A Waka Odyssey

We’re all just stardust

16 February 2018

Composer Warren Maxwell went on a "fully Bowie galactic" sound trip while creating the score for A Waka Odyssey. Hear about the inspiration behind his Kupe: Festival Opening Night soundtrack in Day 16 of our digital journey.

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“This is the most exciting thing I have been involved with in a very long time,” says Warren Maxwell, A Waka Odyssey Composer.

Maxwell wanted to work on the project as it brings all of the things he loves together; nature, the sea, music and family.

“Being part of this has changed the way I approach music and use instrumentation. I come from the school of ‘you play bass, you play drums and we’ll get someone to sing’. Writing for this is completely different.”

He makes the comparison between modern culture being so fast paced and digitally oriented with the process of voyaging taking a long time, and reminds people to take the time to look up at the stars.

A Waka Odyssey is a story about where humanity sits in the universe, it comes from navigating by the stars and that has meant the music has been on a fully Bowie galactic trip! It’s gone from being a cultural trip to a galactic adventure.”

Creating an emotional journey has seen him taking his cue from nature. Maxwell has used the sounds from NASA of Saturn's rings and comets with the sounds of seals under two metres of sea ice, which he recorded on a recent trip to Antarctica. He then put them through a piece of software to manipulate them into the layered sonic landscape, recorded at Massey University.

“It is a challenging and exciting and it’s going to be amazing – come on down and check it out at the Kupe: Festival Opening Night show!” says Maxwell.


Each day, starting  1 February 2018, we will share new videos and stories online so you too can join the journey in the lead up to the start of A Waka Odyssey, 23 February – 4 March 2018. Be part of the story via our website festival.co.nz/waka, on the New Zealand Festival's Facebook and Instagram pages, or using the hashtag #NZFestival and #NZWaka. 


Join in A Waka Odyssey celebrations at the spectacular theatrical extravaganza KupeFestival opening night set on Wellington's waterfront; the Kupe Landing: Petone Family Day – a fun beach party for all the whānau; and the Kupe Dreaming series of waka-themed community events and activities. 

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