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Mindfulness, harp music, and Te Ao Māori

Harpist Maria Te Rangimāria Oxnam (Rangitāne, Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Te Arawa) fell into the art almost by accident, taking a year-long harp-building class in order to spend time with the course leader and friend Bele Malik.

“That was when I was first introduced to the harp ... for a year it was a building project, and at the end of the project I had a harp and thought I should learn how to play it.”

Since the lessons from her friend and many years of self-taught practice, Oxnam said it became something she took for granted – both of her daughters play the harp, as well – but the instrument was one she felt most Māori and Pasifika people had no access to.

“I sent their little practice [video] clips to family and friends, and the response I got back was quite emotional,” she said. “I take it for granted that in my house we play, but I felt like I needed to take it outside my home.”

She said from next term, she would be providing harp lessons to Victory school’s bilingual classes, taking a Te Ao Māori approach to the instrument.

“Seeing children of Māori and Pasifika descent play it brings me great joy,” she said. “What I'm wanting to do is share it, share the joy in this instrument.”

She said she taught the instrument in a way that placed harp music in a Te Ao Māori and Pasifika context, which made it more accessible.

“I'm also looking at our stories, our atua (gods). The body of the instrument comes from the forest of Tāne Mahuta, the sound is carried by Tāwhirimātea (the god of weather/wind). It all comes to our creation myths and stories, it enriches the experience.”

That multicultural lens will also filter into the lunchtime mindfulness session, a 45-minute guided relaxation and meditation hosted at the Makeshift Space Cultural Conversations room at 222 Hardy St, across the road from 623 In The City restaurant.

Oxnam is joining forces with Nadia Dysart of Nourish My Self for the lunchtime concert in the Cultural Conversations Make/Shift Space. It will be the last event hosted in its Hardy St location before it moves to Morrison Square.

Dysart runs various mindfulness sessions, including a five-week course specifically aimed at helping children develop emotional resilience, and if the lunchtime harp and mindfulness exercise proves popular said she would consider making the event a recurring one.

“People can come and go as the need to, we realise that different people have different lunch breaks.

“It's just an opportunity to focus inwards in the middle of the day.”

Nourish My Self, Thursday, April 8 12:45-13:30. Free, donations welcomed.

Source: Skara Bohny07:30, Apr 07 2021, Stuff



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