A little while ago I came across an amazing piece of music
by the celebrated New Zealand artist Tiki Taane. It's called "Tangaroa - God of the Sea" and voices his anger at the continuing rape of the world's oceans. In his own words: After the 2004 Tsunami I started asking a lot of questions about the world, our environment and about myself. I really felt the anger and rage Tangaroa had towards mankind as we have shown no respect for the ocean and its inhabitants, and for this I feel sad and ashamed. I wanted to write a piece of music that embodied that aggression and power, something that could be felt on many levels. Tangaroa was born.
The navigator cultures of the Pacific Ocean have/had an incredible understanding of their world and could navigate thousands of miles between tiny islands without any modern instrumentation. In fact, they were doing this long before Europeans dared go out of sight of land but this knowledge has almost been lost in recent times. Thankfully organisations like the Polynesian Voyaging Society
are now actively working to keep these skills alive, and to promote understanding and respect for the ocean.
I share Tiki's feeling, but looking at his website
also gave me another gift which is the one I would like to share here.
"Tangaroa" was produced as a collaboration between Tiki and his father, Uekaha, their first. Reading Uekaha's commentary on the creative process, I can't help but be deeply moved by ... something, but I'm not sure what. There is a wisdom here that I don't understand yet, and this mystery is a powerful reminder that cultures other than my own have a lot to teach 'us'. Here, copied from Tikidub.com, are his words:
The words came to be, as often the best things do, from a spark of inspiration at an unrelated event.A few years back, I was attending a 3-day seminar about “wairua” with my partner Simone, and we were busy creating a waiata that we could perform together as part of a production at the very end. Simone came up with some beautiful kupu about Taane Mahuta, Tangaroa, Tawhirimatea, and Rongomatane and I put a waiata together inspired by her whakaaro about these concepts. This is a way that we often work together; we co-create, build, and layer concepts and sounds.So when Tiki came to me with some beats and asked me to put something together I adopted the same process…although at first I wasn’t sure if I liked what he had given me to work with! It was so different to anything I had heard before…my first thoughts were – freaky! It sounds like some techno seagulls! How can I put some wairua into these sounds which were so foreign to me? I was afraid to get out of the box I had put myself in and create something so different to anything I had done before.As Tiki and I talked things started to reveal themselves to me – Tiki talked at length about the profound experience he had when he went to Rarotonga, the launch place of the great Tainui waka, and his journey tracing its path to Kawhia, which coincided with the tragedy of the Indonesian tsunami. He talked of the extremes of emotion he felt during the trip, of moodiness, anger, and a rawness to his soul that previously he had worked hard to ignore.The proposed collaboration between us could not have taken place without both of us being prepared to lay something bare.When I listened again to the beats I put aside my inhibitions – and I heard the haka beat properly – the 1-2-3 1-2-3 of the waltz and the haka, the heartbeat of human consciousness, the primeval sounds of the cosmos and of nature….and I found wairua. I turned the words of our waiata into a mantra – tu mai te ihi, tu mai te wehi, tu mai te wanawana…together with this I put our shared concerns for the environment, for the forces of nature, and our coexistence with the demigods and kaitiaki we share Te Ao Marama with.Originally I had thought that my whakaaro and the music were diametrically opposed…but through the process discovered the link was my son and his journey, and my aroha for him. He gave me the way in.With a haka the beat must be right, it’s all about the timing, the flow and weave of words and sounds…and so I acknowledge the beautiful kupu that Simone has given me, and the korero of Tikis journey and the beats he had created, and everything I bring with my own stories, and here we are now. Tangaroa.-Uekaha Taane Tinorau
EDIT: I wrote to Tiki Taane letting him know about this post and received a very enthusiastic thank you note this morning. I love this job!