Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Tiemi returns (No. 106)

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)

It was some weeks before Tiemi returned to Black Sands but when he did he was driving a horse and cart which was loaded up with tools and equipment. Many of the children and a number of adults rushed out to see him and to look at the horse that they had heard of before but few had seen up close. It was not a soldiers or gentleman’s horse for riding but a sturdy beast for working.

He left the horse and the wagon tied to a tree with a nose bag filled with hay and went in to see Ahuahu. Ahuahu smiled at him “So you have finally made up your mind. We will now have to see if Houhia has changed hers.”

Tiemi looked crestfallen. He knew he had been away some time but he had to find out whether by marrying Houhia the land could be bequeathed by her to any children they had or if the law of the British settlers would override the Maori custom of ownership by women. He hoped that she had not been talked out of marrying him. However Ahuahu was smiling.

“I need to speak to you Ahuahu. The situation with our people is a bit complex. Perhaps it might be best for me to unharness the horse and then and provide shelter for him and then we can sit and discuss this.”

The cart was moved to the back of Ahuahu’s whare and for most of the rest of the day an enclosure was made for the horse with fodder and water to prevent it from wandering off. When they had finished with the help of Rauora and Houhia they went inside the whare to sit down and eat.

After the meal Ahuahu said to Tiemi. “Do you wish to speak to Houhia first so that she understands why you have come back here?”

“Does she not want me anymore?”

“Go, show her the horse, she may not like it or you.”

Finally he understood that he was to ask her to marry him formally even though he had already asked Ahuahu and had an understanding with Houhia. So he glanced at Houhia and suggested they go for a walk together.

“Do not go far.” Ahu called out and Houhia turned and nodded at her mother.

When they had walked a little way and approached the horse munching at his feed Houhia asked him. “Do you wish to talk to me?”

Tiemi was puzzled. “I want to marry you, Houhia.”

“Have you asked Ahuahu?”

“You know I have.”

“I cannot be a pakeha wife, Tiemi. I want to live here.”

“That is why I have brought the horse and implements and some building material. Did not Ahuahu tell you?”

“Is that a present for my family in exchange for me?”

“No, I am to farm the land adjoining the pakeha road between Big River and Auckland. Surely you have been told this.”

“Tiemi, you must tell me. Tell me where we will live, what whare I will live in. You must tell me if you want me dress like a pakeha and turn me into one of them.”

“If you want to wear pakeha clothes you may wear them, but not if you do not want to do so.”

“Hinewai has told me that pakeha men kiss a woman’s lips. We do not do this. How can I sing to you if you cover my mouth? I cannot tell you where you should touch me if my lips cannot open,” she teased shyly.

“There is so much for me to learn,” moaned Tiemi.

“There is much for both of us to learn. Tell me about the horse. It is very smelly isn’t it?”

“We will keep it some distance from our house… I mean our whare. We can build a shelter for it to sleep in at night and have a paddock for it to run around in during the day when it is not working.” Tiemi paused then asked “How may I touch you then Houhia.”

She reached up and rubbed noses with him. “This is a hongi, a greeting of friendship between us and all our relatives and friends. It is polite to do this with visiting guests so they may feel welcome.”

“How else may I touch you?”

Houhia smiled shyly, “When we are married you can touch me anywhere but Hinewai has told me pakeha men think too much of women’s breasts. They are important for the children we have but not necessarily for making love.”

Tiemi coloured up and Houhia squealed with laughter and said, “Rauora said you had a red face, you have one now.”

“Why are you willing to marry me Houhia when there are so many differences between us?”

“We have the same interest in the plants and the land, you are gentle but determined. I could see the love in your eyes for me despite the differences between us right from the moment we first met. I know you want to wrap me up in your arms and will protect me from any danger.”

Tiemi reached over and touched her face tenderly stroked her hair and fondled her ears. She touched his face in return and said “We can tell each other what we like and perhaps one day you may even kiss my lips…if you rub my body with oil.”

Tiemi knew then that she definitely was the wife for him as he couldn’t imagine a girl from England saying those words with her eyes looking directly at him.

Later discussing the land he was to rent he told Ahuahu that he had been advised to not to exchange money but to rent the land from Ahuahu at a peppercorn each year. 

"What is that?" asked Ahuahu.

"Nothing." Tiemi replied. "The land is in your ownership and because Houhia will be my wife I give you nothing but share the produce with you and my extended family on the understanding that the land becomes Houhia's when you die. It is written on this piece of paper." 

"How do I know this is what is agreed?"

"We will get Hinewai to witness the paper and explain the words to you so that you can make your mark to agree the lease."

