Doug Poole
New Zealand

for So’ogofai Ulberg & Catherine Fries


Cannons bombard the plantation. My mother, Catherine and I flee to Sogi where the British American forces have assembled. Stationed in the watershed of usurpation — My Father and Peter Jnr are in the plantation. Henry is working in town.

Pneumatophore cut the webs of my toes, branches scratch my arms. The cannon fire sucks the air from my lungs.  My crucifix falls into the mud clinging to my legs, drawing them deeper. As the archers’ arrows fly overhead. My mother calls me on, her legs gliding across the flats. She is weightless, she is Gogo’sina.


USS Philadelphia armament totals 29 guns: 12 × 6 in breech-loading rifles/ 4 × 6-pounder rapid firing guns/ 4 × 3-pounder rapid firing guns/ 2 × 1-pounder rapid firing guns/
3 × 1.4 in revolving cannons/ 4 × Gatling guns

HMS Porpoise armament totals 16 guns: 8 x 6” Guns VCP mount/ 8 x 1” Nordenfelt guns/
6 x Whitehead torpedo tubes/ Archer class vessel.

HMS Royalist armament totals 13 guns: 8 × BL 6-inch, 100-pounder (81cwt) Mk II guns/
1 × light gun /4 × machine guns

HMS Tauranga armament totals 20 guns: 8 x 4.7 inch guns/ 8 x 3-pounder guns/
4 x machine guns



Gogo’sina fed Gogo at midnight, her hands sweet. The Gogo swayed by her song: Descend, transform before me; Descend, feed from my hand — His Pe’a is a long black centipede, a sea snake writhing. She throws the husk mango seed to the Pe’a staring beneath the canopy. ‘What do I care for your staring eyes?’

Lizards crawl glass-eyed on the past, chickens lay eggs the children find (smashing them in biscuits tins). Gogo’sina walks the plantation looking for her lost grandson. The wind curls around her slender arms, pulling her toward Vaiusu bay; the storm surge shipwrecks the Adler before her. Philadelphia’s shells fly overhead, bombarding the plantation.

Sprite Pe’a taunts ‘aye, aye — pepelo, aye, aye — afakasi — aye, aye ulupe.’ Her feathered arms temper the wind to a quiet drawl (Gogo’sina is a masked beauty). Gogo’sina is the diaspora of a grandmother. Gogo’sina is the lost grandson (who ventured too far into the plantation).

Gogo’sina — high priestess avenger; she is the shape finder.


O le pese So’ogofai (Song of So’ogofai)

On my land at Tulaele. A dwelling house of about six rooms, a copra house, kitchen, and a Fale. We had just finished it before the war broke out. We left as soon as the bombardment started — went to Sogi, Apia, and stayed there until the war was over.

It was all lying about broken and destroyed, and so was the crockery. I don't remember how many; that's all. Tables and chairs; don't remember how many. One big mirror, about two big clocks, and a lot of other things; but I have forgotten.

Just the empty house; the copra house was broken — some of the posts were cut off and the floor smashed. The Fale was burned. All the livestock was gone. Yes; pigs and fowls — don't remember how many; three or four cows, some horses.

No; I don't remember anything more.

The Island - Rosie Whinray - 2015