Richard Nunns - documentary to be produced — 21.05.13

Dr Richard Nunns Laureate and expert in ngā taonga puoro (Māori traditional musical instruments) is the subject of a new documentary feature film.

Nga Reo O Te Whenua - Voices of the Land' - a documentary on Richard Nunns is to be produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker and Victoria University academic Dr Paul Wolffram.

Dr Nunns has been researching and performing with  ngā taonga puoro (Māori traditional musical instruments) for more than 40 years.

"Richard's journey with these instruments and his reflections on what he has learnt is being filmed as he travels through some of Aotearoa's most resonant landscapes," says Dr Wolffram.

"Richard has been widely recognised as a ‘living treasure'. His careful and sensitive research continues to be an important contribution to the revival and preservation of these instruments and traditions, unique to this country."

The film also documents Dr Nunns' on-going struggle with Parkinson's disease, which threatens his ability to continue performing and presenting these instruments to international audiences.

"Richard is remarkable for his energy and tenacious determination to continue to perform," says Dr Wolffram.

"When he lifts an instrument, his concentration, ability and musicality continue to astound audiences. Despite his challenges, Richard is in good health and remains passionate about sharing his knowledge and insights into the deep relationship between taonga puoro and the landscapes of Aotearoa."

Filming on ‘Nga Reo O Te Whenua - Voices of the Land' continues into September this year, supported by funding from Victoria University. Dr Nunns was awarded an honorary doctorate of music from Victoria in 2008.

A trailer to the film can be viewed here

During New Zealand Music Month a concert is being organised at Te Papa Tongarewa in honour of Richard's contribution to music in Aotearoa.

In 2012 Dr Wolffram received the Jean Rouch prize from the Society for Visual Anthropology in San Francisco for Stori Tumbuna: Ancestors' Tales, his feature-length documentary about the Lak people of Papua New Guinea.

Image by Gareth Watkins, courtesy the artist