Sunday, 28 April 2013

Going too far

They were persistent 

nay downright insistent 

that we come up with something 

resistant to all known disease.

I was merely an assistant 

Now alone at this instant 

As all else is non existent 

We must have gone too far. 

Now should I get out of this suit 

As I need to pee?

Bad Luck

March blowing

Farmers harrowing

Rare luck

Grubs fossicking

Saw mills closing

Schoolkids crying

Marrows failing

Oaths sworn

Borrowed money

Transparent Lies

Thin soup

Either way

Wednesday, 24 April 2013


I shuddered at such putrid prompt words for Three Word Wednesday to write in my blog when I crave for ones of love and kindness and hope. However let’s see what happens:


It was a rainy day, a muddy cold day and he was in a strange place, a foreign land, and his one wish, his craving was that he would get back safely to his family at home. It was wartime and the fighting had continued for long years and now his truck had broken down and he was on his own. They might find him if he stayed by the truck, but it might be the wrong they! As he pondered, exposed and scared he thought that sitting in a target was not a good idea. So he wandered over to a ruined building a short walk away to seek shelter.

He could keep an eye on the road from there and maybe get a little rest. There amid the tangle of debris and the creepers that made the most of the opportunity he pushed his way inside. He heard the faint sound of breathing and saw to his amazement two children squeezed up in the corner watching him. They shuddered with fear so he stood stock still, took out his water bottle and a reached out his arm offering it to them. They said not a word they were so frightened. So he loosened the cap and put it within their reach and stepped away a little and sat down on what was left of the floor. He leaned back and half closed his eyes in an attempt to relax.

After a few seconds the elder child leaned forward and stealthily reached out for the bottle, shook it and offered it to her young companion. In turn they gulped down the water and pushed the container back toward him. Their faces wore no smiles but their eyes said it all as they were the real victims of war; not the trained soldiers from both sides fighting on foreign soil but those children who would now be scarred for life.

He observed the building again and felt the first drops of rain fall in their shelter without shelter. So he got up and started to look for some protection. The children grew frightened and shook their heads as he lifted some of the debris away. His senses were knocked back by a stench so putrid that he had to cover his face and his eyes smarted. Clearly he had found the bodies of the children’s parents.

The elder child a girl looked at him fiercely and the younger one just cried. He tried to get them to go with him to another hideout away from the horror. They would not do this as this was their home and he was the enemy.


Today April 25th is Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand. It is a public holiday and is the most revered day in Australia’s calendar.  We remember the fallen from all sides in war.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Waking up in Samoa

I had hardly been asleep a few minutes or so I thought when I felt a nudge on my back. My wife whispered “Wake Up! There’s someone at the door”.

My eyes opened reluctantly, I glanced at my watch. It was 9 o’clock in the morning and we were in a hotel room. The gentle tap came again and so I wrapped myself up and went to the door and opened it. There smiling happily at me was a young Samoan girl all ready to clean the room. I apologised and explained we had only arrived a few hours ago at 5am in the morning after a night flight from Sydney. “Could you come back a little later?”

She nodded reluctantly as the girls clearly worked to a routine. We were visiting Western Samoa in the Pacific and having done some research had chosen to stay at “Aggie Grey’s Hotel” on the waterfront.

In the heady days of colonisation of little nations by the world’s powers the Samoan Island’s were disputed by Britain, Germany and the USA keeping their gun ships handy to stake their claim. In this case it was decided that Germany was to be lucky superpower and the two main islands Savaii and Upolu became their colony in 1899, while the United States took over the smaller islands and much of the Pacific Ocean waters in the vicinity. Robert Louis Stevenson the author of several adventure books lived there with his extended family until his death in 1889. Western Samoa finally gained it’s independence in 1962 after having New Zealand as its colonial master following WW1.

So now we were in this warm paradise of “South Pacific” fame staying in the timber framed hotel owned by the aging Aggie Grey who had made her money trading with the occupying allied forces during WW2. She now employed the young men and women from her home village in the hotel and who were also the fia fia dancers at the evening’s entertainment. We loved the place. At the swimming pool my wife found herself swimming with the film star Robert Morley. The walkways had bunches of bananas hanging down for the staff to eat as they worked (and also tempting the guests) and there was all invading tropical perfume of exotic flowers and coconut oil. Needless to say I was entranced by the shy smile of the girls plaiting flowers to decorate the bedrooms as they sat in the walkways speaking to each other with a sound like the gentle murmuring of the ocean.

