Sunday, 30 June 2013

Retreat to the magic land

There is magic land                                     

That only I have found                        

I’ll show it to you                                            


Come away with me dear                           

Let’s go past the meadow green               

To the narrow bridge                                   


Yes, it’s but a lane                                        

But watch out for fallen rocks                      

We have far to go                                         


Round this narrow bend                              

Nature is calling us here                              

For birds are singing


Can you see the sea?                                 

We will cross to the island               

In that little boat                                             


I must take the oars

Sit, lest it be unstable

though the sea is calm


We will see wild things

Beasts that swim and crawl and fly

But no, not wild bears


Here there are penguins

Seals, cormorants and a tern

Now to welcome us


It’s my magic land

It’s yours too if you promise

Keep it safe always

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Insight in Australia

“Ah, Old Egg we have been recommended to speak with you about a large painting we would like to illustrate the development of Australia since its discovery in 1770. A sort of abstract painting that could grace the gallery we have here in this brand new building. Would you be interested?

“An abstract painting, Are you sure that is what you want?

“Yes, yes, we need it for a backdrop for official functions and dinners where guests can glance at it and be reminded of our progress but in a way that is not too hard edged if you know what I mean?”

“Well my paintings tell a story but sometimes you have to look quite hard to see their meaning.”

“Yes, yes, that is just what we want, a painting by an artist with insight. Would you be interested?”

“Of course if the price is right.”

“We can come to an amicable agreement. I am sure.”


Three months later at the viewing

“So pleased you have come to speak to us about your painting, Old Egg. It’s big isn’t it?”

“Australia is a very large country.”

“Yes, of course, of course. There is a lot of blue in it.”

“We are surrounded by sea.”

“Silly me, I had forgotten. What are those black bits?”

“That recognises the first people, the aborigines.”

“Good, that is important, but what are those red bits?”

“That is us trying to eradicate them, but it is a symbol only as there are no guns or prisons as it was done mainly by neglect.”

“Hmm. However I like the fish in the blue.”

“Yes, do you see how they are swimming away from the factory ships that are harvesting everything, seals, little penguins, albatrosses and just there the coral of the Great Barrier reef is being damaged.”

“Well don’t let’s worry about the sea…hang on what are all those people doing in the water at the top of the picture?”

“That shows our current immigration policy where the most desperate new arrivals are treated like criminals for wanting a better life and to be safe here.”

“I’ll just say they are swimming off the beach which is such a fun thing to do.”

“No, they are drowning.”

“Tell me about the green and black bits and the birds above them.”

“That is where we are destroying our old growth native eucalypt forests and replacing them with northern hemisphere pines and other species which mature very quickly. The birds are looking for a home as we have chopped down their old ones.”

“What about the red bits?”

“That recognises our mining industry that makes so much money, so that we don’t need to manufacture anything but we buy sub standard products from developing countries instead, not that our unemployed can afford them.”

“I was hoping to see our huge river systems illustrated in the painting but for the life of me I can’t see it.”

No, I left it out as we only have one major river system in the whole of the continent and because we use all the water in it for crops like rice that were never intended to be grown in an arid region the river doesn’t flow out to the sea anymore. So I excluded it as it is valued so little.”

“Old Egg, I really don’t think you have painted what we wanted to see.”

“Surely you are mistaken I even have your representations just here.”

“What there? I thought they were little fat children playing a game.”

“Nearly right! They are the financiers and business men and politicians all in a circle counting their ill gotten gains with their backs to the rest of Australia.”

“I’m sorry Old Egg, the picture you painted is just too big to fit in the place provided.”

“I thought it might be.”

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Ahuahu is no matchmaker (No. 101)

A story of Ahu and Ahuahu and their family in a Maori village in Aotearoa during European settlement of New Zealand. (Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts)

The funeral of Hoku's father Ruaimoko, took place and the whole village of Gannet Island together with many people from Rocky Outcrop who had walked down in the early morning to say their farewells. Ahuahu addressed the people gathered at the burial grounds and gave an oration. Mahuika and Hoku sang their laments and many tears were shed. Tiemi stood back from the crowd but Houhia kept her eyes him all the time.

