Taonga Puoro

Kawa Whakaruruhau

Cultural Safety Statement


The revival of taonga pūoro, the traditional musical instruments of Māori, began around 1984 at a hui held at Te Araroa. It was there that Hirini Melbourne, Richard Nunns and Brian Flintoff first met and went on to form the rōpū Haumanu.

Haumanu travelled around marae in the 1980s and 1990s and the mātauranga given to them is published in the book ‘Taonga Pūoro - Singing Treasures’, written by Brian Flintoff with guidance from Hirini. Additionally, Richard made detailed notes of the knowledge collected on marae.

This mātauranga and guidance from Hirini informs the practices I apply when working with taonga pūoro.


The practices I apply when working in te ao o taonga pūoro space are:

  • That tikanga applicable to taonga pūoro is followed at all times.
  • I will only pass on mātauranga as referenced above so as to preserve what was given to Haumanu in the early days of the revival.
  • I share the mātauranga in the education sector as a direct result of Hirini asking me to do so.
  • I will only be involved in projects or performances using taonga pūoro if invited by, or in association with, tāngata whenua.
  • I will ensure that when performing or recording the taonga with non-Māori instruments or in alternative genres that their voices and whakapapa are prioritised and respected.
  • The instruments I make may include basic carving using traditional motifs to appropriately reflect their whakapapa and associated pūrākau.
  • Mahi requested by Te Tau Ihu Mana Whenua will generally be done on a koha basis, however, projects which are funded will be negotiated at either standard commercial or community rates dependent on the source of funding and nature of the kaupapa.
  • I do not enter the rongoā/health space with the taonga pūoro.

My underlying philosophy is to ask “What would Hirini say?”

Whilst the natural home of taonga pūoro is on the marae, it is clear that Hirini wanted the instruments to go further afield. Hirini said that the knowledge should first be for Tūhoe, then Māori, and then the world. He challenged me to do what I could to promote knowledge around the taonga.

Bob Bickerton
14th March 2024