Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Love on the Beach

Mark and Marina the Mermaid (Part 2)

I bet you thought I would go back to that beach the next day to meet my mermaid didn’t you? Yes, you were right, but she wasn’t there. You talk to someone who is so different and attractive for a few minutes, arrange another meet, but they disappoint you and stand you up. Now you will say that she can’t stand as she is a mermaid so perhaps I’ll have to say she gives you the flip of her tail instead.

I stayed there most of the morning. Luckily I took some refreshments, a thermos of coffee, an iced fruit bun and an apple. They were all gone by eleven in the morning and I got fed up just walking up and down the beach and wading in the rock pools feeling sorry for myself. I am glad I was on my own as I started to talk to the others occupants of the beach, the seagulls, a pied oystercatcher, and an assortment of crabs and to illustrate my anxiety I was even daft enough to stick my head under the water and call out a bubbly “Where are you Marina?”

Did I have it bad!

I was feeling peckish again so started to walk back through the shallows to return to the shack again. I was just making my way round the jutting out cliff that separated her beach from the main strand when I heard the cry “maaark, maaark!” repeated. It wasn’t her, only a gull circling overhead. Probably a false clue but it was enough for me to reconsider, so I retraced my steps and found my way back to the rock where I had first seen her.

Yes, she was there, just sitting at the edge of the sand with her tail in the water, splashing about; picking up a crab or two and talking to them.

I guessed what she was saying even though I couldn’t hear her. It was almost certainly “Where is Mark, have you seen him?”

As each crab waved a ‘no’ or opened up their claws to indicate bewilderment she put them back down on the sand again to let them scamper off.

I ran up to her “I’m going to kiss you.”

“I know you are.”

“You’re all red around your tummy. Have you grazed yourself?”

She looked down, covered it with her hand and now her face blushed too. “You are not supposed to mention that.”


She paused then said “It is a sign I feel sexy.”

I knelt down beside her and kissed her. “Good.” I said.

“You got the message then.”

I nodded in reply. “You got held up did you?”

“Oh you know the tide, oil in the water, bills to pay… Is time important to you?”

“No, you are important to me. You make me feel different, warmer, caring, and all that sort of thing. So I started to worry when you didn’t show…what do you mean bills to pay?”

She laughed grabbed me by the neck and pulled me to her and kissed me in return. “I can feel you loving me,” she said; then went on, “The bills to pay were the pelicans just up the coast a bit.” Marina waved her hand northwards, “I just thought it would be fun to talk to them and feed them a few fish.”

I nodded as though I understood. I was just going to say “Why can’t they catch their own …” When she turned to me reading my mind, “Of course they can catch their own but if I am kind to them one day they will be kind to me in return. It is like your diplomacy, living together in harmony. I help them, they help me. Don’t you get it?”

“Why should birds, fish or crustaceans help you if you have just eaten their brother?”

Marina raised her eyebrows in disbelief. “In our world we all help each other even to the extent of accepting that we eat each other for survival.” She paused, thought a little, and then said. “You eat your pet chicken’s eggs; their babies. You go all soppy and cuddle baby animals, yet eat veal and lamb and so on.”

She smiled at me, reached out and touched my face. “Are you hungry now? Let’s go and get some food.” She rolled over and started pulling me into the sea.

“I am not a strong swimmer.”

“Poof!” she seemed to say as she sat in front of me and pulled my clothes off me and threw them up on the sand. I could see her eying me up and down.

“Our men have pouches for all that stuff” she laughed.

“Like dolphins?”

“Mmm, a bit.” She was biting her lip to stop herself from laughing again.

“Am I that bad?”

She shook her head, “Have you got a bag?” I had to think what she meant but realised it was for our lunch so I went back to my pile of clothes and extracted a plastic bag. She started to look very sallow and said, “We can’t take that in the water.” She looked around her and pointed to another pool a bit further away. “Go and gather up some of the seaweed in there. You must never bring plastic bags into the sea. So I sheepishly gathered up the strands of seagrass strands from the adjacent pool and gave them to her. She took the bundle from me and deftly started weaving the strands together to form a rudimentary shopping bag. She turned it round a number of times to check it was to her satisfaction then wove in a thread of seaweed to act as a drawstring then handed it to me, nodding at it with satisfaction.  She then pulled me into the water as if I were a naughty child. Even swimming with one arm dragging me along, she quickly found the deeper part.

