Richard Nunns Profile

Kirsten Johnstone
15 Sep 2020

Richard Nunns is the world’s foremost expert on the musical instruments of Te Ao Māori, taonga puoro. Alongside musician Hirini Melbourne and carver Brian Flintoff he literally breathed instruments made from wood, bones, stones, leaves, gourds, and shells back to life.

It is an exploration that spanned 40 years, and took him to marae all around te mōtu, to musical collaborations around the world, and into genres from avant-garde jazz to electronic pop.

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Richard Nunns
Photo credit: Rattle collection
Hirini Melbourne (left, playing a pūtōrino) and Richard Nunns (ororuarangi). 
Photo credit: Rattle collection
Richard Nunns, Glenn Colquhoun, and Bob Bickerton.
Photo credit: Bob Bickerton collection
Richard Nunns (left, pounamu) with Hirini Melbourne (kōauau), at the sessions for Te Hekenga-a-rangi (Rattle, 2003).
Photo credit: Rattle collection
Richard Nunns with Kathleen Gallagher.
Photo credit: Bob Bickerton
Richard Nunns with Paddy Free at left; the recording engineer, centre, is Darryl Stack from RNZ. 
Photo credit: Kirsten Johnstone
Liner notes for the Rangirua album by Richard Nunns and Evan Parker (Leo Records, 2001)
Richard Nunns and Evan Parker - Rangirua (Leo Records, 2001)
Richard Nunns
Photo credit: Rattle collection
Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns - Chants Et Musiques Maoris (2004)
Voices of the Land: Ngā Reo o te Whenua (2014)
From left: Taihuka Smith, Aroha Yates Smith, Richard Nunns, and Bob Bickerton.
Photo credit: Bob-Bickerton collection
Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns - Te ku Te Whe Remixed (2006)
Richard Nunns, Glenn Colquhoun, and Bob Bickerton.
Photo credit: Bob Bickerton
Richard Nunns on pūtōrino, in the studio recording Two Tides, a 2006 project with the Chris Mason-Battley Group.
Photo credit: Rattle collection
Mike Cooper, Richard Nunns, Elio Martusciello - Live @ Cineclub Detour (2001)
Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns - Te kū Te Whē (Rattle, 1994)
Richard Nunns recording a pūtōrino. 
Photo credit: Rattle collection
Whirimako Black with Richard Nunns.
Photo credit: Whirimako Black collection
Richard Nunns, a portrait by Gareth Watkins.
Photo credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington; PADL-000550 9229
David Long, Natalia Mann, and Richard Nunns, who worked together on a CD, Utterance (Rattle, 2017). 
Richard Nunns performs on a pūmotomoto, a long flute, with Judy Bailey at the piano. Their Tuhonohono projected wove together the musical traditions of classical, world, and jazz.
Photo credit: Rattle collection
Richard Nunns plays the pūtōrino
Richard Nunns playing a pūkāea while recording This Appearing World (Rattle, 2011), a project with US jazz pianist Marilyn Crispell and saxophonist Jeff Henderson.
Photo credit: Tim Gummer
Richard Nunns with carver Brian Flintoff receiving their Queen's Service Medals for services to taonga puoro, 1 September 2009
Richard Nunns
Photo credit: Rattle collection
Richard Nunns
Photo credit: Rattle collection
Richard Nunns on pūtātara. 
Richard Nunns, a portrait taken by Gareth Watkins.
Photo credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington; PADL-000550 9240
Richard Nunns, a portrait by Gareth Watkins.
Photo credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington; PADL-000550 9170
Richard Nunns
Photo credit: Rattle collection
Whirimako Black and Richard Nunns.
Photo credit: Kirsten Johnstone
Hirini Melbourne & Richard Nunns with Aroha Yates-Smith ‎– Te Hekenga-ā-rangi (Rattle, 2003).
Kete Aronui - Richard Nunns (2007)
Richard Nunns, right, holding a pūtōrino while recording This Appearing World (Rattle, 2011). With him are saxophonist Jeff Henderson and US jazz pianist Marilyn Crispell.  
Photo credit: Tim Gummer
Richard Nunns playing a pōrutu. 
Richard Nunns demonstrates a nguru (a small mouth flute).
Richard Nunns, a portrait by Gareth Watkins.
Photo credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington; PADL-000550 9085
Whirimako Black with Richard Nunns, scholar of traditional Māori instruments.
Photo credit: Whirimako Black collection
Richard Nunns playing a pūkāea while recording This Appearing World (Rattle, 2011); at left is saxophonist Jeff Henderson.
Photo credit: Tim Gummer
Richard Nunns with a tumutumu pākohe, a found instrument made of stone. 
Photo credit: Rattle collection
Richard Nunns was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame, with Hirini Melbourne, in 2009. The Hall of Fame is an initiative of Recorded Music NZ and the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), whose support of AudioCulture enables the site to stream music content.
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Rattle Records