Confidence from ancestors’ stories
Learning a traditional instrument is as much about the future as it is about the past, Jerome Kavanagh says.
The Bali-based Kiwi runs workshops and online courses teaching people to play taonga puoro [traditional Ma¯ ori musical instruments].
The instruments include spinning discs, percussion instruments and flutes carved from totara wood, whale tooth, albatross bones, shells, and greenstone.
The musical instrument recreate sounds from the natural environment, such as the howling of the wind, Kavanagh said.
‘‘Taonga puoro hold the vibration of the natural world,’’ he said.
Kavanagh recently held a workshop at REAP Central Plateau.
His main business is delivering online courses for customers and schools in Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand.
‘‘I realised a lot of schools don’t have the human resources available to teach the taonga puoro themselves, so I focused on creating online video tutorials,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s about empowering our people – especially our teachers – so they can share that with their kids,’’ he said.
Remembering past traditions and looking into ancestors’ stories could encourage selfbelief in the present, Kavanagh said.
‘‘It’s a Ma¯ ori approach and tool that can empower everybody.’’
Kavanagh’s mother is of Ma¯ ori descent and his father is of Irish descent.
‘‘Our great great great grandfather came to Taranaki on the Ladybird. They were on their way to America but they stopped here and never got back onto the boat,’’ he said.
Back in the 1800s, his ancestors wouldn’t have had modern conveniences, such as supermarkets they could visit in the evening or freezers to keep meat frozen, but they made do, he said.
‘‘You draw inspiration from your ancestors’ stories,’’ he said.
‘‘My whole family and my wife are really staunch on being independent, and that’s how we look at the stories of our ancestors.
‘‘They practiced their sovereignty through the practice of their business and their life.’’
* Visit jeromekav. wixsite.com/jerome-
Jerome Kavanagh plays a Taonga Puoro at a recent workshop at REAP Central Plateau.