PINK AND WHITE TERRACES for flute and harp
The Pink and White Terraces near Rotorua, with their thermal pools, were known as the eighth wonder of the world and were New Zealand's most famous beauty spot and tourist attraction in the nineteenth century.
"Set in a basin of pure white silica, delicately carved and fretted, lay a pool of pale blue water, so pure in colour, so opaque in substance." (Mrs. Howard Vincent, tourist)
The terraces were reached by a three-hour canoe ride across Lake Tarawera, followed by an hour's walk. On May 31st 1886, at different times of day, the occupants of two canoes, both Maori and non-Maori alike, saw an extraordinary sight.
"We were startled by a cry from an old Maori woman. We distinctly saw a Maori war canoe gliding along, apparently racing us." (George Sise, tourist)
"The Maoris said it was a phantom canoe and predicted that it would be the end of the world. No such canoe as we had seen now existed." (Louise Sise, tourist)
The mysterious sighting did indeed herald the end of their world, for after eleven days and many ominous tremors, Mount Tarawera erupted violently in the early hours of June 10th, 1886, burying several villages, killing around 120 people and destroying the Pink and White Terraces.
The music seeks to evoke the unearthly beauty of the Terraces. The old Maori woman's cry on seeing the phantom canoe is heard in bar 64 and the piece ends uneasily as night falls on the eve of the fatal eruption.
Duration 8 minutes
Should a player be available, a taonga puoro (Maori native instruments) improvisation evoking the sighting of the waka wairua (spirit canoe) and the subsequent predictions of disaster may be inserted at bar 66.
Click the play button below to hear a performance which has been computer-generated from the score.