“Big breath,” she said; then pulled me by the hand down under the surface. On reaching the bottom she let go of me making sure I held on to a rock, she then started gathering shellfish and brought them back to me to put in the bag making sure the opening of the bag was upside-down. She also gathered some frilly seaweed and popped in a couple of slow moving fish that ventured too close. I was just about to burst for want of air so I let go of the rock; she nodded at me and pushed me up at the same time. I took in an almighty deep breath as I hit the surface and sighed with relief, still gasping.

Marina took the bag from me, so I could swim back to shore and followed on behind. As I emerged from the water, I checked to see if anyone else was on the beach before flopping down naked by my belongings. Marina just sat in the shallows checking her catch letting the seawater run out but not allowing anything to escape. “I will have to put my bathers back on.” I said.


“I am not supposed take all my clothes off on the beach.”

“But we are by ourselves, there is nobody else and that silver gull up there will tell us if anyone comes” she said, pointing to a small gull apparently patrolling overhead.

“So he’s another friend?”

“It’s a she. She lost her right foot a few months ago and I fixed it; so she owes me.”

As Marina shared out the shell fish, the seaweed and one fish each, I wished I was part of her world. Everything seemed so easy, sensible, beautiful, exciting and right. I really loved her. “You can touch me in a minute,” she said reading my mind and prised open a cockle with her fingers then popped it into her mouth while I struggled with mine. Later as I stroked her body and kissed it I noticed that her back was much darker than her front; this phenomenon even extending down to her tail. Then it twigged that she was more difficult to see in the water from above and the same from below this way, just like the dolphins. It was a defence mechanism.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Fear my dear is clear
It is when you lose all hope
Decisions not near

But hope is that dream
When concerns are now banished
Strength of mind takes over

And for each problem
There must be a solution
Just look, it is there

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Hinewai and Horowai (No. 70)

The continuing story of Ahu and Ahuahu her husband in a Maori village in Aotearoa before European settlement of New Zealand. (Missed an episode? Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts.)

Although Horowai had been to the village where the Kakas call before she had never been there alone. Not that she went there by herself but travelled up there with Hinewai after one of Hinewai’s visits to Black Sands that were becoming more frequent now that she had been forgiven for her behaviour many years ago.

She knew that Hinewai had been rescued from her first abusive husband and ran away from her second one only to be reunited with him many years later. However she had not talked to Hinewai as woman to woman. All Hatiti had told her was that Hinewai had been hurt many times in her life and only now was settling down even though she was old enough to be Horowai’s mother. But most interesting of all was that knew the pakeha or white men and had lived with them. She hoped she would find out more about them.

As the two women walked up to the forest Hinewai spoke to Horowai. “So you told your mother too much about Tangaroa and yourself?”

“Not too much, just that I couldn’t wait”

Hinewai laughed. “Do you tell each other everything?”

Horowai looked perplexed. “Nobody has secrets in our family. “

Hinewai laughed outright. “Everyone has secrets, even you.”

Horowai shook her head doubtfully. Did she have secrets? She had hopes and dreams and she wanted Tangaroa so much to part of her but they were not secrets. Suddenly her face coloured up and immediately Hinewai could see that she had thought of something.

“See, you do have a secret, don’t you? But it is OK; I have enough secrets of my own.”

“Are they all about your hurt?”

“Some are yes; some are what I have learned since I left Black Sands. Your father, sorry, I mean Ahuahu; is very wise. When he looks at me I will tell him anything as he can be trusted.”

“I think of Ahuahu as my father too,” replied Horowai. “He loves both Hatiti and Ahu very much. I wouldn’t want Tangaroa to have another wife. I would be too jealous.”

“I loved Ahuahu once; well I wanted him to touch me when I was younger, which is the same thing when you are growing up…to be admired and fondled. But I touched him first and he was very cross, I got beaten by my father Kamaka for doing it. Did not Hatiti tell you?”

Horowai shook her head, “I only know of your first marriage and…” Here Horowai paused and then went on carefully, “You lost your baby as you were hurt and your father brought you back home and you married Kaihutu instead…but then you both went away.”

