Te Hau-a-Kaiaua

by Anthony Ritchie, for orchestra, Opus 37

A short tone poem, describing a Maori myth in music. It is colourful in its orchestration, and contains elements of Maori music mixed with minimalist elements.

The score for this work can be purchased from Wai-te-ata Music Press

Programme Note

Translation of title: 'The winds of Kaiaua'

In Maori mythology, Kaiaua was a child of Tahwiri, the great god of the wind. The winds of Kaiaua are the nor'-westers that frequently sweep across the Canterbury plains. This piece describes an old Maori legend about a chief who disliked the hot nor'-westers so much that he instructed a tohunga (or priest) to perform a chant, making the mountains bigger and stopping the winds coming. However, this caused the plains to become too damp and miserable for the people to live there. The chief prayed for the return of the winds, and eventually they do indeed return, forcing their way over the Southern Alps.

The music for this one-movement piece is directly programmatic, owing something to the composer's experience as Composer-in-schools (1987), where childrens' imagination very readily turns sounds into images. Consequently, a theme from Ritchie's own youth (from age 13) is used in the piece, to depict the march of the wind at the end.