Richard Nunns playing his unique whale rib pūtōrino on Te Papa’s marae.
Richard Nunns, expert in ngā taonga pūoro (Māori musical instruments), has a very unusual pūtōrino, or flute, made from the rib of a right whale.
With its long, curving shape and carved references to the tail flukes and blow hole of a whale, it is unlike any other pūtōrino.
The whale rib pūtōrino was made specially by Brian Flintoff, for Richard to play as part of Gillian Whitehead‘s work Puhake ki te Rangi. He performed this work on Te Papa’s marae in January 2008 with the New Zealand String Quartet, and demonstrated a number of whale-related taonga pūoro.
Here you can see two more traditional wooden pūtōrino in Te Papa’s collection.
Pūtōrino are one of the most unusual Māori musical instruments, as they have several voices. The kōkiri is the trumpet-like male voice, played by blowing down into the instrument. The softer waiata wahine, or female voice, is played by blowing crossways across the end.
Listen to Richard Nunns play this whale rib pūtōrino. First he plays the kōkiri, and then the female voice.