Paul Wolffram’s fascinating and eloquent doco about Māori instrumental traditions accompanies Richard Nunns and Horomona Horo as they perform in a series of remarkable South Island wilderness settings.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
Richard Nunns has been a primary figure in retrieving taonga pūoro, the traditional instruments of the Māori, from the silence of the museum. Archivist, researcher, composer and performer, he has worked – first with the late Hirini Melbourne, and here with Horomona Horo – to reinstate lost performance traditions. For Nunns, the sounds of the instruments ‘sit somewhere between the sounds of the natural world and the human voice’: the performer enters and joins the soundscape of nature. As the two men engage in musical conversation with a number of remarkable South Island locations, director Paul Wolffram and editor Annie Collins orchestrate the artistry of cinematographer Alun Bollinger and sound designer Tim Prebble to render the experience sublimely cinematic. We also meet master carver Brian Flintoff who works on intricate new flutes. Performances are interwoven with tributes – many of them musical – to the value of Nunns’ discoveries and dedication. As Nunns contemplates his own failing body, the film’s attunement to natural forces – ebbing away and then resurgent – summons the spirits that have found renewal through him.