Richard Nunns

Research Associate

Richard Nunns

Music Programme
School of Arts

Richard Nunns has been described as one of New Zealand's most remarkable musicians. A Pakeha (European New Zealander) who has become the living authority on Taonga Pūoro (Māori traditional instruments) his journey has required a great deal of respect, perseverance and sensitivity - characteristics that inevitably emerge in the depths of his own music. He has a long history of personal commitment to researching and presenting/ performing the traditional musical instruments of the Māori, and to organising this body of knowledge into a form which is immediately understandable to people in general, particularly Māori who have lost contact with such knowledge.

Taonga Pūoro defy flashness and speed and Richard's virtuosity comes in the form of his own brilliant consistency and creativity, managing to mould the endless textures, nuances and sounds to perfectly fit any situation he finds himself in, whilst never compromising the integrity of these sacred instruments.

Since Richard first began public performances on Taonga Pūoro, he has developed an amazing international profile, both with the diversity of his recorded work, along with performing with a wide variety of people in many differing settings and circumstances. Traditional music performances include the World Expo' in Brisbane, and the pre-Olympic Festival of the Dreaming in Sydney, and representing New Zealand at the Polynesian Music Festival in Rarotonga in 1996. Richard was also invited to perform at three WOMADS in Adelaide and Auckland in 1997 and 1999. In 1998, he co-led the musicians at the opening of Te Papa dawn ceremony with Nga Taonga Pūoro.

In addition, Richard is increasingly working across a wide range of musical genres. He has toured with Māori Artists (Moana Maniapoto, Deborah Wai Kapohe) free jazz improvisors (Evan Parker, Geoff Henderson) pianists (Judy Bailey, Marilyn Crispell, Paul Grabowsky, Mike Nock) flutists (Alexa Still and Bridget Douglas) and has had a number of performances of contemporary classical works, written specifically for him, including with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the New Zealand String Quartet.

In all his live performances and recordings Richard has transformed oral information into a written and musical form.

With Hirini Melbourne, Richard has produced two CD's, Te Ku Te Whe and te hekenga-ā-rangi, as well as publishing a book and tape Toiapiapi. Theirs was a unique collaboration on Te Ara Pūoro (The sounds of the Maori) until Hirini's untimely death last year.

Richard continues to present wānanga (workshops) on the instruments - their sounds , history and stories - to groups ranging from universities, conferences to small māori hui (gatherings).

Since 2001, Richard has held the position of Research Associate at the University of Waikato.

Richard has also been awarded an honorary life member of the New Zealand Flute Association, and in 2001 was honoured by the Composers Association of New Zealand with a Citation for Services to New Zealand Music.

Richard has just returned from a tour of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea and China undertaken with Amorangi, Kingi Taurua.

Email: c/- [email protected]