I'm a mother of three, and we are from Te Whanau-a-Apanui on our Dad's side and Atihaunui-a-Paparangi from Mum. Our whakapapa or ancestry also includes Saxon and Scots tipuna, but I have yet to learn anything of substance about them. We were raised in a caravan on land named Te Pari Pari not far from Te Kaha on the east coast of the north island of New Zealand.
The poetry of our people is usually moteatea, and all the ancient forms of verbal literacy that still flourish at home. My effort is styled in the same way as as those.
Heoi ano, na
Te Kiira Diane Parkinson
"It'll be choice."
" Everyone will be there."
I couldn't think of anything I'd like less. "Everyone," is the seething swarm that passes for our family. En masse they scare the liver out of me with the rules that apply. Females are for working and fucking. The ugly ones work, the pretty ones fuck. There are no other situations vacant. Please do not stand in the aisle. I pretend I'm thinking hard about something, and they wash past.
It takes me ages to get ready, cos' I know whatever I wear it won't be good enough, and I find myself wishing the aliens would abduct me. It must be my turn by now. I pause for a hopeful second . but nothing happens. Bloody typical, it's so hard to get good help these days. How come with these raw materials I manage to be ugly? Mum and Dad are gorgeous, the Boys are gorgeous, even the fucken dog is gorgeous.
"Are you adopted?" asked my mate. I thought, "fuck you bitch," thoughts and laughed. Then I realised she was serious.
"Um, no" I replied.
"Really?" she asked, looking from them, to me, to them.
"Hey Mum," and I surprise her with a tentative peck on the check. She's already turning away, so I end up stumbling. Way to make an entrance.
"I think everyone's in the kitchen," she says.
I can safely assume there'll be no calling on me for fucking today then. On the upside there's always tons of gossip in by the kai. Then I see all the people I'll have to get through on my way to the dining hall, so as I'm walking I pretend I'm thinking hard about something, and they wash past.
I can see Dad in a scrum of men out the back. As usual he's doing all the talking and the rest have their heads down. Crouch, touch, engage. With all the attention they're giving that hangi it should be bloody beauty when they lift it. I take the risk that he might see me and stop to grin at my feet, but I don't linger, no point in living too dangerously. It's always been like that.
"Geese he's a hard man, that Father of yours eh?"
" Bloody hard man."
"Yep, he's a hard man alright."
"Bloody hard man."
"How you Aunty?"
"Yeah, hello Girl, how are you?"
"Yeah, good good. Whatabout you?"
"Good, yeah good."
I garnish every kiss on the cheek with a loud "mwah" noise and I find myself wondering if being Maori means you know how to pucker up. I take care not to miss anyone out, 'cos they might talk about me later. Actually I know they won't but it's kind've cheering to think they might. In the kitchen I look busy; I watch anyone I want without them noticing me, I stuff food in my mouth on the sly, and the bone on bone grind of the day washes past.