“We were banished because I was not satisfied with Kaihutu so I tried out all the other boys my own age instead.” Hinewai laughed.

Horowai was silent. But then she looked shyly up at Hinewai, “What was that like?”

“Good…at the time. It made me feel strong after being made weak by my first husband. Listen, can you hear the Kakas calling? We are nearly there.”

Horowai nodded, “We will talk more won’t we?”

“Won’t Hatiti be worried that I will lead you astray?”

“Hatiti loves you; she wants you to come back to Black Sands.”

“I know she does. One day perhaps. Kaihutu feels responsible for me as he married me…but he sleeps with Moana’s mother not me. Even though I am his wife, I am number two now, which is how I like it.”

“Why is that?”

"My time with the Pakeha has upset him more than playing with the young men all those years ago. So now I have a home and I look after Haeata’s children and cook and think a lot without men pestering me."

“What do you think about the Pakeha, Hinewai? They frighten me.”

“I have seen too much. I cry for our people. I have not been a good person but I am a proud Maori and I will always fight for them.”

“How can you do that Hinewai?”

“Before we enter the village, let us sit down.” They sat in the shade of the trees and Hinewai opened her woven bag that contained her personal things. She drew out a little pistol, “Do you know what that is Horowai?”

Horowai looked at the small weapon. “Is it a gun?”

“I stole it from the Pakeha. It is called a Derringer, suitable for a woman and for them to hide in case she needs it to protect herself. There, I have shared a secret with you.”

“You are not going to use it on the pakeha are you?”

“Well I am not going to use it on our own people, am I?”

“Aren’t you risking that I will tell someone?”

“You won’t tell because you want to tell me your secret, don’t you?”

Horowai loved being able to talk to Hinewai this way and now she would now have time to talk to her personally about all manner of things before her wedding that she could not with her mother. She took hold of Hinewai’s hand and put it up to her face and said “I am glad we have time together before the wedding."

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

My mermaid and me

(Mark and Marina the mermaid part 1)

Loneliness is a strange companion. After many years of marriage I find I am drawn back to do those very same things my wife and I did when we were married. It is as though if I go to a concert or to the cinema she is with me and though I don’t talk out aloud, I am able to get her opinion on the film or the piece of music sotto voce as it were. It is sometimes embarrassing if the seat by my side is occupied and I start mumbling. I think I did that once unknowingly and the person by my side thought that another seat a little further away would suit her better.

So I spend my days on my own going for coffee in the same places we used to, even taking day trips to the coast where we had spent some happy holidays long ago.

Gradually I ventured a bit further afield. I rented a little holiday shack 200 kilometres or so from home close to a magic beach the two of us had found so many years ago. It was nearly always deserted as it was quickly cut off by the tide and those caught in the bay had better be prepared to wade through the rocky pools of uncertain depth or wait for a few hours until the tide called back by the moon bade the sand goodbye with a sloppy kiss.

So after a breakfast of muesli and some toasted raisin bread in my little beach shack, tidied up and neatly made my bed, I donned my Crocs and wandered down the beach for a walk. I avoided the popular beach of course, crowded now with at least five or six people labouring away in exercise before starting their working day and made my way under the cliffs into the cove of distant memory. It hadn’t changed.

Fish, crustaceans and the scavenging gulls screeching were my companions although they in the main ignored me as I waded through the rock pools and nodded at the inhabitants who surly at first tended to ignore me and went about their business. The distant voices from the main beach were stilled and I became at one with the ocean as it teased the shore with its gentle rhythm.

I continued to look down through the water to observe the weeds waving and the fish darting and the crustaceans crawling and could believe that humans loved the sea so much because their forebears so many billions of years ago had crawled their way to shore and found that survival there was possible after all.

I looked up and to my surprise I had wandered some distance from shore so I headed back to the beach to have a little reminisce of the last time I had been here with my wife.

There were some large rocks on the beach just where the water was lapping and I headed for those. As I approached I could see that the beach was not deserted as I had hoped but a girl with next to nothing on was sitting on one of the large rocks. I moaned inwardly and as I approached I looked up to see if I could avoid her. She wasn’t looking my way so I tried to skirt around the side of the rock.

“Don’t come any closer” she said.

“I am sorry. I didn’t see you at first. I am heading for the shore.”

I tried not to look at her thinking that she was skinny dipping.

