Richard Nunns in 2011
|Associated acts||Hirini Melbourne|
Richard Nunns QSM (born 1945) is a Māori traditional instrumentalist of Pākehā heritage. He is particularly known for playing the Taonga pūoro and his collaboration with fellow Māori instrumentalist Hirini Melbourne. Since Melbourne's death, he is regarded as the world's foremost authority on Māori instruments.
Nunns was born in 1945 in Napier. He is a Pākehā of Scandinavian descent and was born into a musical family. As a teacher in his late 20s living in the Waikato, he helped build a marae, which fuelled his interest for Māori culture. At the time, he was a jazz musician.
For many years, he performed with Hirini Melbourne (1949–2003), playing traditional Māori instruments. Together, they researched these instruments, which had not been played for over a century, as their use went out of tradition in the 1900s. For many of the instruments, which were still on display in museums, it wasn't even known what technique was used to play them. They are credited with reviving this part of Māori culture. Since Melbourne's death, he is regarded as the world's foremost authority on Māori instruments.
Nunns co-led the musicians at a dawn ceremony on opening day of Te Papa in 1998. He has made recordings with musicians covering a wide variety of styles, including Moana and the Moahunters, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the New Zealand String Quartet, King Kapisi, and Salmonella Dub. In addition, he has toured with Māori musician Whirimako Black, jazz musician Evan Parker, pianists Marilyn Crispell, Paul Grabowsky and Mike Nock, and flutist Alexa Still. Nunns has worked with composers Gareth Farr, Gillian Whitehead and John Purser. He has contributed to the soundtracks for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and Whale Rider.
Nunns holds an honorary life membership of the New Zealand Flute Association. In 2001, Nunns received a citation for services to music from the Composers Association of New Zealand. He was a category winner twice in the New Zealand Music Awards (in 2006 and 2007). He was bestowed an honorary doctorate by Victoria University of Wellington in 2008 for his contributions to Tāonga Puoro. In the 2009 Queen's Birthday honours Nunns was awarded a Queen's Service Medal. Later that year he and Melbourne were jointly inducted in the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame. Later in the same year, he received a Laureate Award from the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.
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- Video showing Richard Nunns discussing traditional Māori instruments