The following day Hoku's baby Aotahi was welcomed into her pori and there was much rejoicing as Aotea her husband was very popular as Ahuahu’s representative there. A number of the village people from Rocky Outcrop were also invited to stay for the celebrations and a hangi was held in the evening although Hoku soon took Aotahi back to their whare to feed her and get her off to sleep. Although Hatiti and Houhia also were there Tangaroa and Horowai and Hekehoru and Tui stayed at Black Sands.

During the evening Ahuahu noticed Haeata sitting with the other women so he beckoned to her to approach him. She came over and knelt by his side.

“As Ruaimoko died the day we came I have not been able to talk to anyone about you. Ahuahu then turned to Aotea. “Haeata here is now a widow and has no one to look after her. Her parents no longer live here but as she wishes to stay here. We should help her.”

Aotea smiled at his father and whispered in his ear. ”There is an unmarried man at Black Sands Tangaroa’s age who has not married. Why don’t you talk to Kamaka your old friend about his son Paikea?”

Ahuahu nodded and turned back to Haeata “We have another idea. I will discuss your need to be looked after at Black Sands. You will not be left to fend for yourself. Until you hear from me speak to Aotea if you need anything.”

Haeata looked at Aotea and he nodded to her and said. “It is best that you speak to Hoku, Haeata. Woman’s’ talk is best, especially at this time now she has a new baby.”

On the journey back to Black Sands Ahu asked Ahuahu about his conversation with Haeata. She shook her head “Do not mention this Ahuahu. Let Hatiti talk to her brother Paikea. We must not arrange her family’s marriages. Our task is to test Tiemi. Houhia is too much in love with him to judge wisely.”

So Hatiti went to see Hoata, Kamaka’s wife the following day. Hoata who was Kamaka’s second wife who he had married after Hatiti and Hinewai’s mother had died. She had given him a son Paikea who was about the same age as Tangaroa. He still lived at home and fished with his father as Kamaka was getting old and needed help. Paikea had many meetings with the local girls but he never asked any to be his wife. He knew he would have to look after his mother Hoata when Kamaka died and had not found a possible wife that made him want to tell Hoata about.

When Hatiti mentioned the young widow who was childless at Gannet Island to Hoata, Hoata nodded and asked Hatiti if she knew about her. Hatiti nodded “Horowai, told me that Haeata asked Tangaroa if she could be his wife when she fled with her parents from Big River all those years ago. She had lost her promised husband in the fighting there with the pakeha so her parents promised Haeata to an old widower at Gannet Island so that they could all live there in safety. The widower is now dead, her parents have moved on, so she has no one to look after her and she has no children.”

Hoata nodded and asked what Tangaroa thought of her. Hatiti smiled “Tangaroa is a good husband to Horowai, he told her everything. He even told Horowai that Haeata was a beautiful woman and would be wasted and unhappy with the old man. Yet according to Aotea she was not unfaithful to him.” Hatiti thought for a little while then added, “Tangaroa said she used to fish with her father and that she was a strong woman. Surely Paikea would like that,” she added with a smile.

Hoata thought about it and then said “I wonder if he would like a young widow? How could he meet her? More importantly," she said laughing how can I meet her?”

Hatiti and Hoata talked for some time planning and plotting, then when Kamaka and Paikea returned from fishing Hatiti greeted them warmly and said “We have talked enough, Ahu will wonder where I have been,” and bade them farewell.

Later Haeata was invited to come down to Black Sands to stay with Ahu’s family. She came and was introduced to Paikea by Hatiti. Paikea took her fishing and before long they were living together and Haeata was pregnant with a broad smile on her face.