“I am stuck” she said simply.

“Do you want me to help you down? I said, still averting my face.

“I am waiting for the tide to come in.”

“But isn’t it easier to get down when the tide is out?”

“No, I haven’t got legs like you.”

That was all I needed a disabled girl, abandoned on my beach with no clothes on.

“It’s alright I will help you down.”

“No you won’t human. I will wait for the tide. Now leave me alone.”

Human did she say?  Was she disabled and nutty too? I had to look at her.

As I glanced up and looked at her I found a very beautiful but angry girl pouting at me with her tail dangling over the rock.

“What? Haven’t you seen a mermaid before?”

I shook my head slowly and looked at her again. Her tail wasn’t scaly like a fish but smooth like a dolphin’s. I didn’t count her fingers but I don’t think she had five. Her hair if you could call it that was coarse almost like strands of seagrass. She kept blinking her eyes which I gathered was because she was frightened they would dry out and her breasts were just tiny mounds on her body.

“Finished looking?”

“Let me get you down, you are probably worried about drying out aren’t you?”

She started to look at me differently. Said nothing but just nodded. I reached up for her. She hesitated then resigned to her fate putting her arms out and held me round the neck while I grasped what should have been her bottom and lifted her down. I walked back into the sea and found a large rock pool to sit her in.

She immediately sighed in relief and dunked herself completely in the water.

“Can you breathe both in and out the water?”

“Questions, questions?” she responded

“Why are you so angry with me?”

“I am not angry with you, I am pleased with you. I am angry with myself for making a mistake and being at risk.”

“You’re not going back to sea straight away are you?”

She shook her head, “There are a few sharks out there at the moment.”

I looked puzzled “How can you tell”

“The sea is like one great big communication device for those that can interpret other creature’s languages. We can do this, which is why I can speak to you and to the shellfish and crabs in the pool here. It’s really is a jungle telegraph as you call it. So there are sharks off shore at the moment, OK?”

“What is your name? And how do you know that expression jungle telegraph?”

“Boy, do you need to learn telepathy. I can read your mind that’s why. Under the sea we don’t ask questions all the time, there is no need. That is why I know you are safe to be with, your wife is dead, you think I am beautiful, and that you think I have small breasts.”

I laughed and nodded in agreement. “All what you said is true, but how about my name?”

“Not sure. I am going to call you Shark because I was frightened of you at first.”

“That’s close, it’s Mark not Shark. Then I will call you Marina unless you have another name?”

“I do, but you humans couldn’t pronounce it, so Marina is fine.”

Marina stuck her head under the sea again and a few seconds later popped up again. “I’m off now, the sharks have gone. See you tomorrow?”

With that she swam off. I don’t know whether she saw me nod, but it didn’t matter she could read my mind couldn’t she?

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Hatiti and Horowai talk (No. 69)

The continuing story of Ahu and Ahuahu her husband in a Maori village in Aotearoa before European settlement of New Zealand. (Missed an episode? Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts.) 
“Hatiti, may we talk?” Horowai said as she sat next to her mother on the shore having found a spot to rest out of the wind that blew in from the sea.

“Of course, my precious daughter.” Hatiti replied as she touched Horowai’s face with her hand.

“I cannot wait.” Horowai said simply.

“The wedding is soon my precious” Hatiti replied. She knew what Horowai meant; she wanted Tangaroa to possess her now before the marriage. “Even though you are not Ahuahu’s daughter you are still regarded as a puhi and inviolate. You must be perfect and untouched when you marry Tangaroa.”

“Hatiti, Tangaroa and I have been playing together for years he knows me already. Since I could walk it has always been his hand that I held. We know each other. There is no part of me he has not touched.”

“But he has not…?” began Hatiti.

Horowai shook her head, and smiled a tiny smile as she hugged her mother “Not quite.”

Hatiti was silent for while as the sound of the surf on the sloping black sand beach beat its steady rhythm. Hatiti looked at her daughter and felt like crying at how beautiful she was. It seems as though in but a few shorts weeks she had gone from being a child and now she was a woman. A strong brave determined woman that she loved so much that she wanted dearly to say that it did not matter, no one would notice…but on the other hand some might guess; it had to look right. Their plans for the wedding would have to be upgraded.