We explored the capital Apia with it German colonial timbered building and sat quietly in the numerous churches but kept clear of the children who with machetes busily cut the lawns with skilful swipes.

It was humid and the first few days the walks were short with frequent rests and long drinks and a cool off in the pool. We explored the island on day trips and discovered waterfalls and swimming holes and exotic beaches and so many churches that were told were built with building material meant to mend the roads, which clearly never were.

Mind you it could have been the pigs that dug up the road. They wandered about freely and wherever they wanted eating whatever they could find.

The bus transport was mainly converted trucks with seats and no windows. It was too humid for that. These plied their way to villages collected the locals to take them to the market and to return later in the afternoon with all their purchases in huge baskets or even building materials tied to the roof or in the aisles so access was an adventure.

On one trip we boarded the crowded tourist bus last and I had to sit next to the driver with the pretty young guide wedged in beside me. She chatted about everything under the sun and told me her surname was Schmidt which clearly came from the German colonial era. As the bus rattled along her bare leg and mine frequently touched and at one time she looked at me and said you are browner that I am, proudly placing her arm against mine to prove it.

Later we took a trip to the larger but lesser populated island of Savaii and walked over the lava fields from an old volcano eruption and shown the “Virgin’s Grave” where a young girl died in a lava flow. Later we nodded thanks at a refreshment stop when the owner proudly showed us her husband's grave in the garden outside the back door as we made to leave.

On the short flight back to Apia’s airport only we were weighed not the luggage before we boarded the light plane as there are some very big people in Samoa! The flight was delayed a little as a mother and her young child boarded late to be taken to the hospital on the main island. As she nursed her child I held the bottle of saline drip attached to his arm while my wife sat next to the pilot up front.

Another night at the hotel the staff also performed in the Fia Fia nights entertaining guests with their seductive dancing and singing and the girl that had served me in the hotel shop earlier now danced enticingly before me. The lights were turned down and the men juggled with their flaming brands.

When we returned I said I really wanted to go again but my better half shook her head and said “Wake up, the first time is magical but it would never be the same again.” Yet even she had been entranced with one of the male dancers!

It is nearly thirty years since we went there and I still remember the eyes the girl that danced before me and who looked only at me.

The Struggle

I feel so spent now

Will this struggle never end

For a promised land?


How great is the shock

Where can we shelter ourselves

Against fiendish plans?


Let’s harden ourselves

Our resilience is great

We’ll survive and thrive


We’re not infidels

But let our love conquer them

Not bombs and hatred

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Alone again

A spring in my step

With a broad smile on my face

I went to meet her


The depth of her smile

Like the warm sun on my face

Would put me at ease


At our coffee shop

She was so late as usual

But I was relaxed


Always trusting her

I made a sugar pack heart

And waited for her


I looked at her eyes

And knew it was the last time

Could I endure it?


Now I was on the

The sad road to destruction

And alone again

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Tangaroa, Horowai and their first child (No. 93)

Ahu and Ahuahu’s eldest son Tangaroa had married Hatiti’s first child Horowai. She was the daughter of Hatiti’s first husband Kaihautu but he had died in an accident at the Hot Springs when Horowai was but a year old. Hatiti then widowed was allowed by Ahu to stay with her to help feed Hekehoru and then to become Ahuahu’s second wife. Ahu thought that she was ill and there would be no one to look after her children if she died. She knew Hatiti had always loved Ahuahu after he had saved her life after the tidal wave when she had been swept out to sea and was thought to be drowned. She had been rescued by Ahuahu; he had found her washed up in the trees some way from the village a day or two later. Hatiti had loved him from that day on.

Horowai and Tangaroa now lived at the Hot Springs in a whare provided by Kaihutu’s father who was overjoyed that his granddaughter should live close to them. His name was Ikaroa which meant the band of stars in the sky we call the Milky Way. He liked Tangaroa. Even though the young man had been brought up as a fisherman, he said he wanted Tangaroa to become the hereditary leader of their community after him to look after the Hot Springs and conduct the rituals and welcoming ceremonies there.

Tangaroa and Horowai had been brought up together and he had always been the one to look after her and protect her and she followed him everywhere and always thought they would eventually be married. Their first baby came quickly and it was not long before Horowai went down the women’s birthing site to deliver her child. Ikaroa was especially pleased when their first child, his great grandson was born. Ikaroa had become quite old and frail and could hardly walk or speak any more. The new born baby was placed carefully in his arms and Tangaroa said to him “Ikaroa, Horowai and I have come to ask if you approve that we call this child Kaihautu after Horowai’s father.

