Mrs Wineera, the Kōauau Player

What is a Kōauau? ...cross-blown flute - smaller than a pūtōrino, this instrument was traditionally made of wood, bone or a species of kelp. Most have three finger holes (wenewene), but some have none and others five or six. This flute is not the easy to play as you  have to use slight movements of your lips and tongue. It is used for entertaining but also for grieving and easing pain. The music of the Kōauau always has words and if you are an accomplished player you can hear the words through the playing of the flute.

Mrs Paeroa Wineera was one of those accomplished players. At the age of 12 she was taught by her Uncle to play the Kōauau. In the 1960's she was recorded singing and playing. The recordings on the 'Traditional Music Of The Māori: An Historical Collection' are beautiful and Mrs Wineera can be heard explaining about the meaning of the songs. One of my favourites to listen to is a song that was sung by the old people. About a man, 'Haere Pikare' being on his own, he relished being independent, walking his own road, a 'lone star'. The women wanted to follow him and be with him, but he wanted to stand on his own. So they made up a love song about him. Paeroa Wineera sings and plays it on the kōauau.


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