Ahuahu nodded then said "We will walk around the bounds of my land so there is no mistaking it for land that is not mine."

"A government official will survey the land that will be leased using the markers on the road" replied Tiemi.  

Ahuahu nodded, praying to the gods that they would not be cheated.



Who is the Jackass now?

What better way was there to rupture the fabric of time than to send the uncouth white fellas, the dregs of the prisons from Britain to the pristine environment of Australia over two hundred years ago. There in that unspoilt land countless tribes of aboriginal people had lived for 40,000 years or more in splendid isolation. There too were the countless tongues spoken by each tribe mirroring the babble of Babel predicted in the Bible.

These diverse inhabitants had nurtured the desert land and co-existed with nature keeping their laws and trading tentatively with each other even to the extent of stealing a wife or youth or two to ensure inbreeding did not occur with their strict laws to prevent a too close a bloodline with their own kind.

The early European settlers did not fare well and could not see how to survive in this paradise and were nearly wiped out by their ignorance and the Jackass laughed at their foolishness. It was not until wealth was found in this white man’s hell did the vast expanse of the new continent become an attraction to the greedy and they have remained. What profit a man to gain the whole world and to lose his life?”

No country has been so cruelly raped as Australia. Ancient forests lost, countless species of fauna lost, and the balance of the seas inhabitants lost. Meanwhile we still try to find ways to keep the original inhabitants in prison just for being. 


And the Jackass keeps calling, “And who is the jackass now?


Photo courtesy -

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Our last date

Do you remember all those years ago when we first met? We were both so shy and I had scarce enough courage to walk up to you one morning to ask you out on a date

It was not long ago I revisited that country town and stood in that same spot for the last time where we conversed in the very beginning arranging a date, looking at each other, me suggesting a Jazz club, you preferring to go ballroom dancing.

To and fro we tried to agree where we should go. All the time I looked into your eyes and you into mine.

We were both rooted to the spot and now late for work neither had the strength to part or stop observing the other. I wanted to kiss your nose and later you told me you liked that I was tall and this alone seemed sufficient that we should spend the rest of our lives together.

So we decided to go to a movie in your home town (So then we could later walk back to your home alone in the dark).

Much has changed in this town but nothing has eroded that memory. Today the weather is overcast and the rain will fall as will my tears.

Tomorrow I will take your ashes and place them in your favourite place where I shall walk through the trees and the thick vegetation with the insects buzzing and crows calling overhead, to that secret lake where you had taken me to so many years before and told me that was where you wanted to lay down and rest forever for you were happiest there.

I woke to the sun shining at the break of the following day and made my promised journey with all the cells in my body weeping for you as we went on our last date together.


Friday, 26 July 2013

Would I love you less?

Would I love you less

If there wasn’t a caress

When I came back home?


Would we ever part?

To break each others heart

To leave me alone


When I was sleeping

Which of us would be weeping

When I found you’d left?


Your cheeks like petals

But your mind was as metal

So now you have gone


Winter is so cold

And I will not be consoled

You’re lost for ever

Would I love you less

If there wasn’t a caress

When I came back home?


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Unlikely words from a doctor

“How can I apologise enough for my dereliction in duty, in prescribing the incorrect medication for you over the last few years?” 


Don’t expect to hear that!


The best I got was from a well liked doctor who said to me, “I think there was something in the Hippocratic Oath about not doing the patient any harm. Shall we try this one instead?!”

Ahuahu makes a deal (No. 105)

                                                                         Ahuahu's land

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)

Whilst Rauora and Hakeke were beginning their liaison  Ahuahu was occupied contemplating the possibility that the pakeha might suddenly demand land or access to the sea from the road that led from Big River to Auckland in the north.

The land at Black Sands and Gannet Island had been passed down to the families that had always lived there or had taken it by force. Neither Ahuahu nor Ahu had rights to the land to say that it belonged to them it belonged to other families. Unlike European cultures at that time, women could own land in their own right and Hoku was now the owner of the land at Gannet Island and Fern Gully. Hoku’s father Ruaimoko had taken possession of the land when Rocky Outcrop had won the battle for that village. His other children inherited the land at Rocky Outcrop. However the traditional village of Gannet Island became Hoku’s when Ruaimoko died. Ahu was very happy about this as Hoku, Aotea’s wife now owned land she had lived on when she was growing up and where she had met Ahuahu and it would belong to Aotea’s children.