Ikaroa nodded, “But should he not be called Ahuahu after your father Tangaroa?”

Tangaroa shook his head, “Ahuahu has three sons and two daughters; there will be many boys for his name to be passed on to in the future. You had but one son, Kaihautu and he had but one child Horowai. Where will Horowai’s history go if we do not remember it now?” 

The old man looked down and shed a tear. “There must be a wind blowing the dust, I have something in my eyes. Do what you will Tangaroa. But yes, it does please me very much. Next time Horowai” he said glancing up at her and wiping his eyes, “Bring me a girl child for your grandmother.”

Tangaroa tried not to smile at the old man’s tears. He returned the baby to Horowai, grinned at her and in doing so rubbed noses too. She placed the baby at her breast and it immediately began to suck at her greedily. Everybody laughed when the old man said “Perhaps his name should have been Takapu, the gannet, for he really dives in for his food”.


For more Ahu stories click on Ahu in the labels bar

Sunday, 14 April 2013

When I was courting

When I was courting

We often used her front room

Just the two of us


There we might listen

To her classical music

And we would unwind


Amid sighs of joy

We’d listen to Ludwig’s ninth

And for other sounds


At the slightest noise

I would control my ardour

And switch from bold to cold


Skeptical sister

Would then burst through the threshold

Grin on her young face


Can I come in here?

It’s boring out there with them

I’ve drink and cookies


No sword defeated

A great battle plan so well

As that kid sister

Friday, 12 April 2013

The Apology

I’m sorry Mummy

I’ve put the cat in the trash

I can’t get him out


I’m so sorry Dad

Didn’t score a goal today

I will try harder


I’m sorry girly

I think we’ve ought to cool it

Perhaps later on


I’m sorry darling

T’was only the once, promise

Won’t happen again


I am so sorry

Yes, I could have done better

Well perhaps next time

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Her best friend

I raised the lantern                                    

To reveal her grieving face

Her eyes say it all


Gently I took her hand

Let her bask in memories

As I held her close


Now she was alone

Was it possible that we

Would still remain friends?


Later as she slept

I recalled all his and my


Sunday, 7 April 2013

I want to sing you a song

I want to sing you a song

A song of love, it’s not too long

Though I know you’ve gone

I want to activate the words

That you have surely heard

So many times before

They’ve become my mantra

A project to achieve

They are my song of love

They were your song too

That your lips sang

And the bells rang

As I urged you on

But now you’ve gone

We once merged as one

I close my eyes

I still search for you

To kiss your finger tips

To taste your lips

Delicious love

So now I rove

And surprise myself

As I seek your eyes

In that stellar band

As times sad sand runs

Bringing tears for me to smudge

But that is all

As the rest is clear

We are still in unity

Saturday, 6 April 2013

The winds of change (No. 92)

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

Tiemi the botanist who had come to record the plants that grew in the Black Sands area had come to the end of his work. He had been treated with respect but despite this Ahuahu’s family had made it clear to him how much the land meant to the Maori people. No matter what he said about the wonderful things the pakeha could do for them they were stubborn in their attachment to their traditional way of life. He knew that hundreds possibly thousands of new settlers would spread out through New Zealand as his people called their land over the next few years and it would change regardless of the Maori people whether they fought the intruders as many communities in the north island did or quietly tried to hang on to their own way of life as they did here at Black Springs. Ahuahu wondered whether his attitude had changed in the weeks he had been here and whether it was Houhia that was the cause. She was strong and outspoken unlike any woman or girl he had ever known even in his home country Britain. Even though he had clearly upset her and Hinewai he still looked at her with affection…and she knew that he did. After writing up his daily record for the last time he spoke to Ahuahu.

“My work here is finished, Ahuahu. I want to thank you for letting me visit you and to see your land. As we are alone may I talk to you in confidence?”

Ahuahu nodded but then said “What if there are words you speak that I do not understand would it not be best to have Hinewai or Houhia here to listen too?”

“Not Hinewai, she is too eager to use her dagger. Better it be Houhia as she will only cut me with her words which are sharper than any knife.”

Ahuahu laughed. “She is very proud and will fiercely defend our land, you are lucky her words are her weapons.”

Houhia was called in and she tried unsuccessfully not to look at Tiemi.

