May 9, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

The passing of a Musical Healer, Te Puoho Katene (1927-2010)

2 min read

Our love and condolences to whanau, friends and colleagues of Te Puoho Katene (Ngati Toa, Te Atiawa), renowned Musician and healer.

Te Puoho Katene (QSM) was born on 21 October 1927 and has spent much of his working and community life promoting and supporting the arts through direct involvement, advisory roles and extensive writing about Maori arts and culture.

Taraiana Turia Co-leader of the Maori Party said of Matua Te Puoho, “He was a great believer in the power of music and its ability to heal and I know he will be sorely missed by hundreds of children and people with special needs who grew so fond of him.”

He studied fine art at the Canterbury School of Art where he developed a love for choral music and started learning the piano, an instrument that he still holds a great love for. He left before he graduated and enrolled at Victoria University to study music, where he learnt composition under master composer Douglas Lilburn. But a call from his iwi meant he decided not to finish his degree then, although he later returned to University and graduated with a BA in Music and Maori in 1991.

In the meantime, he had pursued his love of choral music through composing, arranging and conducting choirs, mainly church related. He was a founding director of the New Zealand Maori Chorale and on the wall of his Porirua home he proudly displays on his walls gold and platinum albums won by the New Zealand Maori Chorale for sales of Songs of New Zealand in 1978. He is also known for his composing work and such is the regard in which he is held that the National Male Choir of New Zealand commissioned four compositions from him especially for a tour of Wales in 2000.

In 2005, Te Puoho (83) was honoured with a life membership from the New Zealand Society for Music Therapy which uses music to assist the healing and personal growth of people with identified emotional, intellectual, physical or social needs.

He was a member of the International Society of Music Education (ISME) as well as serving on various local and national committees including 12 years as a trustee for SOUNZ, the Centre for New Zealand Music. For about 15 years he was the kaumatua at Toi Whakaari The New Zealand Drama School.

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