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O Little One

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voice and piano
Year composed:
c. 3:00
A4, pp6, digital download (PDF)
Lauris Edmond’s poignant lyrics bring to life the April 1843 story of an intimate relationship between a compassionate woman, Sarah Ironside, with a baby in her care, the daughter of murder victim Rangihaua Kuika, who was a niece of Te Rauparaha. This was a time of increasing tension between some Māori and settlers which led to the June 1843 Wairau Affray, an early incident in the New Zealand Land Wars. Earlier, Sarah’s husband, Samuel Ironside, had been persuading the victim’s family and friends to put their faith in the new justice system, which had been established for all New Zealanders after the Treaty of Waitangi signing. But he and they were shocked when Rangihaua’s murderer, a Pākehā called Dick Cook, was tried and discharged, this verdict being justified because ‘It was only a Māori girl’. Originally from the music drama Taku Wana (1998/2002), the composing process for ‘O Little One’ began in 1993: a journey of kōrero and whanaungatanga with Maui John and Hilary Mitchell (historians), Rangimoana Taylor (artistic director), Lauris Edmond (poet), Linden Loader (mezzo-soprano), kaumātua of Whakatū Marae, and finally in 2021, with Jenny Wollerman (soprano) and Jian Liu (piano) as part of 21×21.