“Horowai it must be seen that you are a woman of high rank. I will arrange for you to visit your aunt Hinewai and you will stay with her at the village where the Kakas call until the wedding.”

Horowai started to protest and wept with sadness that she would be parted from Tangaroa for a week or two. Hatiti wrapped her arms around Horowai and they rocked each other both hugging and crying at the same time.

“It will be a test for both of us” said Hatiti, “When you are married, you will start a new life away from me. It is a time all mothers dread; to see part of them taken away. But I am so glad it is Tangaroa who will look after you. I have seen how he touches you; just like Ahuahu touches me. The short wait will be worth while my dearest one.”

With tears streaming down her face, Horowai nodded. “I know that it is the right thing to do but I also wanted you to know how much he is to me he has always been there for me and he always will.”

 “I have never doubted that, Horowai. The gods saw our pain and sadness many years ago when your father Kaihutu died and our happiness now is them rewarding us.”

They were still hugging each other quietly when Ahu found them on the beach.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Danger of Springtime

Ever since Adam
We have been on a snake watch
Be calm, this is wrong

It’s Springtime again
It’s not the rattle and hiss
But Eve and her kiss

Know that danger lurks
In her looks, scent, smiles, eyes, lips
The hazards lie there

So watch out boys then
For the wiggle of her ass
Let the asp go free

Note: It's Springtime in Australia and the warmer weather is exciting the inhabitants

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Horowai at Hot Springs (No 68)

The continuing story of Ahu and Ahuahu her husband in a Maori village in Aotearoa before European settlement of New Zealand. (Missed an episode? Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts.)

Hatiti’s former mother-in-law sent a message to her to ask if she and Horowai could visit her first husband Kaihutu’s father, who was sick. For some time after her first husband died Hatiti found it difficult to revisit her in-laws at the hot springs even though they were only a few minutes walk away from Black Sands village. For her it was a world apart from the happiness she had found with Ahu and Ahuahu. But as the years passed she and Ahu started to go there again so little Horowai could understand that she had a connection with the steamy place where people went to bathe and relax. Often there was dancing there and visitors would come to bathe in the pools to help ease their aches and cure all manner of complaints. It was a good way too to find out what was going on in their world as people from villages far away would go there. In this way Black Sands and their hot pools were perhaps a reason that great respect was made to the community as a whole and why some might say that adjoining villages left them alone as they provided a service to a far greater area and were never a threat to their neighbours.

Horowai knew now that she and Tangaroa would be married, probably next year and she asked Hatiti if they should tell these relatives too.

“You are Kaihutu’s daughter, Horowai, his family is your family, when we visit tell them you are promised to Tangaroa and we will ask if the wedding might be held in their meeting house there to honour your father.”

Horowai nodded uncertainly and looked at Hatiti sadly. “I have only known one family of you and Ahu and Ahuahu and my brothers and sisters. I love Tangaroa dearly and I feel that he has always been part of my life but of my father’s family I know so little, only that they do look on me and speak to me with affection when we meet. When I see them I try to imagine my father and compare them with what you have told me about him but I am ashamed to admit that they are but strangers compared with all that binds me with my true home.”

Hatiti hugged Horowai. “You will find the right words when you speak to your father’s parents. Your love is like the sunshine and warms everyone.”

The following day Horowai, Hatiti and Tangaroa visited the springs early in the day and spoke to her father Kaihutu’s parents.

“Tangaroa has asked Horowai to marry him”, announced Hatiti. “Ahuahu and Ahu have agreed subject to your approval too.” Kaihutu’s mother nodded and spoke quietly “It is no secret, we have many visitors here and for a few weeks there seems to much talk of the young couple.”

Kaihutu’s father nodded his head smiling. “Tangaroa has already got a name for his ability at fishing so no one is surprised that he has caught our granddaughter.”

“Grandfather, I should like the ceremony to be held here in the meeting house in honour of my father, if that pleases you?” said Horowai.

Kaihutu’s mother came to Horowai and hugged her and held her face in her hands. “Should not Hatiti have asked us child? Do you speak for yourself?”

“Shh! Woman.” Interjected the grandfather, it should have been Tangaroa that asked.”

Tangaroa looked bewildered; he glanced at Hatiti for help to sort the problem out. Meanwhile Hatiti was laughing.

