Part-Slave of Occupiers
With thanks to Te Wānanga Aotearoa
For Ilze, Marguerita & Graeme
And for Melba and in loving memory of Rore
And of dear comrade Barbel
Part-tourist, part-visitor, part-tauiwi occupier/overstayer,
– Though knowing no other land –
Part-slave of occupiers, learning to break their chains,
I approach with fear because I must,
Walking in the forgotten skin of my ancestors
– How can I claim I should be welcome here?
But here I am at the marae,
Waiting with friends outside the taiepa
For the karanga to begin, following their familiar lead.
We move as one into the waharoa,
Pause as one.
I listen, but I cannot hear the meaning
Why we pause,
Move on again to the call.
Here we are manuhiri all, but I am pākehā.
Beyond, the whare whakairo:
This body cradles time, shelters life.
Mihi, whaikōrero are offered & exchanged,
Waiata flow melodiously through my ignorant ears
– Understanding some kupu begins to help,
But words are only words –
On the marae ātea I am as usual
Rightly insignificant & small, dazzled by history,
And then the hongi line of home people makes me real
– Greetings with such warmth and unaccusing love
Bring us whole into the wharenui –
Across the paepae
Shedding the dust with our shoes,
Under the mahau, the roro.
The tekoteko stands, has stood, the koruru can see.
I glimpse the maihi, stretching raparapa, as amo
Taller than us all shepherd us in through the kūaha,
The pare overhead, framed by whakawae – for us living.
Over there the matapihi,
Putanga auahi as it was called,
So spirits fly.
Inside, we sit our either sides of the tāhuhu.
The rara/heke of this great tinana, threaded by kaho
Hold up the pakitara/patu
Sharing strength with the poupou
And pou tāhū, pou tokomanawa, pou tuarongo to the back,
While climbing up & in between whakairo
The tukutuku panels:
Poutama, pātiki, purapura-whetū...
That much I know, but only
By dim sense of long-lost memories.
I am illiterate to the language of whakairo,
Blind to tukutuku & kōwhaiwhai:
The geography of the stars, their dust
The daily lives of fish
The interwoven balances of man & world
Able only to wonder at the histories to be read.
Able only to let my eyes follow the shapes, & feel.
So glad to be made welcome here,
Walking in the forgotten skin of my ancestors.
Glossary of Te Reo Māori - Māori Language
(meanings specific to this use, in use order)
Māori - ordinary, indigenous people of Aotearoa
wānanga - place of learning, university
tauiwi – other/strange people, non-Māori residents
marae - meeting area of whānau, hāpu, iwi
ie family, clan/sub-tribe, tribe/people; courtyard
taiepa - fence, wall
karanga - call, summon, welcome, eg onto the marae
waharoa - entrance to fortified pā (waha: mouth, roa: long)
manuhiri - guest, visitor
pākehā - residents of predominantly European descent
whare whakairo - carved house
mihi - lament, acknowledge, praise
whaikōrero - make formal speech
waiata - songs
kupu - words
marae ātea - open area in front of carved house
wairua - spirit
hongi - salute by pressing noses
wharenui - big/main meeting house
paepae - threshold of porch
mahau, roro - porch of whare
tekoteko - carved figure on gable of whare
koruru - carved face on gable of whare
maihi - carved upper facing boards on gable
raparapa - projecting carved lower facing boards on gable
amo - carved posts supporting maihi, raparapa
kūaha - doorway, mouth
pare - carved lintel, slab over door
whakawae - carved uprights of doorway (wae: foot, leg)
matapihi - window
putanga auahi - pathway/outlet for smoke
(our either sides) - manuhiri: guests/tāngata whenua: home people
tāhuhu - ridgepole of whare
rara - ribs
heke - rafters, thighs
tinana - body, real, actual
kaho - battens
pakitara - side walls
patu - thatch
poupou - internal support posts
Carved support posts of ridgepole:
pou tāhū - front support post
pou tokomanawa - middle post
pou tuarongo - rear post
whakairo - carvings
tukutuku - lattice/weaving work on panels,
poutama - steps pattern
pātiki - flounder pattern
purapura-whetū - weaving pattern of stars
kōwhaiwhai - scrolling patterns painted on rafters
Parkhouse, Oakley Hospital, 1976
Today I was judged,
Re-sentenced to a term of indefinite insanity
(soluble in water swallowed twice-daily
with certain chemical additives which
render me Reality in all its glory).
Let myself be led away from hope.
Admitted compromising mood swings.
Resolved not to reveal extraneous emotions.
Even not to feel.
Normality is just so hard to ape.
How do normal people cope?