Mangakino, Aotearoa New Zealand, March 2021
March 2021. A year of COVID.
Seems more akin to a decade.
For us, no travel overseas to see whānau has meant a triathlon of toiling in a property turreted by tall trees, taking our dog Bruno for dallying walks to and around the roto nearby, calling back to Hong Kong and Philippines to chat and catch up.
We are fortunate to live here in Mangakino, away from the entropy of lockdown, although this settlement has its own interesting divide, as I attempt to convey in the titular poem below. Being able to visit Lake Maraetai regularly assuages our angst at not being able to travel overseas, although we can never sublimate this.
For as 2021 bows to autumn and its cold-blooded cousin winter, we wonder if we can get to see the mokopuna due in September in Tin Shui Wai and to make Aquilina’s 80th birthday in Santo Tomas this October…
Bruno is giving me the gaze. Time to cruise down to the lake. An epiphanic space – and another poem is born, which I have recorded as At lake maraetai.
[ka mate whare tahi, ka ora whare rua.
with one house, want; with two houses, plenty.]
residue of quondam
s p i l l
spaced between jungly plots,
a few refurbished
o c c u p i e d,
in this town without employ.
fulltime whare for local whānau,
manaaki whenua, manaaki tāngata,
& refuge for pensioners
marooned in the interstices,
all storing firewood
to forestall the cold.
nearer the lake
the moneyed ones.
an ostentatious boat or two
witness to their weekend jaunts
as part time summer-lovers;
swanky SUV & trendy trucks.
he pai rangitahi
mangakino is our divide.
a magnifying glass
for our asymmetry
as a nation.
[manaaki whenua, manaaki tāngata – Māori – care for the land, care for the people]
[he pai rangitahi – Māori – short term pleasure].
Vaughan Rapatahana (Te Ātiawa / Mangakino, Aotearoa New Zealand) is widely published across several genres in Māori and English and his work has been translated into Bahasa Malaysia, Italian, French, Mandarin and Romanian. His collection Atonement was nominated for a National Book Award in Philippines in 2016. He also won the inaugural international Proverse Poetry Prize in 2016 and was represented in Best New Zealand Poems in the following year. He participatedin World Poetry Recital Night, Kuala Lumpur, September 2019, and Poetry International, the Southbank Centre, London in October 2019 – in the launch of Poems from the Edge of Extinction and in Incendiary Art: the power of disruptive poetry. Rapatahana has a PhD from the University of Auckland on the work of English author Colin Wilson and frequently writes about and lectures on him. His New Zealand Book Council Writers File is here.