But the traditional owner of the land at Black Sands was old Ikaroa, custodian of the hot springs. He had promised he would leave the whole of Black Sands to Horowai his only grandchild and her husband Tangaroa. The land where the old ngerengere leper settlement was now in the pakeha church’s hands. It was separated from Black Sands by the road that led from Big River inland past both Black Sands and Gannet Island and formed the boundary of these two settlements…almost. When the road was built a large area of land opposite the entrance to the Ngerengere land was not used and no longer in traditional ownership. Much of it was light woodland as it sloped up to the forested hills. Ahuahu thought a lot about this land as it formed a buffer between the road and access to Black Sands as well as to Gannet Island.

Ahuahu went to see Ikaroa. The old man was nearly blind and was very weak but he recognised Ahuahu’s voice and welcomed him into his whare. “Sit, sit down with me Ahuahu. What do you wish to talk about?”

“Do you remember all those years ago when we were disputing with the men from Rocky Outcrop who had overwhelmed Gannet Island and were eyeing our land as well?” Ahuahu asked.

“But of course.” Ikaroa replied. “I kept silent then as I knew too much. How I laughed when you frightened them off by claiming responsibility for the Ngerengrere. We never had talks with Big River but we gained there as well with those black marker stones being found that none could dispute.” Here Ikaroa laughed and said “How glad I was that Tangaroa married Horowai. They deserve to own this land when I die.”

Ahuahu nodded in agreement, “Way back then, we said that our land stretched as far as the foothills to smoky mountain. That is not important now as the pakeha have built a road and claimed the land to the west so that they can cut down the forest there. The Ngerengere land is theirs too but my concern is the land between the road and our land here; just who does that belong to?”

“You Ahuahu!  Aren’t you are the one that claimed much more that we ever owned. Who will dispute us…dead men? I know where my boundary ends. No one disputed the land belonged to our village then, therefore that land belongs to you or whoever you decide. You have done so much for this village you deserve it.”

Ikaroa though for bit then said. ”What do you want to do with it?”

“You may not like this, Ikaroa. But I may leave it to Houhia, if she gets married to the pakeha Tiemi…and I think she will. I want her to own it so that he can farm it like a pakeha farmer. It will form a buffer between the road and the two villages of Gannet Island and Black Sands. Who will attempt to take our land if there appears to be a pakeha owner here already?”

Ikaroa laughed “Oh, I like that Ahuahu. Do you not think that I am always worrying that when I die the pakeha will take our precious land away?”

As Ikaroa thought about he asked “When will they get married?”

“He hasn’t dared to ask her yet as I think he feels we will want him to live here.”

“But you want him to do that, don’t you?”

Ahuahu laughed, “Of course, he looks at her like she is something very precious. But to get her he has to fight for her and understand how much our land means to us.” They continued talking for some time until Ikaroa said “I must rest now.”

A few days later Ahuahu suggested Tiemi walk with him up to the pakeha road.

“You know all about plants Tiemi. Tell me about this land,” Ahuahu pointed up and down the road on the side that ran down to the sea.  “What would a pakeha farmer plant here?”

Tiemi got down on his haunches and examined the soil. Then he walked further away from the road and dug at it again, sniffed it and even tasted it, then spat it out. “How much rain do you get here?”

“Rain we always have,” was Ahuahu’s reply, "The stream here flows out to sea close to Gannet Island for most of the year.

Tiemi nodded, “If you grow a crop like wheat to make bread or oats or even vegetables you wouldn’t need much fencing. But if you keep animals that would feed off the grass that grows and other plants then you would need fencing and sheds to keep them on your land. In the winter, unless you kept sheep you would need to have shelters for them. Sheep would survive even if it snowed as their wool would keep them warm in the winter.”

Ahuahu nodded, “This is my land Tiemi; it could be Houhia’s one day. You cannot reach Black Sands or Gannet Island from this road except through this land unless you travel along the shoreline and over the cliff tops.” At this Tiemi nodded in understanding.

Ahuahu went on, “If you marry Houhia you could farm this land and would have the only access to our villages from the road. It matters not that you grow your wheat or your oats even fatten cattle or sheep.”

Tiemi gulped with the thought of farming land here.

“But remember Tiemi, Maori women own the land bequeathed to them not their husbands, therefore should I give it to Houhia it would hers and her children’s land. Dare you take this step and live here to ensure our villages are not taken over?”

“But this does not include the villages themselves Ahuahu?”

“Oh no Tiemi, the villages and the coastal land we look after belong to others not me. Only this land here is mine.”

Tiemi thought a little then asked, “But what of your other children, Ahuahu? Would they not want it?”

