A Poem for Waitangi Day


From the Void, Te Kore, seven kinds of light:
first, glowworm glimmer; then pale gleams;
next, a dim aura; the stars grow fainter
as Papatūānuku separates from Ranginui;
pale beams follow; before summer's
bright clarity emerges;
and down in the gully we walk out into the sun,
crossing the creek as if time has just begun.


We wave charms and amulets,
horoscopes and horticultural guides
to best brands to buy
for Generation XY,
Generation Alibi.
All in this waka together,
bombarded by small pieces of pumice and scoria;
so emotionally invested
in Kiwiland's avatar —
where we the people, we the sheeple.
we the peeps, we the perps,
we the fraudsters, we the Treaty-honouring,
dwell and dwell
on a happening turned into an awakening.

Can't hongi with the poets, just elbow-bump
at a hangi for the Queen;
lower masks, rub noses, and tipple a snifter
of Bailey's Irish Cream.
Bring home ashes in a trim hessian bag:
those lately gone to the realm of Hine-nui-te-pō.
The manes of white-haired New Zealanders
nod sagely like toe-toe plumes in the breeze.
The CEO's a paladin who just lost his rag:
a prince of millionaires
with a Herne Bay heli-pad.
Plenty of bottom end to go around the bend;
a magistrate's gravelly speech,
throws the rule-book in a straight line,
as southern rātā and pōhutakawa
paint the whenua red.


Place-names vanish, to be replaced
by brand-new ancient dreams,
when the motu turns over in its sleep
and rumbles and steams.
Root vegetables bake delish in a dish;
I speak of the potato and the kūmara.
Commended souls do eye-rolls.
The festive season has its reasons.
The dire-wolf bares its teeth
to express grief;
puddles exclaim with pelting rain;
myriad tones of voice let rip
to the muffled hills as one song,
through the car window's quarter-light.
The rubble of jaded intellects is landslip.
If this be Doomsday, it is not in jest.
Isolation with the hard borders of lockdown
declares the importance of being earnest.


Here come the clouds; how vapid they are,
as if texting each other with sun emojis,
or pursuing futile chases that dissolve
into future expanses of climate change.
The lazy wind gives a farewell wave and dies;
a tsunami rolls and rolls,
far-out as a January day,
foamy as a car-wash.
Beneath the calm surface of bland
quivers a passive-aggressive possessive
that whips out like a lizard's tongue
to drag home its target like a wrapped-up fly.
Silly old fossil fuels flow from Noah's flood;
there's reverence and sublimation in hydro-electric structures.
Will the weather never get green?
It's going to be a fly-by of better loyalty cards
through blue skies from now on,
and a free Sweetwaters concert in every rest-home.

There's a convenient convenience store,
but no public convenience to be seen.
There's abject poverty up there on the screen,
but it's quickly covered by a request
to recycle your plastic dreams
of pre-packaged lunch deals and bank loan schemes.
Shoegazers on tv denounce single-use.
Low tolerance levels are expected to increase.
Seals flip and glide and swim in-shore.

The sacred nacre of pāua, spit of oyster spat,
a smelt blaze and the tag of string flutter;
starred wire fences cut across contours;
the falling folds of the bush-line
are petticoats of green crinoline.
Musculature of rugged ranges,
coloratura of operatic tūī,
chaffing of chaffinches,
beady wax-eyes that cluster in view,
a rumour of rosellas, a squabble of sparrows.
Flipped vortex of a spinning top;
lawn rolled up like carpet and flung on a truck.

There's pounamu that dwells in a tapu pool
to be prised and appraised anew,
as a stoned head bends and lends an ear,
while marl rebuffs the translucent inanga.
Brisk claw and scrape of a twig by a kākā;
kererū going for it — the reddish berry,
with bunt and swoosh, sough and shush.


A supply chain strains around the massive
neck of a kauri tree, and talismans are token
in this one hundred per cent pure Arcady,
the Lord knows where, between shade and azure.
It is, in semblance, a looking-glass land,
solid gold golf ball whacked into the gulf;
moth-land, moon-land, shear-land, gland-land,
whose North Island might checkmate South Island,
and take as pawns Stewart Island, the Poor
Knights, the Great and Little Barrier
bishops in a game of Crown and Anchor.
And let the glacial attitudes of the Pākehā
melt like snow creatures, or ice crystals,
in the eerie green faery mist
of patupaiarehe, amid chants of atua;
then bring out the chart of Te Tiriti o Waitangi,
document stained with blood and squid-ink.
A flying canoe ghostly in the sky paddles
over the whole fished-up archipelago,
guided by Kupe, whose pointing finger
shines with shark oil as the stars rise.

Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui.

— David Eggleton

Pohutakawa, Barrier Island. Photo David Eggleton