Das Lied von der Erde

Song of the Earth | Pese o Le Moana

Gustav Mahler | Lemi Ponifasio

We sweat and cry salt water, so we know

that the Ocean is really in our blood

Teresia Teaiwa

1 - 27 March

■ creation residency

Lemi Ponifasio begins the creation of his new major work commissioned by Festspielhaus St.Pölten Austria and Hawkes Bay Arts Festival, New Zealand

This project is co-curated by the Mahler Foundation, Vienna.


We sweat and cry salt water, so we know

that the Ocean is really in our blood

Teresia Teaiwa


Lemi Ponifasio re-imagines Gustav Mahler’s epic masterpiece, Das Lied von der Erde, as a battlecry for Earth and to invoke an urgent dialogue between industrialized civilizations and the voices of the world’s Indigenous peoples.

The work is a collaboration between symphony orchestras around the world and Indigenous communities who have continued to coexist since ancient times with water and ocean.

This dialogue will also include communities living on waterways of major cities.


Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au — I am the river and the river is me


In Maori and Pacific cultures, humans and water are intertwined. The Whanganui tribes take their name, spirit, and strength from the Whanganui River they live near. The Whanganui River became the first river in the world to be recognized as a legal person in 2017. This was the culmination of New Zealand’s longest-standing legal battle - more than 160 years - to get legal protection for the river.


The first act will be a ceremony by MAU Wāhine at the source of the Whanganui River.


The world premiere will be in October 2021 at the Hawkes Bay Arts Festival in a collaboration between Maori and Pacific artists and the Hawkes Bay Orchestra, New Zealand. The European premiere will be at Festspeilhaus St.Pölten with the Tonkünstler Orchestra, Austria.


Can we return to bond with our ailing Earth?

We have placed ourselves outside of, and above, nature and assumed human-supremacist domination over Earth.

We have degraded Papatῡānuku with our insatiable craving for power and profit and we have distorted our human relationship with nature and with ourselves.

How do we re-envision ourselves, so that we might re-enact together better ways to be human in our more-than-human world.

Lemi Ponifasio


Ria Paki and Taiahotea Paki-Hill | MAU Wāhine