Pori  - Family

Hangi - Feast

Whare - House 

Gutter politics

My, it was foolish

To listen to that speaker

On and on he went


Talking such garbage

That it was imperative

We should vote for him


I could not stand it

And roared my noisy protest

So much for me then


I was dragged outside

So my feet had no traction

On that sad spring day


I know now those stars

Seem so bright from the gutter

When true ideals fade

Sunday, 23 June 2013

The forest of your mind

I follow the tracks

In the forest of your mind

To seek some answers


Those pale languid lies

A mess of contradictions

To still my fears


Love is so complex

It pushes me to the edge

You, a class alone


So fill my balloon

With your gas of desire

And file me away


One day I shall leave 

But there will be not a trace

Of me in your heart

Saturday, 22 June 2013

A Vintage Cheese

                                    Beautiful Bugatti found on PreWarCar site           

I am like a vintage cheese

For I am crumbling at the knees

Sad to say there’s more to tell

For there is an abominable smell


Once I was natty like a Bugatti

Now I am wobbly and somewhat tatty

Sad to say there’s more to tell

My mechanical parts don't work too well


Compare me to a Louis 15th Clock

But now I fear that dreadful knock

Sad to say that's not all to tell

I'm just waiting to toll the bell

Wednesday, 19 June 2013


Once I was agile

But now my flaccid body

Is but a phantom

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Ruaimoko leaves his memories behind (No. 100)

A story of Ahu and Ahuahu and their family in a Maori village in Aotearoa during European settlement of New Zealand. (Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts) 

When Ahuahu and Tiemi reached Aotea’s whare instead of happiness there was sadness and wailing for Ruaimoko; for Hoku’s father had died in the night. His body was laid out on the floor in the adjacent dwelling where Mahuika his wife was alternately laying down beside him or then kneeling and rocking to and fro in her grief and crying out for the gods to take care of him as he looked for them. She had already cut her face and her tears rolled through the blood and streaked her chin and dripped down onto her garment. Other women were there with her singing a song of mourning as Ahuahu went in and kneeled by the body and took Ruaimoko’s hand and laid his head against it. He spoke a few words to him rubbed noses with him for the last time then turned and hugged Mahuika to him and rubbed noses with her and with his fingers smoothed her hair back from her face. She looked at him and nodded and said “Ahuahu he loved no man more than you. He gave your son his precious daughter, and he has left you his memories. Carry them with you and do not lose them. They are our story”. She then let him go and Ahuahu left the whare and returned to Aotea and Hoku.

Meanwhile Tiemi was embarrassed that he was there at this time. He turned to Houhia and said “It might be best if I left you as I may not be welcome at this time.”

Houhia shook her head “Tiemi, you should stay for if you left now it would show you are not worthy to be my husband as you did not support my family in their grief. If you want to marry me you must start to think like a Maori. If I marry you then perhaps I may have to think like a pakeha too.”

“You will marry me then, Houhia?”

“We should not talk of it at this time Tiemi. Relax, what is happening here is part of our way of life. What you hear and see is my life, it tells you what and who I am. It tells you that you will be part of if my father agrees that we should be married. Today you will see both death and new life so you are lucky as you will have no doubt what each event means to us. One day you may even see a wedding ceremony too, ours, if you are considered suitable.”

Tiemi looked doubtful as though he no longer was in control of his actions. Houhia touched him on his arm “Now come and meet Ahu, Hoku and the new baby.”

Houhia called out for Hoku before she entered and asked if she could bring in a visitor. Ahu came out and saw Tiemi there and nodded doubtfully at him. Houhia glanced at Tiemi and nodded twice at him and he went forward and rubbed noses with her and said “Tena Koe” a little awkwardly to her.

“Haere Mai” responded Ahu. “You are visiting us again. Do you want to take away more than plants this time, Tiemi?”

Tiemi blushed, so Ahu smiled. “Come and see Hoku and Aotea’s baby. It is a little girl whose name is Aotaki.”

Tiemi followed Ahu into the other room and Hoku had already placed the baby in a sling around her back so that the constant movement of her mother would reassure her that not much had changed since she was in the womb. Hoku was busy sorting things out and she looked up in surprise that Tiemi a pakeha who she had not seen before was in her home. She sat down on the floor and waited for Ahu to say something.

