(Re)constructing the kōauau : traditional and modern methods in the making of kōauau rākau : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Social Anthropology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Massey University
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Until recently written work on the koauau has remained hidden within ethnographic accounts and anthropological analyses of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Descriptions regarding the traditional construction methods of the wooden koauau, a traditional, short, open-­-ended, tube flute played using the oblique embouchure, are often brief and second-­-hand, usually describing the object as it is physically rather than the process by which it was made. As yet, very little has been done academically on the process of construction: the making of koauau. Interest in taonga puoro (traditional Maori musical instruments) within academic discussion has been increasing alongside the pragmatic revival of a musical practice motivated by a small group of high-­-profile, respected exponents. By collecting oral tradition and combining ethnographic evidence with structural knowledge from existing museum artefacts for purposes of reconstruction and re-­-enactment, these people have been revitalising and reviving the traditional practice of taonga puoro. Situated within an ethnomusicological framework of fieldwork-­-based research this thesis incorporates interviews, practical reconstruction, the study of museum artefacts, and a thorough survey of ethnography in a comparative analysis that considers the possibility, validity and probability of different techniques. Focussed specifically on traditional methods, one technique in particular, that of using a hot coal to burn the central bore that runs through the length of the shaft of the flute was central to the research. In total eighteen instruments are presented that were created during the research by methods that included cord drill, gouging of pith woods, ‘found sound’, tunnels made by moth grubs, and fire.
Kōauau, Māori, Music, Musical instruments, Design and construction, New Zealand