Precious traditional musical instruments were central to a taonga puoro workshop in Owaka last week.

About a dozen young people and parents took advantage of the three-day school holiday workshop at Basil and Baylys Hall, which was an initiative by local practising artist, carver and educator Ben Whitaker, with help from Clutha District Council’s creative arts fund.

‘‘It’s a taonga puoro workshop aimed at rangatahi [young people], an opportunity to bring the arts and te ao Maori world view to rural communities using traditional stories, taonga puoro [musical instruments] as the vehicle,’’ Mr Whitaker said

Youth from 5 to 14 spent time at the hall designing and creating their own haruru puru (bull-roarers) from native timber and sharing kai (food), purakau (stories), waiata (songs) and legends.

Mr Whitaker explained the kind of traditional, holistic learning the workshop achieved.

‘‘We’re honouring the traditional stories in retelling them, so the hearers can get a taste of the constructive principles and lessons held in the stories as they interact with each other and the world.

‘‘A big part of te ao Maori is connection to atua Maori [spiritual ancestors], like when we all go down to the beach and feel the natural energy in our own way, but see that everyone else feels it too, something bigger than the individual.’’

Father of four Nick Barrett praised the workshop for building on what was available from mainstream education.

‘‘It’s important to us. This course helps lot of important learnings about ancestors and stories from Maoridom and the kids really love it.’’