New Zealand Music Hall of Fame 2009 - Announcing new inductees: Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns

Monday 14 September 2009, 1:55PM

The New Zealand Music Hall of Fame honours and celebrates those who have made a significant contribution to New Zealand through music.

Their individual journeys are a direct reflection of the changing face of our culture; who we were, who we are, and what we might become. Their connection is their rich and varied legacy. The Hall of Fame inductees have been the originators, the groundbreakers and those whose music is loved and adored and has made a difference. This year’s inductees continue that proud tradition.

APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association), in association with the Recording Association of NZ (RIANZ), are pleased to announce the 2009 inductees to the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame:

Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns.

Maori composer, music educator and author the late Hirini Melbourne (Tuhoe and Ngati Kahungunu) began his teaching career as a primary school teacher, writing songs for children and became renowned for his work in Maori language as well as music. Today, students in most classrooms in Aotearoa have been exposed to Hirini’s songs, creating a long lasting connection between his music, Maori language and many thousands of young people.

Richard Nunns is one of New Zealand’s most remarkable musicians. From the extremes of avant-guard jazz this red-haired Pakeha has become a living authority on Taonga Puoro (Maori traditional instruments) a journey that required a great deal of “respect, perseverance and sensitivity” – all of which is illustrated in his music.

It was together however through a collaboration lasting over 20 years that these two great friends (together with master carver Brian Flintoff) went about the gentle re-awakening of the traditional Maori instruments that had been lying silent in museums for generations. Today, we have grown accustomed to hearing the voices of these instruments in our music, in kapa haka, in the background of radio or television programmes, in contemporary music (via the likes of Tiki Taane) or the sound for instance of the purerehua (the bull-roarer) at All Black games. Without thinking too much about it we simply assume that the music has always been there. This is far from the case. Without the commitment, patience and hard work of these two, who combined artistic ability and dedicated research, the ancestral voices would still be silent.

“This is one of the most significant stories in New Zealand music – an instrumental tradition lost for more than a century but, against all odds, bought back to life. It’s an extraordinary story of extraordinary people” says APRA’s Director of NZ Operations, Anthony Healey

“These two and their achievements sit right alongside the icons of NZ music. Like Ray Columbus and the Invaders, Jordan Luck, the Topp Twins or Straitjacket Fits, Hirini and Richard’s achievements are long-lasting and hugely significant” he says.

Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns.

Great New Zealanders; distinguished scholars and artists; two of the most important musicians in a generation.

To be honoured at the 2009 APRA Silver Scroll Awards - Christchurch Town Hall - Thursday 17 September


ENDS - The Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) collects and distributes licence fees for the public performance and communication (including broadcast) of its members’ musical works. Public performances of music include music used in pubs, clubs, fitness centres, shops, cinemas, festivals, whether performed live, on CDs or played on the radio or television. Communication of music covers music used for music on hold, music accessed over the internet or used by television or radio broadcasters.

Further information:

Hirini Melbourne

Hirini Melbourne (1949-2003) was a Maori composer, singer, University lecturer, poet and author. He was from Ngai Tuhoe and Ngati Kahungunu. A significant figure in the revival Maori culture and language we wrote dozens of now classic songs sung in classrooms throughout New Zealand. In the last two decades of his life Hirini’s musical interests extended to a fascination with traditional Maori instruments. Initially intrigued by instruments found only in museum glass cases, he subsequently met ethnomusicologist and performer Richard Nunns and from 1989 onwards the two regularly performed together on marae, and in schools, galleries and concerts. This partnership lead to the release of the seminal recording ‘Te Ku Te Whe’, a CD of original and traditional compositions for a variety of Maori instruments followed by Te Hekenga-a-rangi’ in 2003.

Richard Nunns

Richard Nunns who, as a young boy, felt really at the centre of things as he sat in his dressing-gown listening to the rinky-tink music of his father’s country dance band is now a cosmopolitan virtuoso, performing with national and international celebrities in genres ranging from hip-hop to avant-garde

jazz. He is also a pre-eminent musical researcher and scholar, who has not only uncovered and documented scores of traditional Maori instruments, but has also coaxed them back to life, restored their voices to the Maori communities to which they once belonged, injected them into the national soundscape and introduced them to an international audience. (Courtesy of Richard Nunns: The Renaissance of Traditional Maori Music by Peter Beatson)
Other references:

APRA writer director Arthur Baysting says “Hirini made a huge contribution to New Zealand on several fronts. His repertoire of children’s waiata has entered the national treasury of culture through being sung by hundreds of thousands of children in kohanga reo and primary schools. His work with Richard Nunns rediscovering Taonga Puoro and his academic career have been critical achievements in NZ music, inspiring any number of contemporary musicians today from Pitch Black to the Little Bushmen …”

Acclaimed composer and APRA writer member Gillian Whitehead continues; “Without the combined talents of Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns working together over several decades, patiently piecing together the fragments of knowledge and skill still held by kuia and koroua, the richness and variety of the sounds of taonga puoro, and the infinite potential of the recovered voices of our past, would not now be sounding around the world”
Te Ahukaramu Charles Royal - B.Mus(Hons), MPhil, PhD, Composer, musician and researcher says;

“Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns are regarded as the ‘fathers’ of the renaissance of taonga puoro making and performing … It is amazing to see how widespread their use now is. Taonga puoro appear almost everywhere - in film soundtracks and television advertisements, in compositions by composers such as Gillian Whitehead and in the music of diverse music making groups such as the Woolshed Sessions, Tiki Tane, Moana and the Tribe, Rhian Sheehan and many more. New Zealand music and music making would be that much poorer but for the efforts of Richard Nunns and Hirini Melbourne.