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Amber Finau
New Zealand

from: Angipanis of the Abanimal People - Andy Leleisi'auo
Amber Whariki Mary Finau.  I am 56 years old born of Maori & Pakeha parents.  I am married to an entrepreneurial Tongan aircraft engineer who is best known by some as the commoner who started an airline in opposition to the (now) King of Tonga.   But that’s another story waiting to be told.
I have three children.  The eldest, the only child I gave birth to & this alone makes him precious to me, is 33.  My two whangai/pusiaki daughters are 26 & 11.  They are chosen treasures.  I have four mokopuna & don’t see nearly enough of them.
In the past eight years we have lived in Tonga, Fiji, the Turks & Caicos Islands & now Singapore.  We touch base in Auckland, where we have a small lifestyle block, as often as we can.
Now we're living in Singapore where the generous proportions of our family members permanently mark us as manuhiri. Fit in, blend in? Not a chance! Make the most of it - certainly. However, in an effort to re-capture my "belonging" I have spent time recollecting. These then are some of my recollections. 

They are not all so dark.


We were going out and asked Dad to come and babysit for us.  We got
back late. Dad was sleeping on the couch being watched by the TV. Jenna
was asleep in her room.  We chatted to Dad for a little while then headed
for bed.  We knew Dad would go back to sleep for a while longer then leave
for home early in the morning before we surfaced.  We were asleep in no

3am!  Spook time!  Look out, look out the kehua are about!

Chanting! What the hell…?

I’m too scared to move but my mate had a few and he’s still out to it.  He
won’t wake, maybe he isn’t meant to.  The radio in Jenna’s room is blaring
it’s some scary-sounding moteatea.

I’ve gotta get to her, make sure she’s OK can‘t understand why she hasn‘t
woken.  Skin prickled, hair raised, shivering, panicky.  Can’t find the light.. light
won’t work.. where’s the radio..the off nerves are
screaming get out, run, can’t turn it off!  Rip it out of the wall.


Jenna is OK, still sleeping.  Still stunned, I wander out into the upstairs
passageway.  Dad is standing there in the dark looking up at me.  Does he
speak to me?  I don’t recall that he did.  Maybe he mumbled something
about time to go.

Shortly afterwards he did go – for good – suddenly dead of a heart attack
while cleaning his car.

Goodbye my beloved father.

She’s gone so why can’t I mourn her passing?

03.03.03 she died.

Suddenly.   A swift death?   A gradual death methinks.  The woman who
baked and sang and loved - a mere shadow of herself at the end. 
Someone I no longer knew well.  She no longer knew herself.  Consumed
by her obsession of infidelity.

So who the hell is “she”?  You know the ole saying “she’s the cat’s mother”.
“She” in this case is my Mother, Janice Melva Anderson King Hewitt and me? 
I’m the first of the litter, Amber Whariki Mary King Morrell Finau.

Was the infidelity obsession my deceased father’s way of balancing the
books?  Payback for the way she had treated him? Utu? Revenge?

I don’t believe where Mum was concerned Dad was a vengeful man. 
However, where Donald’s concerned mercy certainly does not “droppeth as
the gentle rain from heaven”.  No mercy.  No quarter given.  He goes to the
grave piece by piece.  Literally.  A leg amputated.  An eye removed.  Ears
cropped?  Och aye me hearties.  Yo ho ho and another whisky down the
hatch.  Did she drive the man to drink?  Undoubtedly.  It was definitely his
own way of self-medicating and sure as hell saved his sanity in the face of
Mother‘s lunacy.

I can no longer bear to hear which part of his anatomy goes to join Mother
next.  And yet did she not chip away at him over the years?  What happens
to him now is but the physical manifestation of the psychological
dismembering that took place over the time they were together.

Theirs was a relationship that grew out of their mutual infidelity - each to
their own wedded partner, and I, a witness to and party to her

Comfort Zone

When you've roamed about a fair amount
you stop trying to be a turtle
Carting your home about on your back
You become more selective
you have little lightweight memory triggers

As I sit in this room in Singapore
In my fifth home in eight years
I see...

My dancers from Bali
painted in beautifully bold hues
bartered for on a hot and sticky afternoon
memento of our rendezvous with baby brother Dallas on the occasion of his 50th birthday
reminder too of the bewildering and dazzling array of arts and crafts that assaulted the eye grown accustomed to the straitlaced orderliness of Singapore

My Easter bouquet from Ventimeglia
A chance trip to Monaco
A train ride into Italy
and a wander around the village
with two equally enchanted tauhou conference wives

My Debbie lizard
Caribbean reminder of my Philadelphian Jewish boss
I was Provo's UPS lady
Working illegally coz my local big boss
Was related to the country's boss
Who was married to a sitcom starlet
Who styled herself First Lady

Tatyana's art work
Her Provo Picaso
Her Waipipi kiwi cloth collage
Pictured before he volunteered to give up his fine plumage
and his ability to fly
to control the bugs for Tanemahuta
And her Singapore triple lotus
pastel creations
Daddy, Mummy and Daughter blooms
Raved over by her cancer-ridden CIS teacher, lovely Lisa

My Moses kete
Worked by my wondrous weaver friend
Takutai Moana Linda Alexandra
and given to me when we turned up on her doorstep
all unannounced
I wondered who I was making this for she laughed
As she told me her moko and separation tales

I stitched a couple of embellishments on the kete
Two earrings from Samoa
Small works of art of coconut wood and weaving
Reminders of the time I lost the plot
In Aggie Grey's travelling too soon after Dad's demise
Bipolar and weeping at the loss amidst the beauty
Of Sunday's choral worship

My Niuean Taniwha on tapa
in his watery egg-shaped whirlpool
or is it a stylized sperm of many-nesian ethnicity
Poised at the moment of ova penetration
On the very brink of creation
A gift from my gifted lesbian friend
Who witnessed our wedding
in the Blue Pacific nightclub grounds

And of course the photos
Promise-filled smiles and liquid innocence eyes
Small me'a'ofa
Love tokens
Such rich memories to sit amongst
And recall the giving and receiving
Love shared