Found in Patearoa

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.

sandals for jasmin1

Found in Patearoa

 

2012

 

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?

 

2017

 

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.

A reply to Ava Seymour

 

ava-seymour-protoype-1

The Dunedin Public Art Gallery and the Hocken are currently holding a retrospective of Frances Hodgkins Fellows. The fellowship has been running since the 60s, it brings artist to Dunedin to for a year of full-time art-making. It’s a wonderful exhibition to visit.

One of the works in the retrospective is Ava Seymour’s 2001 Prototype #1 (pictured above).

It shows Central Otago rock formations, with giant bones overlaid. The accompanying blurb explains that Seymour “doesn’t associate that landscape with humans… more with dinosaurs.”

To me, Seymour’s work, like Graham Sydney’s seems to hide the long history and present reality of human activity in the area.

Below is an image I made in response, featuring some of what I associate with the Central Otago landscape.

reply-to-ava-seymour

Images sourced from: The Otago Daily Times Regions Section, Willian F. Heinz Bright Fine Gold, and my family’s personal collection.