Why Taiko? Understanding Taiko performance at New Zealand's first Taiko Festival.

Henry Johnson


Established and active taiko (Japanese drumming) groups in New Zealand have a relatively short history. While one group was founded nearly two decades ago, and has a connection to tertiary education, several other groups have emerged more recently as a result of individual enthusiasm and community interest. At the core of much of this taiko activity is a negotiation between innovation and authenticity. Based on ethnographic research at New Zealand's first taiko festival, this paper highlights the ways players often look to Japan as the home of taiko, yet at the same time include experimentation as a way of realising the existence of a taiko group in contemporary New Zealand. The study of diaspora and transplanted music has received much attention in ethnomusicological discourse in recent years, and this paper addresses issues pertinent to this literature as well as identifying themes relevant to the New Zealand context. The aim of the research is to document taiko activities in New Zealand and attempt to understand some of the transformations that are a result of this practice.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11157/sites-vol5iss2id104