Story: Māori musical instruments – taonga puoro

Playing the pūtātara

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.

Using this item

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Reference: ME003937

Permission of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

Courtesy of Richard Nunns and Bob Bickerton

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How to cite this page:

Brian Flintoff, 'Māori musical instruments – taonga puoro - Māori musical concepts', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/music/42153/playing-the-putatara (accessed 19 July 2019)

Story by Brian Flintoff, published 22 Oct 2014