The urgent, carrying sound of the pūtātara (shell trumpet) could be heard over a long distance, so it is ideal for signalling or ceremonial purposes. Pūtātara were usually made from native conch shells, but sometimes from triton shells, a non-native species that occasionally washed up on northern beaches. This 19th-century example is made from a conch shell with a carved wooden mouthpiece, and a feather and muka (flax fibre) thong. Listen to the pūtātara being played.
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Courtesy of Richard Nunns and Bob Bickerton