The earthquake that hit Christchurch in February 2011 took the lives of 181 people. Being asked to write this work in their memory was an honour, but I didn’t want it to simply be performed as a memorial. I wanted to compose a work that conveyed the sadness and grief for those lost – a work of remembrance – but also a piece of music that represented peace, hope and strength.
The title and dedication come direct from the commissioners of the work, Woolston Brass Band. The Pohutukawa Trees stay standing and secure, defiant of the earthquake, in Christchurch’s ‘Garden City’, and the Pohutukawa tree also has special significance beyond their physical appearance.
According to Maori mythology, the spirits of the dead travel to Cape Reinga on their journey to the afterlife to leap off the headland and climb the roots of the 800 year old Pohutukawa tree and descend to the underworld to return to their traditional homeland of Hawaiiki-a-nui, using the Te Ara Wairua, the ‘Spirits’ pathway’.
The Pohutukawa Stands is dedicated to the lives lost in the Christchurch earthquake.