So Tiemi began to speak. “Ahuahu, each year there are hundreds of pakeha coming to your country to settle and to farm in their own way. Whether you do nothing or whether you fight like so many other villages do is not my concern. There will soon be more pakeha than Maori and they will govern the land. Our chiefs will be your chiefs our ways will become your ways. Already there are many Maori that work for us and many live in the settlements we have established. When I return and report on the land here and the plants and any crops that could be grown very few will be encouraged to come. The hot springs and the black sand beach and the poor soils will not attract settlers. My report that will be seen by the pakeha governor of the colony  who may well discourage settlement here and as far north as Gannet Island.”

“You have not mentioned Rocky Outcrop, Tiemi,” said both Houhia and Ahuahu together. Ahuahu then said “Our families are linked and we work together and share our land.”

“Some white men have already found gold there a few miles from the coast,” answered Tiemi.

“So what will happen to us then?”

“I expect you will be left alone as you are some way from the roadway north to the main city we have established at Auckland. Already the authorities know you are not aggressive to the white man”. He paused here to say with a smile “Except Hinewai perhaps. You will be allowed to continue your traditional way of life.”

At this “Houhia smiled and said “Thankyou Tiemi.”

“Please do not thank me, Houhia. What it will mean if you do not integrate is that you will be isolated and it will be hard for you to survive. For hundreds of years you have traded what you need to exist with other communities. These soon will be few and you will need pakeha money to buy goods or trade what you do have with us. Even your own people will want money before they give you what you want. The richness of your life will disappear as even your neighbours will want payment for the timber you need for building, or the agate for the jewellery, or the fruit you cannot grow here.” Tiemi paused. “Your fishing grounds feed you but it is not sufficient for your neighbours too. You are surrounded by the pakeha. Your young men will leave for the pakeha towns to earn money but they will spend it there and not bring it back home. One day perhaps things may change but there are hard times ahead for you if you want to retain your traditional way of life.”

Ahuahu nodded, “I hear you Tiemi. I thank you for being honest with us. I will discuss this with the village council.” He then turned to Houhia “Houhia, you will discuss this with no one, yet.”

Houhia nodded and tears formed in her eyes.

Tiemi then said, “I want to thank you for letting me stay here Ahuahu.” He then brought out a purse and placed it in front of Ahuahu. Here is some pakeha money that I offer to you for your hospitality to me. I am sure that Hinewai can explain what each piece is worth.”

He then turned to Houhia, “You will see many changes in your lifetime Houhia. Try to make use of them and do not fight everything we do. Remember one day when we are at peace you may even say that you have learnt from us too.”

Houhia kept her head bowed as he talked to her. She just whispered, “And if we ever need to speak to you, where can we find you?”

Tiemi took out a card with writing printed on it “This says, James Harcourt, Botanist on it. You will find me in Auckland.” He then turned to Ahuahu to say goodbye and bent down and rubbed noses with him then turned back to do the same with Houhia but she had already slipped out the room.

Houhia had gone to her sleeping quarters and lay down looking at the card whose writing she couldn’t understand and she cried. She cried more than she had when she had her tattoo done. She had lost something today that was very precious but she had found something too that she thought was hope. She didn’t know which one she really wanted or if they were both the same thing as they both hurt.


Authors note.

In 1840 when the treaty of Waitangi was signed by many chiefs to establish peace, most of the North Island of New Zealand was in Maori ownership. A few years later most of that land had been bartered, mistakenly sold or stolen from the original occupants by the pakeha settlers. I like to think that the small strip of land with the Black Sands settlement on and their hot springs was but a few that remained in Maori control along with Gannet Island. It was many decades before some of the stolen land was returned to their rightful Maori owner’s descendants.

At the early census to count both the pakeha and the Maori inhabitants plural marriages were frowned upon and such families were often ignored and not counted. Luckily Hatiti was told to say she was a widow with two children under the protection of the village chief. Ahu agreed that she would allow Hatiti to sleep with Ahuahu for a whole month for denying that he was her husband to the pakeha. As Ahuahu’s son Tangaroa had married Hatiti’s daughter Horowai many years ago the pakeha did not query the arrangement as they knew the Maori punished incestuous relationships.

This is the last chapter that will appear about the inhabitants of Black Sands as a regular serial. Occasional stories of their lives will appear at intervals if the prompt fits and provided they are still talking to me!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Domestic Bliss

We squint, we glare
Another day, another fight
Then we both lick our wounds before
We kiss