Tahaa

Ta Moko studio and Maori Arts Gallery

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Koauau

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Koauau are the most common of all the traditional flutes. Hine Raukatauri (the case moth) is the atua (goddess) / kaitiaki (gaurdian) of the koauau. Koauau are usually made from wood, bone or stone and vary in length but an average one is about 150mm long.

Koauau Rakau/Matai

Koauau are the most common of all the traditional flutes.

Hine Raukatauri (the case moth) is the atua (goddess) / kaitiaki (gaurdian) of the koauau.

Koauau wheua hipi

Koauau has many uses.

  • They are known to attract native birds who interact and sing along with the beautiful sounds of the Koauau.
  • Koauau were used to welcome people into life and to help assist the spirit as it leaves life.
  • Koauau were used to help heal broken bones.
  • Koauau were used to help memorise knowledge.
  • In the famous Te Arawa love story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai, it is said that Tutanekai played a koauau, whose song enchanted Hinemoa and led her to him.

Koauau are made from a variety of materials:- albatross wing bone, moa bone, human bone, Daisy the cow, mutton bone as well as a variety of woods and stone.


Most koauau have three finger holes (wenewene).

Ororuarangi Toroa
According to some of the legends, the Patupaiarehe (fairies) were the experts at playing koauau. 

Nga Wenewene
Mauimua                    Mauiroto                     Mauitaha
Te mea whakangawari          Te mea whakakaha            Te mea whakatika
Putanga                                    Mangai

The koauau - and the longest Maori placename:
Tetaumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu

It is the name given by the local Maori people, Ngati Kere to a prominent hill to celebrate the achievements of Maori ancestor, Tamatea Pokai Whenua. Tamatea was a famous chief and warrior of his time. His son Kahungunu was the founder of the Ngati Kahungunu tribe, which extends from Gisborne to Cape Palliser.

Tamatea was so grieved over the loss of his brother in the Matanui battle, he would sit on the hill and play his lament on what is called the koauau or Maori flute.

The name means 'The hilltop where Tamatea, with big knees, conqueror of mountains, eater of land, traveller over land and sea, played his Koauau (flute) to his beloved'.
Koauau toroa / Albatross

 

 

This is also available as part of Collection Case along with a number of other Taonga Puoro.