“Do not worry children, they are joking with you. Did you not think that everyone in Black Sands has been waiting for this event? They are teasing you.”

“But we only decided the other day,” protested Tangaroa.

“Yes, but the whole village decided long ago,” responded Hatiti. “The love you showed for each other was not a secret.”

The old man continued “Of course you may have the wedding ceremony here and it would please us both if you permit us to provide you with your home here too. There is an empty whare that is most suitable for a head man’s son and his wife. I have not let anyone else have it. It will be our wedding present to you.” He then continued “This way we will be the first to see our first great grandchild. I am determined to live for that day.”

Horowai went over to him and knelt in front of old man. “Will you make me happy and give me to Tangaroa on our wedding day, papa?”

He touched her on the face and with tears in his eyes he mumbled “Of course my child. It will be a very happy day for me too…for all of us.”

They spent some time at the hot springs and inspected their promised whare that Tangaroa loved because from the entrance he could just see the sea. When they were walking back home, Hatiti said to Horowai, “You made your grandfather very happy today, did you realise you called him father?”

“Yes I did, didn’t I?” replied Horowai, “It just popped out and seemed the right thing to say as he is part of me too and he made me laugh.”

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Joy of Being

It rained overnight
Instead of dampening thoughts
They are lifted anew

So off for brisk walk
No feeling miserable
And smile as you go

No matter how old
You are reborn in springtime
Cracking life’s shell

Smell the promise now
As our story is retold
And here to enjoy

Now you are at one
With the world not detached
The joy in being

See, laugh and savour
Nature’s rich fecundity
Wonder in today

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Pakeha get established (No. 67)

The continuing story of Ahu and Ahuahu her husband in a Maori village in Aotearoa before European settlement of New Zealand. (Missed an episode? Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts.)

As Ahuahu first predicted the pakeha did not seem interested in the Black Sands village. They established themselves at the Big River estuary and were clearly intending to stay as they built houses for themselves. They built their fires for cooking inside their dwellings with bricks made from clay and those villagers brave enough to spy on the pakeha’s settlement could see smoke coming from the roofs of their dwellings hoping they were on fire.

Slowly the pakeha visited the neighbouring Maori villages, wanting to trade their trinkets and tools for fresh fish, vegetables and fruit.

Ahuahu was now head man and following the death of the former chief he invited Hinewai to help him speak to the pakeha when they came as she knew the language having lived with them for some time. Her husband Torangi would not accompany her saying that he would kill any pakeha he saw knowing how she had been used by them. She agreed to come but she would not stay for more than a day or two at a time; staying sometimes with Hatiti and sometimes with her father Kamaka and his second wife Hoata.

It was not long before the pakeha exploring the area came upon the settlement at Black Sands. At first they were curious as to the trade they could do. After the first two or three visits an arrangement was made for a more important man to visit the village accompanied by a guard of several pakeha with weapons. Ahuahu asked the visitor to enter the meeting house with his supporters if he wished to talk but that the men with weapons were to stay outside.

This was agreed to and they sat on the floor facing Ahuahu who had Hinewai just behind him and other members of the village council in the room as well. After the formal welcome Ahuahu said, “You have come far from over the sea to make a camp at Big River. What is the reason you have come here to our village?” Then Hinewai translated this.

“We come in peace and have come to create a port for our ships at the river’s mouth. We will trade with you if you have produce to barter until we can establish our own crops. We think this is a fine land to farm to produce food and to graze our animals.”

Ahuahu nodded after the translation then responded. “We are not like other villages. We fish and we grow our crops of course but here we have special responsibilities to the wider community.” He paused for Hinewai to translate for the man in uniform and then continued.

“Here we provide a special service for our people and those from villages far away.” Here Ahuahu indicated with his hands to the north, the east and to the south. “We have hot springs here that have a religious significance that can be enjoyed by ourselves and our neighbours to achieve good health. We are the custodians of these springs and welcome all who wish to visit and follow our traditions.”

The pakeha chief nodded at the translation as Ahuahu continued; “None but ceremonial weapons are permitted in our territory. It is a sanctuary and a place of peace. All our adjoining neighbours have agreed to the boundaries of our land which extends from the sea to the foothills of the mountains where the ngerengere settlement is which we also care for. There is a marker to the north and there is also one to the south. To the west from these markers to the smoking mountains is our territory.” Once again he paused to let Hinewai translate then after a nod from her that she had finished he wound up with this statement.

