01-otairongo-artspace-website-poster-1000x1414-q90Auckland Arts Festival 2020
The Sound of Portraiture – The sound of portraiture:The expression of the identity of wāhine Māori.

Image Tyrone Ohia


Imagine for a moment, the idea of portraiture, what does this mean? Normally a representation of a person and most people think in terms of visual. Now take away all visuals and imagine how might a person and in this case a Māori woman might be captured sonically represented through sound only, what would this sound like? It is not an interview, it is not a podcast, it is not a linear narrative. Rather this is an artist painting a portraiture through layers of sounds. These sounds are the palette and the sound design becomes the canvas. A canvas that is not two dimensional, but a 360 immersive sound canvas, whereby the listener is transported binaurally with headphones into an immersed environment with this wāhine in a very intimate approach.

The focus of this project is the honouring and affirmation of wāhine voices and stories as explored through sonic portraiture. It explores how sonic-portraiture might provide a way of conceptualising a representation of wāhine Māori through sound so they integrate both the physically accountable (music, history, opinion, dialogue, knowledge, identity) and the metaphysical (wairua, mauri). The significance of this artistic project  is that it creatively expands the concept of portraiture of Māori women into the aural realm and through this, develops a method of depiction that expresses a deep, multi-faceted dimensionality of their identity.

It is a contribution to new knowledge and a high quality of art, this particular project is ground breaking having never been done before in the world through the  utilisation of immersive and binaural sound technologies to create these sonic audio portraits.

This project explores specifically how sonic portraiture might capture and embody the ‘essence’ of wāhine through sound, by responding to cultural, spiritual, social, political and artistic dimensions of their identity. As such, the enquiry responds to the mauri (life force) and wairua (spirit, spirituality) of wāhine. These sonic portraiture are an exploration and creative expression that provides insight into a person. The sonic portrait participants are Moana Maniapoto, Te Rita Papesch and Ramon Te Wake.

The Auckland Arts festival 2020 has offered a show/exhibition in its programme for this project. Special thanks to Artspace Aotearoa, Creative New Zealand, Auckland Regional Council, Auckland University of Technology and Sennheiser.


Hokio wohali

New Zealand International Arts Festival 2020
Ōkareka Dance Company (Aotearoa) and Exhale Dance Tribe (United States of America) – Hōkioi vWōhali (Tupuna Eagles) Project.

“A rich fusion of choreography, music, tikanga Maori and performance practices, AV, lighting and performance design”


Enter a world of sacred eagles that blends the ancient with the modern. From spirit eagles land explores parallels between the Hōkioi (Haast) Eagle and the Vwōhali (American Golden) Eagle, embodying the majesty and mana of those two sacred birds and their shared whakapapa. Swooping and soaring, the dancers’ movement is enhanced by a cinematic surround-sound experience that cleverly transports you between Aotearoa, Duyuktv (Cherokee) land and the spiritual realm.


It is an honour to be invited to compose, arrange and produce the sound design for Ōkareka Dance company and Exhale Dance Tribe in a collaboration between the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa and the Anikituwah, Duyutv, Iroquois and Haudenosaunee peoples of the United States of America. This will be bringing together the spiritual sacred sounds of these people and their stories of the great tupuna manu of the Hōkioi and vWāholi but also mixing and composing in contemporary musical settings. I am fortunate to work with Taiaroa Royal, Tūī Matiri Ranapiri-Ransfield, Missy and Andrew Hubbard on this project. An extraordinary part of the sound design for this project will be the inclusion of 3D immersive sound capture and mixing for binaural listening over headphones in a theatre experience, which has never been done before in the world.

Hokioi me wohali