Poem Notes


In early Maori times the mokihi – or flax raft – was an efficient way of negotiating the rivers of Canterbury in the South Island of Aotearoa. Pita Paipeta was a respected elder and Ratana minister from Arowhenua near Temuka. He would have shown Hugh McCully, an avid collector of artefacts throughout South Canterbury, how to make the raft. I compare it to a child's pram – and the way in which Maori children would have looked over the side of the raft as it was being ferried across a river – in a sense it is timeless and crosses generations and cultures.

Origin Unknown

A greenstone mere was found by recreational divers in deep water off the coast of Kaikoura. I have illustrated the poem with a warrior running from the fortified pā sites on the Kaikoura Peninsula to his canoe, but being intercepted. The mere falls from the warrior's hand and both it and the warrior fall into the grasp of Tangaroa, the blood being washed from both.

Walking The Land

This poem was written after the February 22, 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, Aotearoa. The main actor in the poem is Ruaomoko, the god of earthquakes and volcanic fire. In the poem he walks across the land but he never leaves – the tremors and aftershocks still occur. He leaves the door open.

The Archaeologist and the Developer Discuss an Old Document

Maori artefacts and evidence of occupation are often uncovered during development of housing subdivisions in prime locations. In his archives the archaeologist has found a map of an area being excavated and developed. He describes the locations of various sites and their importance to the tribe. He ensures that the developer understands protocol and manaakitanga by respecting any objects uncovered by the blade of a bulldozer.

Little Black Number

This is a lighthearted poem about a poetry reading that is compared to the atmosphere of a fashion catwalk. Here – just as in fashion – the best poets strut their stuff! Just like a fashion designer they have worked hard enough to deserve that recognition.

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