Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Sound Meanings: Acoustic Approaches to Flutes from Aotearoa and the Pacific

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posted on 2024-05-14, 01:22 authored by Bo Yang

This PhD thesis delves into an exploration of five distinctive flute-like instruments Indigenous to New Zealand and the greater Polynesian region. The study focuses on three noteworthy Māori taonga pūoro instruments—namely, the pūtōrino, kōauau, and nguru—along with two types of nose flutes found within Polynesian territories. Through the analytical methods of signal processing, with a strong emphasis on fundamental analysis and spectral investigation, the sounds of these instruments are thoroughly investigated. These methodologies offer a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of the intricate sounds produced by these culturally significant instruments. Incorporating the field of acoustics, the study establishes the link between the auditory attributes of these instruments and their acoustic structures. By meticulously scrutinizing sound characteristics, this research seeks to speculate on the inherent connections and subsequently distills these insights into a comprehensive summary. This study also examines an extensive array of collected specimens, allowing for insightful speculations regarding the unique qualities of these samples and the significance of various construction intricacies. Further, this dissertation delves into the relationship that exists between the documented findings and various facets of instrumental craftsmanship, performance, and usage, which contributes significantly to the realm of music studies focused on these specific instruments. This comprehensive exploration not only enhances the understanding of the musical heritage rooted in New Zealand and greater Polynesia but also sheds light on the broader cultural and sociocultural context in which these instruments hold immense value.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Ethnomusicology; Musicology

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

211299 Pacific Peoples heritage and culture not elsewhere classified

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

New Zealand School of Music


Diettrich, Brian; Murphy, Jim