The pūtōrino is shaped like the cocoon of the case moth, Tūngou ngou. The pūtōrino is said to possess both female and male ‘voices’. Some instruments emit a third voice, said to be a wairua (spiritual) voice. Pūtōrino are made from split and hollowed hardwood, sealed together with natural gums and bound by fine, split vines. The pūtōrino pictured was made by Potaka Taite, gifted to Te Papa as part of the Haumanu collection in 1997. The wood is mataī, bound with split vine.

Richard Nunns playing the pūtōrino

An exquisitely diminutive, carved pūtōrino (bugle flute) on display in the Nelson Provincial Museum Pupuri Taonga o Te Tai Ao, was brought to life recently by master pūoro authority and instrumentalist, Dr Richard Nunns QSM.

Dr Richard Nunns QSM

Te Papa is starting to document Richard talking about his extensive personal collection of taonga pūoro. The opportunity for Richard to examine this unique  pūtōrino in the museum was too much to miss. Whether this taonga still retained its 'voice'-or sound, after more than half a century of silent museum life, was a moment of great anticipation...

More about this Pūtōrino

The pūtōrino is part of a large collection of Māori and Pacific items that were purchased by the New Zealand Government in 1948 from William Ockelford Oldman (1879-1949), an English art and ethnographic collector and dealer. This collection was distributed amongst New Zealand's museums, where they remain on long term loan from Te Papa. The pūtōrino, registration number Oldman 32, was sent to the Nelson Provincial museum shortly after the collections acquisition in 1948.

Museum registration number-Oldman 32
Iwi affiliations currently unknown


Te Papa thanks the Nelson Provincial Museum, Board of Trustees and Iwi Komiti; in particular Peter Millward and Paula Haines-Bellamy. Thank you to Dr Richard Nunns QSM and Rachel Bush
Photography and film-Norman Heke
Interviewer-Awhina Tamarapa