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Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Renowned taonga pūoro musician Richard Nunns dies

Taonga pūoro master player and historian Richard Nunns has been described as one of New Zealand’s most remarkable instrumentalists, has died. He was 76.

Nunns, Māori musician Hirini Melbourne and artist Brian Flintoff were renowned for reviving interest in traditional Māori instruments or taonga pūoro.

Together they researched and recorded instruments held in museum collections, many of which had not been played for over a century, rediscovering their unique sounds and techniques to play them.

Groove listeners will know Nunns through his recordings with Rattle Records and collaborations with local jazz artists such as the Chris Mason-Battley Group.
He has also performed with musicians as diverse as classical orchestras and drum and bass. He's composed and toured with Whiramako Black and Gareth Farr. He contributed to sound tracks for 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Whale Rider'. 

As a long term practitioner Nunns was pivotal to the restoration and education of taonga pūoro.

After Nunns was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2005, he rarely appeared in public but used music as a healing therapy.

He collected numerous awards for his work. He was an arts laureate and honorary life member of the New Zealand Flute Association; received an honorary doctorate of music from Victoria University and a Queens Service Medal for services to taonga pūoro.

A lifetime contribution to Māori music prize was awarded to Nunns at the Waiata Maori  Music Awards in 2012.

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