The Northland Age
Tuwhare poems inspire tribute concert
The works of Northland-born poet Hone Tuwhare have inspired a North Island music tour by one of the country’s most renowned big band collaborators.
Rodger Fox Big Band is paying tribute to “the people’s poet” through musical compositions at various centres including in Northland next month.
The Rodger Fox Big Band Plays Hone Tuwhare tour launched at a gala event at Wellington’s Opera House on October 22, and was followed by a headline performance at the Wellington Jazz Festival.
Concerts will also be held in Hamilton on November 11, at the Turner Centre in Kerikeri on November 12, and in Auckland on November 13.
Fox invited a team of renowned music collaborators to work on transforming the late Tuwhare’s poems into music, including Liam Ryan from the Narcs and musicians within the 18-piece band.
They composed and arranged 10 original works on the recording, he said.
“I had a short list of poems, then I invited 10 composers from all around New Zealand.
“They took the poem and read it and wrote a musical landscape vision of what they took from reading the poem.
“He [Tuwhare] was a very big jazz fan and big band fan.
“So there are several poems named after famous jazz musicians, like Miles Davis.”
Tuwhare was born in 1922
in rural Kaikohe, into the Ngāpuhi tribe [hapū Ngati Korokoro, Ngati Tautahi, Te Popoto and Te Uri-O-Hau].
One of New Zealand’s bestknown Mā ori poets, his works often addressed Māori issues,
with subjects ranging from landscape and the sea to love, protest and dispossession.
His first poetry collection, No Ordinary Sun , a cry of outrage at the way the world is heading for nuclear disaster,
was published in 1964 and brought him immediate recognition.
He went on to write another 12 volumes of poetry and a number of short stories and plays.
This year marks 100 years since the birth of Tuwhare, who lived much of his later life in a seaside cottage at Kaka Point south of Dunedin.
He died in 2008 aged 85 and was buried on a hillside in his family’s urupā near Kaikohe.
Fox obtained the blessing of Tuwhare’s son Rob Tuwhare and the Hone Tuwhare Charitable Trust to go ahead with the project.
Fox said he chose Tuwhare’s poems after researching his life and discovering a number of connections.
“He’s an iconic New Zealand artist, he’s a big jazz fan, and thirdly the final part of his life he lived in Kaka Point.
“When I lived in Gore as a young person, my father was the head of Gore High and we went there [Kaka Point] for school holidays.
“There were many things linked together. I thought this is too good.”
Fox said Tuwhare was “loved and cherished by New Zealanders from all walks of life”.
“Touring tirelessly, Hone shared his talent and inspired audiences in every corner of the country, from primary and secondary schools to universities, factories to art galleries and prisons.
“As he travelled, Hone encouraged others to write, express themselves, create and celebrate life.
“He was a pretty earthy type of person. He had many lives within his lives.”
Rob Tuwhare said his dad would be thrilled with the tribute concert.
“We are honoured to have you produce this recording inspired by Dad’s poems.”