Below is a poem I wrote. The poem grew from some experiences I had. From this poem grew a sculpture; a sort of replica of the sandals mentioned in the poem. The poem and sculpture are currently on display in North East Valley’s Art Tardis in Dunedin.
Found in Patearoa
After a night of drinking
in some 20 year old’s Oceania Gold-funded house
we woke up and drove
still a little smashed
Palmerston to Patearoa.
A relative of Tame was working there
something farm related
like lambing or fencing
I forget which.
I remember the house:
a lonely villa, peely paint in early settler tones
the interior décor Speights
and guns and gum boots
like a Grahame Sydney painting
except not, because it was lived in.
Tame and his brother (or cousin?) exchanged words
like mutual relief, to which I was a spectator
Aw the works alright but fuck
some people here never seen a Māori
I admit, their presence confused the picture
tourists have come to take
like the name Patearoa, one wonders why
isn’t this Anglo-Saxon?
After a Wednesday of driving
around Central Otago
in a University-funded rental
with two professors of geography
I woke up and cycled through February sun
from Buccleugh St to Toitū.
Hunched in the archive
crawling through indices
thick books with Gold Rush on their spines
Manorburn… Matthews… Millers Flat…
An 80’s pamphlet on moa hunting by a Norwegian archaeologist
tells of a time before the tussock
when moa walked in abundant bush
and 13th century Māori – the Waitaha people – followed.
Later, when the trees and moa had departed
and hukapapa settled across lonely rocks
16th century Māori, coast-dwellers from Puketeraki from Moeraki from Mapoutahi
came for the weka
weka which I have never seen
south of Marlborough camp-grounds.
Upon opening a heavy black book
with TAONGA proud across its front
I find floating in the dark
void of page seventy
a pair of 17th century harakeke sandals
the accompanying text:
Found in Patearoa.