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(SSAATTBB choir, piano 4-hands, and fixed electronics) 25'

Preview score

Programme note

The longer I am away from home, the more often I find myself considering what it means to be a New Zealander, and what special traits we hold up as particular to our sense of ourselves and who we aspire to be.


I wanted to write a piece about New Zealanders who have stood against prevailing calls for war and who suffered in different ways for the positions they took. Pacific sets to music the words of three well-known New Zealand peace advocates: Te Whiti o Rongomai III, Archibald Baxter, and David Lange. Each offered profoundly moving arguments against aggression, and each paid a high price for their courage in the face of a much more powerful aggressor. In each case, their words came to change the course of New Zealand history, and change the way we think about ourselves.


Pacific is made possible with the support of the Peace and Disarmament Education Trust. 




Te Whiti o Rongomai III


“Though some, in darkness of heart, seeing their land ravished, might wish to take arms and kill the aggressors, I say it must not be. Let not the Pakeha think to succeed by reason of their guns ... I want not war, but they do. The flashes of their guns have singed our eyelashes, and yet they say they do not want war ... The government comes not hither to reason, but goes to out-of-the-way places. They work secretly, but I speak in public so that all may hear.”


  • Speech to people of Parihaka, 1880


Archibald Baxter


“Everywhere there was mud and slush and men always floundering through it by tracks and duckwalks that were always being blown up. I was told that a million men had fallen there. The cemetery of a million men! It was still being shelled and the yawning mouths of the countless shell-holes were ready to suck in the living men who moved day and night among them like maggots in the slime.”


  • Excerpt from We Will Not Cease by Archibald Baxter (Cape Catley 2014).


David Lange 


 “We are in fact to be made an example of; we are to be ostracised, we are to be convicted of some form of heresy and put on probation. We are going to be kept there until we are compelled to resume our seat in the dress circle of the nuclear theatre.”


“It is my conviction that there is no moral case for nuclear weapons.”


“Rejecting nuclear weapons is to assert what is human over the evil nature of the weapon; it is to restore to humanity the power of the decision, it is to allow a moral force to reign supreme. It stops the macho lurch into mutual madness, and for me, the position of my country is a genuine, long-term affirmation of this proposition;

that nuclear weapons are morally indefensible, and I support that proposition.”


  • Excerpts from a speech arguing "That all Nuclear Weapons are Morally Indefensible" at the Oxford Union debate, 1 March 1985.

Electronic setup

You will need:

To play the fixed electronics


  • A laptop with free QLab software (there is currently no tablet/iPad version of QLab)

  • A MIDI foot pedal and cable to connect it to the laptop

  • Stereo speakers and mixing desk

  • Audio interface and cables from laptop to mixing desk


For amplification (required)


  • Microphones

  • Microphone stands

  • XLR cables connecting the microphone to the mixing desk

  • Speakers

Pacific - a piece by composer Gemma Peacocke
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