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rob thorne
ngāti tumutumu

taonga pūoro







New Zealand Māori composer, performer, improvisor, collaborator, anthropologist and specialist Rob Thorne M.A. (Ngāti Tumutumu) is a diverse and original explorer in the evolving journey of Taonga Puoro (traditional Māori instruments), fusing these ancient voices with modern sounds and technology. His debut solo album Whaia te Maramatanga (Rattle Records) is a deeply felt and highly concentrated conversation between the past and the present - a musical passage of identity and connection. 

Using modern looping technology and traditional Māori flutes and horns made from stone, bone, shell and wood, Rob creates a transcendent aural experience that touches the soul with timeless beauty. Every performance of "Whāia te Māramatanga" is a stunning and very personal exploration of the spiritual and healing qualities of an ancient practise. 

Rob’s combined musical and academic experience and skills are multitudinal. A musician with over 25 years performance experience in bands and solo, predominantly within alternative rock, free noise, experimental, and improvisational sound art, his work since 2001 with traditional Māori musical instruments (taonga puoro) has seen him complete an MA in Social Anthropology, and since 2008, incorporate this diverse experience to create long, beautifully transcendent, ambient compositions using loops, intelligently blending the modern with the ancient: a format that is now being picked up and utilised by many taonga puoro players.

His journey of identity has seen him travel the country to research museum collections, teach and lecture, present as keynote, demonstrate, collaborate and perform, working academically and musically with both traditional and sonic masters including Richard Nunns and Phil Dadson. His Post Graduate Diploma research became a museum exhibition "Kōauau: The Music Within", which successfully toured New Zealand regionally for 5 years and awoke many to the natural ease with which the instruments can be made and played.


Rob playing pūtātara.  Image by Emma Allen del Castillo

Rob playing tumutumu rākau.  Image by Jo Loughrey-Berry

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