s created as part of this residency.

Alistair says:

tumutumu koiwi upokohue
tumutumu kōiwi upokohue

The tumutumu is a percussion instrument that has kōrero linking it to the southern parts of New Zealand. It is typically a found instrument.

This tumutumu kōiwi upokohue is a pilot whale’s lower jaw bone with a rata striker that was also found on the beach at Mason Bay. It has a variety of voices and tones depending on what part of the instrument is played. The density striker material also influences the tone.

Thanks to Kaitiaki Roopu o Murihiku for kindly giving me the permission to hold this taoka.

More of the instruments I have made on my DOC/CNZ Wild Creations residency can be viewed here:

Taonga Puoro Mason Bay residency December – Putorino tutu rakau

Ive just returned from my final two weeks staying at Mason Bay, Rakiura/Stewart Island on a DOC/CNZ Wild Creations Artist Residency. I will be posting some photos of the instruments I made in this time.

This putorino is made from tutu rakau and has kanohi (faces) based on an artifact pendant that was found on Rarotoka (Centre Island) Foveaux Strait. It plays well!

(Read Alistair’s previous DOC/CNZ Wild Creations Artist Residency posts)

Putorino tutu rakau
Putorino tutu rakau

Stewart Island Artist Residency


This was my second trip to Mason Bay as part of 2011 DOC/CNZ Wild Creations Artists Residency. This time I concentrated on making. Here are some examples of what I made.

For this karanga manu I used the tuwiri drill to fashion the cup and for the relief carving I used metal scrapers and some nails I found in the workshop. The original is in Otago Museum and is rather famous.

The porutu is a longer open end cross blown instrument and is very much an instrument used in Murihiku. Here are two made from tutu and one from albatross wing bone.

The putorino is mentioned in Traditional Lifeways of the Southern Maori J.H. Beattie by his informants. Here is one made from tutu rakau in a northern style.

Tokere are played by putting the pikao loops go over the fingers and playing in a similar way to castenets. These shells are from the mouth of Martin Creek and the pikao is from Big Sandhill behind Hill Homestead

Here is a link to my taonga puoro blog  with extra content.

I was playing porutu to a tui when half a dozen bellbirds turned up and had a sing along. Listen here


Wild creations artists’ residency: trip report

I recently spent a few weeks on Rakiura/Stewart Island as part of a  six week residency which will be spent researching southern Maori musical instrument possibilities, gathering materials, making instruments and then recording them on location around Rakiura. I will also be making reconstructions of Maori musical instruments found in museum collections that have providence from Murihiku (Otago), Ruaumogo (Fiordland) and Rakiura.

My first day on Stewart Island was spent at Oban where I took a trip out to Ulva Island bird sanctuary. I found some seaweed pods that can be played as karanga manu (bird callers) and found that the local fantails were pretty interested in the sounds produced.

Next day I flew by helicopter (!) to Hill Homestead at Mason Bay where I was to spend the next 11 days, gathering materials, making instruments and recording.

First on my list of things to do was to make a tuwiri (traditional Maori drill). I found a straight manuka stick and built four cross bars from inanga wood. I used a piece of vine to create a hoop that lies on the cross bar and provides momentum and balance to the tuwiri. I bound these parts together with twine. At first I experimented making pakohe (argillite) drill bits using a grossularite garnet hammer stone, with average success. I had better luck using quartz that I found on a granite outcrop behind Hill Homestead.

I kept on experimenting, drilling some soapstone using the tuwiri, with the aim of making a replica of a karanga manu (bird caller) in Otago Museums’ collection found at Glenorchy near Queenstown. I got some pretty good holes fairly quickly and then shaped the outside of the karanga manu using a flat granite grind stone.

I also made quite a few instruments from found objects, mostly found on the beach. I was lucky enough to find a Mollymawk Albatross from which I made this koauau (flute).

shell-koauau1bAnd these shells play rather well as koauau too.

flax-flower-stem1So does this flax flower stem.

I visited Mason Bay Beach every second day or so to see what had been washed up, and the variety from day to day was note worthy. One day it was mostly wood, the next kelp, another it was birds.

drying-kelp-stipes2aI did some preliminary experiments making instruments with kelp. I have left some koauau and a trumpet experiment to dry over the next month. Hopefully they will give me some results when I return.
I’m off back to Rakiura the first two weeks of April so I will keep you posted what I make next!