Thursday, January 31, 2008

Poem for Hone

My friend Mary Paul went up north to attend Hone Tuwhare's tangi at his home marae in Kaikohe. Here's the poem she wrote about the occasion, and also about the long friendship he had with the Paul family, first with Blackwood and Janet, his first publishers, but then on into the next generation:

Poem for Hone

Your hikoi from te wai o pounamu
Was not planned

Your descent into Papatuanuku not counted on
But you must’ve known they would make their own decisions

You’ve written of it often enough and you know that
‘Cremation is not the Maori way’

Sometime about 1am on the night before the afternoon we got there
Moana your granddaughter gave you a piece of her mind

I don’t know exactly the words she said but it was tough

Coming back up here to this old place
Makes you available for comment

Coming back to this marae, not your own but your people are here
Brings your whanau back too

They are humble but resolute, shattered still by your personal land march away from them in 1965

The tangi is for the man not only the poet
Your son mihis to his mother
‘You may have been a poet but she is the poetry of love’

The next day when by chance I meet her and Rewi in the Kiwaka café
She asks why people think being addicted to alcohol is so amusing
We smile

Later the idea of self-medication surfaces
And I remember a rambling conversation with my friend Peter on this New Years Eve
The thing that is most us is the part we have no control over

Your psychiatrist said you had a fetish –
wanting always the earthiness of our succulent woman bodies

You knew you longed for your mother
Though you issued that Kaka Point challenge

See if I care – scatter me here
Singing cockles and mussels alive, alive, oh

We climb the hill as the sun breaks out from its grey veil
And you are lowered beside her – someone regrets it’s not beside your sister

From your new possie you look North over a valley and hillside of bright bush
Grown up from ti tree since Jean went there with your sister 30 years ago

Hinemoa shelters us from the heat under her green umbrella
and we speak of everyone leaving and of how your fame didn’t spread here

Some things have changed since 1945 1965 1975 but not so much

But no-one should feel ashamed

Likewise for my mother who used to joke of ends and ashes with you
And my sister
They both lie in the clinging earth

At Akaroa
At Makara

We, like your family, are not as fine as them
But they are you, we are them

This was bound to be whatever we did,
but in taking you, carrying you, holding you,
embracing each other, it comes to be seen to be

Kai ora e Hone

Mary Edmond-Paul
26th February 2008


Anonymous said...


Tangaroa scuttles whales
and beaches fleets of dolphins,
Rehua flies moreporks
into an overpass,
Tane sends chainsaws
to chew on totara:
let’s face it, Hone,
the Gods are bloody stupid.
They give, and they take
away. They were stupid
again, this week.

I’m drinking Hone Hikoi
in the Harlequin Bar,
watching the TV,
watching them dig your hole.

Hine-nui-te-po was a bird
in the pub at Mangakino.
Not the blonde,
not the brunette, whatever
their names were –
the other one,
the one 'with the dampness
of the earth in her veins'.
The one with the blackhead
on her chin -
the one filling an ashtray
in the corner of the pub,
under the dartboard
that had lost its numbers.

You ignored her,
but she was watching.
At closing time she sidled home
to sew you a suit.
She had to leave room,
knowing you’d fill out,
with Common Room sausage rolls
and literary dinners,
with Kaka Point homebrew
and with hot air.
Years, decades passed,
but the suit was waiting.
You’re wearing it now
as they squeeze you into the hole.

To write is to take
some little thing from death,
from Hine-nui-te-po,
'the Great Lady of Night'.
You took a dozen toi toi
and the rain on
a corrugated roof;
the Southern Ocean
and the walk down Highway One.
You left her a mound of earth
on the edge of Kaikohe,
and noon traffic backing up
to Ngawha Springs.

Dr Jack Ross said...

That's a really lovely poem ... You don't feel like signing it, do you? I'd love to know who the poet is.

Richard said...

I was going to praise The poem by Mary Paul but then I see this one by anonymous and its also a great poem!

Hone was Maori but he was also Hone!

I wish to echo -

Kia ora e Hone.

Anonymous said...

Hats off to Mary and Vive Anonymous!

Anonymous said...

Hats off to Mary and Vive Anonymous!
For a moment I thought it was still Hone speaking.

Anonymous said...

The author of "Tuwhare" is Maps.

Dr Jack Ross said...

Yes, I've seen it posted at his own blog, Reading the Maps, now:

"Remembering Tuwhare" (5/2/08)