“We are at peace with our Maori brothers; we wish to be at peace with you too. It is under these conditions that you will be welcome here.”

The pakeha chief in uniform turned to his aides and spoke with them. Then he turned back to Ahuahu.

“What do you mean by saying that this place is of religious significance?”

Ahuahu took in the translation and replied, “The land, the sea and the sky are all sacred to the Maori people. This place is especially so for us as the gods of the earth show that they are close by. They have given us the springs for healing and we have the responsibility to care for them.”

At this, the pakeha chief turned and indicated to another of his party to join him. The man was dressed all in black with a robe unlike the others of his party who were either in uniform or wore loose fitting shirts and leggings.

Their heads were bent over in discussion and after they had spoken the pakeha leader looked up and said that the man he was speaking to was their holy man who could speak some Maori language and would like to address the people.

Ahuahu looked directly at the pakeha chief and said “Your holy man may speak with me and my people when I invite him. I will send a message to the Big River settlement when I wish him to talk with us. But for the moment would you like to visit the Hot Springs with some of your party?”

The pakeha chief seemed a little bemused by the rebuff to the black robed priest moderated by the complete turnaround in the welcome to visit the rest of the village. So he too was put in a difficult situation. Eventually he agreed that he and his aides would visit the springs while the rest of his party could remain in the main village.

Ahuahu instructed his people to provide refreshment for the visitors while he accompanied the pakeha chief to the springs. As they approached the pools the white men reached into the sleeves of their tunics to cover their noses with small cloths to mask the smell. They were escorted around the pools and warned of the hot ones and were shown the bathing pools where a few children were playing with their parents. Ahuahu introduced Kaihutu’s father who was Hatiti’s former father-in-law to the pakeha and got Hinewai to explain that this man’s family were the traditional custodians and guardians of the springs that maintained them and were entitled to the gifts received from the visitors. Finally they were escorted into the great meeting hall there and were invited to sit and receive a formal greeting. Ahuahu nodded to Kaihutu’s father who ceremoniously rubbed noses with pakeha chief and his supporters telling them that they were welcome and hoped they would return. All the while Hinewai translated as the white man spoke to Ahuahu. Eventually the Pakeha chief indicated that they should leave and Ahuahu escorted him and his party back to the main village where they exchanged gifts.

Soon after that the visitors decided to return to Big River. When they were gone Ahuahu said. “Hinewai, come and sit with me. Now tell me what else did you hear the other pakeha say?”

“They couldn’t quite make you out,” she said. “They were shocked that you rebuffed their holy man as though he was not important, yet you showed great respect to their chief by agreeing to send the man later.”

“His aides kept telling him that you were peaceable and careful not to offend them, but you were clearly protective of the traditional way of life here, and what you told them of the Black Sands country confirmed what our neighbours had already told them.” Here Hinewai paused. She chose her words carefully, “Although you rebuffed their holy man and did it with dignity so as not to hurt his feelings he was very annoyed. He was clearly expecting to get his own way. He uttered words like godless savages and worshippers of the devil.”

Ahuahu thanked Hinewai and said. “I fear that some will want to change the way we live. They do not look like visitors but conquerors but it is not the ones with weapons that are the most dangerous. You can look at a man with a weapon in his hand with respect, but the man in black would never respect our way of life. These men will never retreat.” He then went on, “Hinewai your life has been filled with sadness; you have been really hurt, misunderstood and abused. For all that when you were able to tell me what the white men were saying, I was so proud of you. You have turned what you have learned in your travels to great use and from it given us an understanding of the pakeha. You are now welcome to live here in Black Sands again.”

With that Hatiti entered and walked up to Hinewai and hugged her and rubbed noses. “Come and see Horowai and Rauora” and taking by her the hand pulled her away as Hinewai looked back at Ahuahu nodding her thanks.  

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Bring them home

Young brave soldiers they
Who stand there with dignity
They are fighting for us

Ripe they are, so young
Ready to adventure far
For life, love and war

Pain, death, grief and loss
Lacerated now in death's beauty
Our brave sons now gone

So bring them home now
They are teachers and farmers
Lovers and parents