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Tracy Watson
New Zealand

untitled sculpture - Shane Eggleton
Along with my three children, I reside in a small seaside village in the Moreton Bay region of Queensland, Australia.

I am of Celtic and NZ Māori descent and have tribal affiliations to Te Atiawa, Raukawa, Kahungunu through my dad’s side, and Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi, Kai Tahu through my mum.

I settled in Australia 20 years ago and built a specialist background in ‘change’ where I have managed large scale IT, clinical and HR reform projects and programs on the national, state and local  levels.

I actively give my skills ‘pro bono’ to the local Māori community as well as workshop Toi Māori (things pertaining to Māoridom) wherever and whenever required.

On the poetry side of things, I have run Māori poetry workshops intermittently since 1994 across the South East Queensland region.

Right now I am undertaking postgraduate study in Writing and also keep active in the local community producing two weekly radio programs.

I participate in community events as well as provide cultural advice to organisations, committees and university programs. From time to time I also teach our young kapahaka (Māori performing arts) or take an advisory role in this aspect.

Wheiao (Transition)

Hangi smoke chokes out the light
Drying my river of curdled broth
An acidic tasting memory
Painted in silence

The flickering shutter of each day
Bends rain and shine
Into a stain glass reflection
On my inner labyrinth

A sniffled symphony
Bridged with salted tears
Moko a latté texture
That deafly drums out change

Comforted reminders
Blanketed in warmth
I wiri to the sun
Karanga to the wind
And welcome my new skin.

This poem heavily uses aspects of Māori symbolism to create the emotional turmoil felt in grief and dealing with it. Our culture has strong customs around the physical and metaphysical process one goes through while undertaking this liminal state.

The Whāriki (Mat)

Like family ties

a whāriki


over time

then renews

through a loving


A whāriki in NZ Māori terms is a woven mat. I have used this symbolism to reflect children and family violence which are top social issues for both Australia and New Zealand in 2009. The rhythm softens its strong message. When I mention ‘loving touch’ I advocate the reform programs that are in place to reduce these acts and restore value and belief to family life which used to be at the core of our people’s foundation.

Moemoea...Moana o nga ringa

Ma roto i te rai purotu o te kohu
I hono te karere te kupu ki te waiata
Ko te moemoea o te ora me te oranga
Te pakiwaitara o te iwi o tēnei whenua

Ko te wā o nehe
Ko te wā o tuu
Ko te wā o mutunga kore

Ko te moemoea te hitori o ēnei iwi
Ko te haerenga o te whaiwhaianga
Te karanga o te rā
Te hekenga a tōna kaha
Te hotu manawa o te pō

Te moana o ngā ringa te pōuritanga
Te mamae whakapā o te tihaehae te kiri
o Murri
Te awa o pōuritanga ātanga i
Nga wai pōuriuri o te mamaetanga
Te riu o pēhiangia
O te iwi whakahīhī
Toromingia nā te hēmanawa

Makaia te taura, makaia te taura
Tukua kia tāwhiwhi taku karanga
Karanga ahau i a wairua
Karanga ahau ki te ao
Karanga ahau i a tangata
Karanga ahau i a tangata
Murri...e whakarongo ana koe?

Karanga ahau ma roto i te tomokanga
Kia tonoa aroha me matauria
Kia mohio ko te wero
E hara i roto i te pakanga
Engari kei roto i te wetewetea

Kia huri atu i te whawhai
Me te tuku nō ki te akoranga
Kia huri atu i te pōuri
Kia tangomai te māramatanga
Kia huri atu it e ngākau kore
Kia whakamanahia

Kātahi ka whakakotahitia o hikoitanga

This bilingual poem is about harmonising diversity and reflects upon the collaborative programs and activities the NZ Māori (living in Queensland) with the Murri people (who are indigenous to this State) have undertaken. This earlier foundation helped soothe the recent controversy between the two races (2008/2009).

Dreaming – Sea of Hands

Through the thin veil of mist
The message links word to song
The dreaming is of life and living
The tale of the people of this land

It is the past
It is the present
It is the never ending

The Dreaming is this people’s history
It is the trail of the hunt
The call of the day
The fall of its’ might
The sigh of the night

The sea of hands is the mourning
The pain of infliction piercing the skin
Of Aborigine
The river of sorrow coloured by
The murky waters of suffering
The valley of repression
Of a proud people
Drowning through suffocation

Cast the rope, cast the rope
Let my call entwine
I call the Heavens
I call the Earth
I call Spirit
I call Man
Aborigine, do you hear?

I call through the portal
To send love and knowing
To understand that the challenge
Is not in the battle
But in the releasing

To turn from the fight
And give to learning
To turn from the grief
To receive enlightenment
To turn from despair
To be empowered

Then your steps will be one...