Ahu announced that this was Tiemi the pakeha botanist who had come to talk to Ahuahu again. Tiemi carefully approached from the side and knelt down before her.

“Forgive me for coming today and I am saddened to learn of the death of your father, but joyful that you have given Aotea a child and that your father knew he had another grandchild before he died. I hope he will be content now with his gods.”

Hoku nodded in reply.

Tiemi then whispered to Houhia as he sat back down again. Houhia touched his arm lightly and came forward and told Hoku “Tiemi is learning about us and he apologises if he says our words incorrectly. I will try to make him more like a Maori but he is still a little scared of us.”

Hoku then said to Tiemi “We will bury my father Ruaimoko on the third day after his death in accordance with tradition. I will be with him tomorrow to allow Mahuika to rest a little while as he must not be left alone at any time. I have much to say to him. Then when we have said goodbye we will welcome Aotahi into our ngare the day after. I am trying not to cry for if I do the baby will know it. She must know how much she is wanted and what joy she brought my father before he died.

Ahuahu then touched Tiemi on the shoulder and beckoned him to go outside with him. So Tiemi thanked Hoku for welcoming him in her home and left the whare with Ahuahu. When they were alone Ahuahu said “Let us go for a walk on the beach and talk.”

“Ahuahu, I have been much honoured today. Thank you for making me so welcome and showing me what being a member of your family is like.” Tiemi then paused then said slowly “You have shown me that you could accept me into your family, your Pori. What is it can I do for you in return?”

Ahuahu smiled “Convince your people that this land we live on must not be stolen from us. Ruaimoko knew he would die soon so he came here from Rocky Outcrop where the pakeha are already digging the ground outside that village. He did this trusting this land of ours between Gannet Island and Black Sands would always remain in our hands so he would be buried with his people for ever.”

Slowly Tiemi saw the light. “So even if Houhia agrees to marry me you will not give your permission unless my people, the pakeha agree they will not take this land from you.”

Ahuahu nodded. “How much is Houhia worth to you Tiemi? Will you walk away from her when even I can see she has chosen you?”

For two more days Ruaimoko always had someone with him by night and day. He had much to listen to before he was finally buried. Even Tiemi sat there for an hour and spoke to him with Houhia by his side. When they left the whare Houhia held his hand.

Tena Koe - Hello

Ngare - Family

Pori - Clan 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

The Fairy Ring

Last Wednesday I wrote a little fairy fantasy see:
A walk in the woods

This piece just follows on:



I woke with a start

The room was filled with moonshine

I remembered her


I must see her again

So I went back to that wood

But not in the daytime


I crept out from home

My teeth chattering with cold

I’d lost all my senses


First through the village

Then cut across a meadow

Through the dark tress


There in the clearing

Lit only by borrowed glow worms

From a nearby cave


Were a dancing troop

Of small laughing and giggling

Fairies who stopped at once


When they saw me there

One who knew me stepped up

Bowed and smiled at me


So I then sat down

Putting finger to my lips

They resumed their dance


What a crazy night

Where my senses were filled

More than anything


But as the moon sank

There was a shattering cry

That split the night air


Only a fox but

The fairies scooped up their wares

And fled from the ring


I trudged home alone

Unloaded my weary body

On my tinselly bed


I remembered her

The fairy that welcomed me

She’d blown me a kiss

Friday, 14 June 2013

My favorite meal

Now that I live by myself one of my favourite meals occurs every Wednesday. I visit my younger daughter and her young family to spend the evening with them. When I arrive the children are at home from school and I get involved with their homework either by listening to one of them read a set book or helping with spelling. This activity does not come without a cuddle or chat about Mine-craft on the computer or even a discussion on whether the pet chickens have laid eggs or been chasing the smaller ones around the run.   

I also get involved with the preparation for the evening meal of putting my oar in by choosing a wine or carving the meat and am almost as pleased as the children when my son in law returns home from work so he can discuss his day with us all and ask how each of us has coped with our own.

