Richard Nunns is a renowned expert in taonga pūoro — traditional Māori instruments like wood and bone flutes. This 2007 episode of the Māori Television arts show sits down with him as he narrates his collaboration with Brian Flintoff and the late Hirini Melbourne — “a magic coalition of separate skills” — and the journey they’ve undertaken to resurrect lost sounds. Inspired by museum objects, literature and song, the trio led the revival of the form in contemporary Aotearoa. Nunns says the pūoro would’ve functioned as “a cellphone to the divine” for tohunga (experts).
The first thing that people say is where do these sounds come from, where would they think of these sounds? Well of course the teacher [says], it's 'te reo o te whenua', it's the voice of the land. We've always said that it's the voice of Tangaroa, it's the voice of Tāne, it's the voice of Hine-nui-te-pō. It's a multitude of voices that are there. They're the carriers of those voices. The manu, the insects ... Tāne and so on. Your ears are attuned ... they replicate those sounds.– Richard Nunns