“Horowai, my son Tangaroa’s wife will be the traditional owner of Black Sands land when her grandfather Ikaroa dies. Hekehoru married Tui the son of the old chief before me. Believe me she is well provided for.”

“Hoku became owner of the land at Gannet Island when her father died. She has given the island itself to her husband Aotea and to Rauora my youngest child jointly and the rights to fish there. Only this land here is mine.” 

“I would have to give up my job and live here then to farm it.” ”Yes, I was hoping you would say that,” smiled Ahuahu. “But the land will still go to Houhia and her children.”

Tiemi gulped with nervousness. “When do you want to know my answer?”

“You will tell me if Houhia agrees to marry you. She knows I am talking to you today.”

“I will need to discuss this with the authorities in Auckland. But I think this will be permitted as there are already disputes over land occupied by our people when the Maori owners were unaware that they had sold the land according to our law. So I can rent it from you.”

Ahuahu nodded, “If Houhia marries you.”

“I will go to Auckland to advise the authorities that is my agreement with you.”



Sunday, 21 July 2013

Spring has turned to winter

Driven to despair

I’ve lost the key to your heart

What have I become?


Spring has turned to winter

There’s such longing in my mind

Laughter is now tears


Sadness you’re in charge

Brightest day is now night time

The wind blows so cold


Is there no room now

Can I repair the damage

And the slate be cleaned?


Or must I thank you?

That in those beautiful times

We meshed together

Friday, 19 July 2013

The Moonshine Man

I am the crazy man                                                   
Folk see me in the park                                           
And on the street corner
There’s a load on my back              
But there's none can see it                                      
As I sit on the bench                                     
Who will sit by my side?                                          
I am the crazy man                                                   

I have no sense they say
The little children stop
And then they stare at me
Or giggle nervously
"There is the moonshine man"
Because they think I have
A bottle in my bag
I have no sense they say

I have a chequered past
My body wanders by day
Like the chattering birds
I sleep now on that bench
My mind wanders by night
And often wake in fright
Watched by the hooting owl
I have a chequered past

I am the crazy man
For now I am alone
My clothes are soiled and worn
Just who knows what I am?
I have no wife or home
My child, he knows me not
Because of that bottle
I am the crazy man

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

My Andromeda

She looked at me without guile

The pretence was over

And we both knew it

And the sadness in her eyes

Made me want to hold her close

But those time were past

I thought I had saved her

From a ravening beast

But she like I was human

How many tears were shed

How many lies were told

Our assignments were now over

Our orbits were no longer in alignment

Our allotted time together was passed

She would hurtle off into space

There I would no longer be welcome

I would traverse the universe

A Perseus in desperate pursuit

In my search for another Andromeda

And the twinkle in her eye

Like the sparkle of a distant star

Would be all that was left for me.

Rauora and Hakeke (No. 104)


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 following day Rauora went to fetch Hakeke to take her fishing. She was already waiting for him.

“Haere mai Rauroa,” she smiled and then continued “Hunapo has got some bait for us”.

Rauora nodded at Hakeke and replied. “Good that will save us some time.” He then turned and waved to Moana and called for Hakeke to go with him as they set off down towards to the beach. She ran along alongside him and said “You are different today. What is the matter?”

“I have had Ahu, Hatiti as well as Houhia all telling me how to behave when I am with you. We should have gone in secret.” He was silent for a bit then said “When we get back then all the questioning will start again. I did not want it to be like this.”

Hakeke was silent for a bit then said. “Should we not take some water with us?”

“I have already put some in the boat.”

Hakeke nodded “I have brought some fruit to eat.” Then as an afterthought said “Why not tell them what they want to hear.”

Rauora looked at her beautiful face with her eyes fixed on him. What he saw made him relax so he nodded in agreement. They got to the canoe and he dragged it down into the water. Then he checked that both paddles, the net and the lines and the basket they would use were there and told her to get in and sit in the front and hold one of the paddles while he waded out pushing it into deeper water. He then got in himself and grabbed the other paddle. “Use the paddle on whichever side is most comfortable for you and I will steer the boat,” he said.

She did this and they moved forward slowly at first as they breasted the waves and then when they had crossed the breakers they rode the swell out into deeper water. Once they were some distance from the shore he called out “Stop paddling now, I will try to find a good spot to fish.” Occasionally glancing back to shore to get his bearings he manoeuvred the canoe around then stopped paddling. Holding both sides of the canoe he shouted out to her “Turn around and face me while I hold the canoe steady.”

“Hunapo did not need me to do this,” Hakeke said.

“He probably did not want to look at you when he was fishing.” Rauora said with a grin.