While we all encourage to the children eat everything on their plates we discuss the day’s events and laugh at life and love each other.

Then we all clean the table and the children know they have to get ready for bed. I will stay sitting waiting patiently until I too am called to say goodnight to the little ones. To receive my hugs and kisses from the granddaughter and then to listen my grandson read a few pages of his latest Tin Tin adventure or talk of his last game of football.

When they finally let me go I return the couch and chat, play a game of cards or watch the TV with a hot drink, content that all is well with the world and I am truly part of the family.

Later as I drive back home in the dark I can feel my wife cuddle close to me. She says not a word for she has been dead almost three years. She loved all her children and her grandchildren and she is content that even now we still have this bond doing what she loved to do as well.


Wednesday, 12 June 2013

A walk in the woods

What a delight it is to walk alone in the woodland, to hear the chirrup of birds as they warn of my passing and the shuffle of rodents not far from my feet but unseen.

Oh to breathe the clean air scented with nature’s balm, first woody and now musky as the secrets of life being lived remind me I am not alone.

The sky is almost lost above me by the swaying treetops as they catch the breeze and I spy a moss covered log that invites me to rest and I sit and close my eyes.

My ears now do the observing as they listen to nature in its fecundity whisper and chatter around me and now I am so still, I hear the chuckle and bubble of a stream.

Almost like a song of contentment it sings to me of a love of life, of a woodland sprite dancing inside a ring of toadstools who skips in and out of the water’s edge unaware, splashing, laughing and loving her life.

My eyes are now open wide, but holding my breath there she is; she is real. She must not hear me as she sings or see me notice her pretty toes and her turned up nose, skipping unharmed through the serrated nettles leaves.

I must breathe, but I don’t want her to leave, so as silently as I can I take a breath and as I do she falters and senses evil nearby and looks for cover then spies me there sitting still.

Trapped she stands her ground and stares back at me. I nod hoping she will not be scared and put my finger to my lips and shake my head as if to say I will not tell of seeing her.

But she too shakes her head slowly and backs off into a group of nettles which sway with her passing and then she looks up and smiles back at me as she disappears with her tiny finger on her lips as well.

I am left alone but the birds are still singing, the trees are still swaying and the stream is still tinkling or is that her as she watches and laughs at me now in secret?

Haeata makes an appearance (No. 99)

A story of Ahu and Ahuahu and their family in a Maori village in Aotearoa during European settlement of New Zealand. (Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts)

The sun was shining again when Ahuahu, Houhia and Tiemi set out to walk up to Gannet Island together to see Hoku and Aotea’s new baby. Ahu had gone up the previous day and Tiemi was clearly uncomfortable that after admitting he wanted to marry Houhia to Ahuahu he was no longer in control of the situation. Ahuahu was obviously observing him and everything he did to determine whether he could permit Houhia to marry him if she wanted to.

Houhia also was nervous, she had almost given up the dream that Tiemi would return to Black Sands to ask her to marry him just as Hinewai had suggested he might do. But she wondered whether if this was the real reason that he was here again. They had not had a chance to speak to each other alone and he had not yet asked to do this.

After they had been walking some time she could not stand the suspense any longer and said to him “Why have you come back to us Tiemi, surely you do not need more plants to collect?”

Tiemi took a deep breath and then said “Do you want me to speak to you in pakeha talk or in your language?”

A tiny smile came across Houhia’s face as she slowly said, “My English is not good.  We would need Hinewai to be with us.”

A look of horror crossed his face and her smile broadened. “We will stay close to Ahuahu, so he knows what we are saying to each other. If you speak too softly he will ask what you have said. So speak up then he knows you are not saying secret things.” When she said that she looked into his eyes and he knew then that she loved him.

“I have asked Ahuahu if you could be my wife.”

Houhia’s heart skipped a beat. Tiemi had somehow done the right thing and asked her father first before he had approached her. So this was why Tiemi was with them so that Ahu should know as well and be able to discuss it with Ahuahu.

