Introducing the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra's Matauranga concert, conductor Carlos Kalmar spoke of the diverse cultural backgrounds of its four composers and the potentially unifying role of music.

His stirring conclusion lingered throughout the evening: "We are all in this together, and it can work."

It certainly did work from the first mysterious murmurings of Michael Norris' new Matauranga (Rerenga), marking the current Cook anniversary with a highly charged blending of Alistair Fraser's taonga pūoro and full orchestra.

The often fragile sounds of the Māori instruments were mixed live by Norris, merging with and oscillating around a vibrant orchestral palette.