Robert first contacted Southern Cross Flutes in April 2020 – it was one email in a flood of many from people interested in investing in something different due to the imposed confinements of lockdown. But this email stood out – this was not a ‘reaching out for something’ email, but rather a grounded discovery of our kindred connection from someone who already had a deep connection to himself, the natural world, healing and his own creative energy. He found us, and we in turn have discovered someone who holds a rich basket of knowledge of the indigenous trees of Aotearoa, New Zealand.
Let me introduce you to Robert van der Touw, from Northland, New Zealand.
Robert lives and works with the native plants of Aotearoa New Zealand, up in the Kauri forests in the northernmost reaches of our island. Robert has studied native trees for 30 years using homeopathic research techniques and as well as shamanic techniques. Over the years, he has come to know many metaphysical qualities of the woods, including sound. Robert was especially keen to have a flute made from the native timbers that he is so familiar with – producing sound through these woods, is one way to make their inherent medicine come alive. Robert shares;
“I intend with the flute to let the plants speak in their beautiful and unique sounds. I take people into the forest to give them a unique experience in the forest and have had the privilege of taking Tohunga and healers from all over the world into our beautiful Ngahere. “
Robert’s life is devoted to the plants, animals and trees. He makes medicine sticks of all the different timbers to turn them into ambassadors for their kind. The feel of their timbers, many rare, have unique metaphysical properties. Rob acknowledges the privilege to work with them.
There has been a rich back and forth of emails with Robert, in one email, he delighted me by asking for a new flute with the exact same specifications as my dream flute (yet to be made): an Ancient Kauri E minor Love Flute with a Whale totem. I couldn’t believe it and told Robert!
Robert responded in his wise sage way;
I am thrilled we both will have a Kauri/Whale flute. So apt as they are both giants of earth and sea! And Whale is the keeper of sound to some Native American tribes.
According to Maori legend the Whale exchanged skin with the Kauri and they have a deep relationship. I heard from a friend that a Maori healer had found a remedy for the Kauri dieback. That remedy has crushed whalebone as one of its ingredients.
The Jamie Sams Totem Cards describe the whale as a swimming library of sounds. One whale makes a sound, that sound is taken over by another whale and so forth. She describes them as record-keepers of everything in the ocean. Taking into account that life may have started in the ocean, the whale has records from the very beginning of the emanation of life.
Similarly the gum of the kauri has imprinted in it everything that happened around it during that tree’s life span. Did you know each ancient Kauri tree has a different sound? A different story having absorbed all that happened around it. I have here the wood of a fallen Ancient Kauri with the most beautiful grain that I wonder if you can make a flute out of. [editor’s note: yes we can!]
I have experienced that with several of my students and friends. I used to make homeopathic medicine from old Kauri, and some of the people that took the medicine experienced in their dreams what happened around that tree in the past.
So to play the Kauri Whale flute is a very special thing. Many ‘whale people’ are like libraries themselves, gathering and recording knowledge in their memory bank, computer etc.
Perhaps we can connect with all like minded souls by playing this wonderful instrument. Or at the very least we can tap into the majestic spirit of the Kauri and the Whale!!
Well, I did use to be a librarian before this job, so this is apt!
When I mentioned I was focusing our next newsletter on sound healing, Robert offered me to post an article he’d written:
Sound, the very essence of all that is created by Robert van der Touw
Thank you Robert for sharing your wisdom, knowledge and creative talents with our community!
Robert has a D minor Western Red Cedar Grandfather Flute, C minor Ancient Kauri Grandfather Flute and an F# minor Love Flute from Southern Cross Flutes. His E minor Love Flute is currently being built.
Links to Robert’s music, videos, artwork and an article he wrote on the nature of sound, follow on from his testimonial below.
Hi Ahly, the flutes have arrived safely! Will take me some time to get to know them. Beautiful authentic flutes!!
Glad you suggested I should get a Kauri flute. The Bm is amazing. As I play it for the first time I am looking at the Aquarius full moon. Owls are hooting all around me. The Kauri flute sounds, even with my limited skills, deep and responds to the owl so well. She moves with soul, a soulful song the owls know so well. I look forward to playing her amongst the ancient Kauris here. When we love trees they thrive on our love. And being separated is of no benefit to either of us. In this time we need nature and the Kauris more than ever. The Kauri flute sings of the song of the sorrow of our separation from each other, from nature, from our soul. And she entices us back to who we truly are, at one with nature and the universe.
I just had to tell you! I was holding my new Cedar flute in both hands and I can feel a beautiful wonderful energy from the timber. I am sending this because I would like Bruce to know that he puts a beautiful energy into the wood and that allows for the wood to speak, with the heart. These flutes are a spiritual tool to re-connect. … The creator of the flute is as important as the material that is used, probably even more important. Like with cooking, the true quality of the dish is determined by the cook and not just the ingredients.
Robert’s YouTube Channel (featuring all of his song compositions)
(Robert uses a free video software; Pixel, and adds his art in the background).
Robert’s art online
Robert playing his Ancient Kauri Grandfather Flute from Southern Cross Flutes
ROBERT’S MUSIC FEATURING FLUTES FROM SOUTHERN CROSS FLUTES
- Grandfather Kauri (with Grandfather Flute)
- The Magic Flute (with Grandfather Flute)
- Nature Symphony (with Grandfather Flute)
- Call of the Seal (with Grandfather Flute)
- Song for the Trees (with Grandfather Flute)
- Twin Souls (with Grandfather Flute)
- Dancing with Black Bear (with Grandfather Flute)
- The Fairy Queen (with Grandfather Flute)
- Spirit of Air (with Love Flute)
- Song for the Kakapo (with Love Flute)
- Shaman’s Breath (with Grandfather Flute)
- Rhianna (with Love Flute)