Hakeke blushed but did as he asked as he bent forward and pulled out his fishing lines with the bone hooks and deftly threaded some bait on before handing one to her. “Throw it as far out as possible so they do not have to come too close to the shadow of the canoe.” He watched as she did this a little awkwardly but it was far enough out to satisfy him so he then threw his own. He wedged it between his toes then prepared a net with some bait attached to throw over the other side of the canoe that might pick up any fish being pushed into it by the current.

“Did Hunapo tell you that the first fish caught is thrown back for the god Tangaroa? This is to thank him and ask for a good catch.”

“Of course Rauora, my father was a fisherman too at Gannet Island before he was killed in the fighting with Rocky Outcrop. When he died my mother Hauku took us from there to her own village were the Kaka calls. But I can hardly remember him now.”

“I did not know that. Perhaps you know more about fishing than me then?”

Hakeke laughed. “Do not tease me. I was only about five years old then and we had to walk all the way to the forest with my brothers. Moana was not with us as she had come here instead to stay with Ahuahu and Ahu.”

“I can see you and Moana are sisters, you look very much alike.”

“She is so much happier now she has Hunapo. Did you know Paikea her first husband never came to see our mother and us even after they were married. We always had to come here. But I do not remember you, Rauora. Nor you me I expect.”

“Who remembers other people’s children, Hakeke, especially girls who live in the dark woods?”

Hakeke poked he tongue out at him and pretended to slap him and then said “Should we not have caught some fish by now?”

Rauora pulled in his line and threw it further out and then told Hakeke to pull hers in slowly. Hers too was untouched. “Look after both lines I will paddle a little further out.

“But there are other boats out there Rauora, won’t they mind?”

“No, only I will mind. They will laugh and joke with me for having you in the boat. I wanted you all to myself.”

Suddenly Hakeke squealed “Wait, there is tug on one of the lines.”

“Let it pull again to really take hold then we will see what we have.” Rauora stopped paddling and retrieved the line she indicated and slowly played it in until it was alongside. When she saw it she announced “It is a kumukumu, look at its wings and big eyes.”

Rauora placed his hand in the water folded the fins back and extracted the hook and threw it back into the water. He nodded to Hakeke and automatically she sang out:

“Hold tight to your fish Tangaroa; Hold tight to us with your fearsome power, please feed us today and keep us safe at sea and on the land.

Rauora nodded his thanks too and knew already that Hakeke would make a fine wife. “Those fish are bottom feeders Hakeke, there will be more down there.”

The other fishermen who were watching them waved and they waved back. Rauora rebaited the hook and threw the line in again. Then he checked the net and pulled a couple of fish out, bagged them in a Hessian basket attached to the side of the canoe and lowered the net back into the water. When he turned Hakeke was looking at him he hoped she felt the same way about him. They stayed in that spot for well over two hours, talking, eating the fruit and pulling in the fish they caught. By the time the tide was about to turn they retrieved the lines for the last time, filled the woven basket and paddled slowly back to shore.

The breakers were higher when they reached the shore and Rauora told Hakeke to stay in the boat while he beached the canoe. The canoe sped up and landed up on the black sand as Rauora jumped out and waded alongside to hold the prow steady. He beckoned her forward and she also jumped out lightening the canoe so they both could drag it further up the beach. When they had got it above the high tide mark he turned to Hakeke and touched her for the first time, rubbing noses and hugging her.

“We still have more work to do Hakeke, but I have been waiting hours to do that.”

“Moana will know I want you by the look on my face. She sees everything.” Hakeke said.

“Good.” Rauora replied as Hakeke reached out and took his hand and her fingers played with his just as he hoped she would.

They finally stowed the canoe in the dunes and made their way back to Hunapo and Moana’s house to share the catch still holding hands.

Kumukumu - Gurnard

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Choosing a dog








What do I detect

Loving friends can be honest

What is my mistake?


I’m so sick of this

Come on let’s stick together

A second chance please


Please do not leave me

I’ve told you I want a lab

And you a poodle


So my compromise

Is for a Labradoodle

Can we make up now?


The rest is simple

Consciences are clear and

I note you’re smiling

Friday, 12 July 2013

Bones versus Twitter

Have you wondered why bones

May look like phones?

Is it that canines

Have communication signs?

We had a nod and a wink

While they had sniff and a twink

The cats have this habit

(Quite unlike a rabbit

Who twitches his nose for effect)

Of passing their kind with tails erect

The art we seem to have lost

Is of bones being tossed

In the air for our news

Instead we Twitter for other’s views