“Have you offered my father anything for me?” She asked.

Tiemi bit his lip. “I haven’t got round to that. I don’t really know what I should do. Is it not enough that you will be a wife of a Pakeha, an Englishman?”

“So I am not worth much to you then?” She teased.

Tiemi started to falter, he had not discussed this with anyone and now he was unsure of the protocol. Before he could say anything Houhia continued.

“My father will want to know where we will live. If you want to live here will you be a fisherman too? Or will you just count the trees in the woods while I do all the work? Will you build a whare for me and all our children? Perhaps you will take me away and put me in a pakeha house in a pakeha town away from my family and go and talk to other Maori girls in other parts of Aotearoa while you look at their trees and insects?” She paused then said “No, I do not think Ahuahu would like that.”

Tiemi was almost in tears “But I love you, Houhia.”

“I know you do, Tiemi I can see it in your eyes. But loving is not enough. Over the next few days let us work out how this could happen to see if it is possible. Look, we have nearly reached Gannet Island, this was the quick way. We did not show you this way before.”

Ahuahu rejoined them and said “You hands are empty Tiemi. Have you not learned anything new about our land today?”

Before he had a chance to answer, they had approached the first houses in the village so Houhia ran off ahead to find Ahu and Aotea.

Ahuahu then continued, “She is a very strong young woman isn’t she, Tiemi? Before we meet the others let us have a little talk by ourselves.”

After their talk Ahuahu noticed a woman picking some fish off a village fish drying rack. He went up to her and said, “We have met before some years ago. Are you not Haeata?”

The woman nodded, “Yes, I have seen you before too. You are Tangaroa’s father and head man. I have lived here with my husband since my father was allowed to stay here after the Big River village was destroyed all those years ago.”

Ahuahu thought for a little “Yes, I remember now. Tangaroa told me that your family were allowed to stay here if you married a widower. How is it that I have not seen you here before?”

“We lived at Fern Gully until it was decided that it would be safer if we all lived at Gannet Island in one village. My husband has now died so I am on my own again.” Haeata had noticed Tiemi standing behind Ahuahu. “So you have a pakeha murderer with you. I can kill him for you since his kind ruined my life all those years ago. It would give me great pleasure. My life is finished because of them so I have nothing to lose.”

“Haeata, we are all being slowly squeezed to death by the pakeha. We must finally make peace with them if we are to survive. The killing must stop.”

“You are head man Ahuahu; so you find me a young husband to make my life worth while so that I can have children for our people. But who would want me as a widow now? There were two young men that I could have married before I was traded away by my father; both have been snatched away from me.”

“I will think about this Haeata. Do not despair and don't kill any pakeha...especially this one,” he said with a smile nodding at Tiemi.

With that Ahuahu rejoined Tiemi and they walked on to Aotea’s whare by the beach.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Waterfall

The scent of gum trees

And a kookaburra’s call

Led us from our park


A fast stream spilling

Over stepping stones into

Shimmering dark pools


Where blue fairy wrens

Asserted their status but

Not daring to rest


From this sylvan scene

Came a warning of thunder

Yet the sky was clear


As in a books page

We cross a stone bridge and turn

To see a waterfall


Water Jets spewing

Spilling over the cliff face

Uncurbed for eons


Voices were silent

As we couldn’t speak to tell

Of our great delight

Friday, 7 June 2013

It was a grey day

I wait for the tram

Look at the threatening clouds

Raincoat in my case


I swipe my ticket

Find a seat by the window

Stare at the grey day


She got on stop nine

Tall, dark with hair in chignon

Classic high cheeked face


She looked at no-one

But she knew I looked at her

I read the paper


Then the sky darkened

As did her beautiful face

With her turned up nose


We reached the city

The rain poured down in torrents

At Town Hall she rose


Then I caught her eyes

And gave her my newspaper

She took it grinning


Now smiling in the rain

Unfinished crossword in that

Paper on her head