Wairarapa: day thirteen

The Manawatu Gorge Track. A 10km trek, about 8 ks in we made a little friend:


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Wairarapa: day twelve

A bit of a mix of a day. Spent some time in the morning playing around with ink.

Then at lunch Sian and I joined Christine and her family for a Christmas lunch on the lawn which was really lovely, with loads of kiwi classics (from the 70s?) salads with boiled eggs, potato salad with pureed peas, ham and pineapple, highlander dressing, followed by cheese cake and pavlova. Christine’s grandfather and great grandfather built this house, so all her cousins who came on Saturday all had memories of the house as children. They told us which rooms used to be what (the Burton room was once the lounge) and which rooms they stayed in (Alva always stayed in the Saiko room, which is the room I’m staying in – it didn’t have french doors then).

Then Sian and I went off to a fair in Queen’s Park in Masterton. There’s a little ride on train in the park on the island in the middle of the pond/lake. It only runs occassionally by a couple of volunteers. The older guy had a very familiar sense of humour and reminded me of our team leader Graham at the print shop.

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Wairarapa: day eleven

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Wairarapa: day ten

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Wairarapa: working with Sian

On Tuesday morning Illya McLellan visited Sian and I here at the residency and chatted with us for almost 3 hours! We talked about our projects, but mostly we talked about language, specifically te reo Māori and its importance to all New Zealanders. Particularly important given all the chat about te reo Māori’s place in the mainstream media. Today he published a story about us:

There are some things people expect to find in rural Wairarapa, but a New Zealand Pākehā poet teaching an Irish playwright Te Reo Māori is not one of them.

You can find the full article here

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Wairarapa: day nine

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Wairarapa: day eight


In a low pocket of the nightscape

beneath the rumpled quilt, at the foot of a

scraggy leafless tree, she waits.

Like a voice long quiet

a voice sitting in the solitude of this place

this is a bracketed or italic silence

between scenes / between moments / between entrances or exits

silence is not an acquiescence, it is a moment

in the night’s hunker down, eiderdown sleep

when the voices wake – she is there, listening

the melody of the sun rising – the sun casts the tree twice

between them she hears the moon lie down to dream

silent a moment more as the sun begins to speak

the night shines with te marama, an introspection

and the day unfurls a multitude of voices, he mārama

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Wairarapa: day seven

Getting back into the residency

Having taken time out, I’ve had to go back over those first few days and how I got into the flow of being productive without the pressure to be productive at the residency. The easiest way to do that was get up to date with blog posts (this is the last one for today!) and poetically process yesterday’s trip to Castle Point!

my voice rises from my tongue like tree growth

a poplar or a tī kōuka – the kind of tree that looks best

when paired with a cloudless blue sky

but once in the air the roots are disengaged

the sound becomes a rock hard vessel

landing easily and assuredly on the earth

there is no sense that such a boulder of sound

will ever release its form and

crumble into the ground beneath it

instead these forms, scattered on the landscape,

hum, holding together their form through the overlay

of tonal fluctuations, I can make no further connection

when next I speak, the vibration of my chords

forms silk threads like spiders’ or worms’

leaving trails, softly, silvery, perhaps wet like saliva

the sound now makes connection – perhaps a

single sound interrupted only by lip curls

tongue curls and lapses of concentration

this time my voice eases itself up against the atmosphere

and dissolves, evaporates

was I ever here at all?

the rocks in their weather resilience hold together

an ever living memory those things ever said

hard-shelled and concrete

the threads network the sounds – weaving the words

alongside one another to make rerenga kōrero

remembered only by the flight lines they leave behind

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Wairarapa: day six

On Friday I flew to Christchurch for a conference, giving a paper on ‘Transposing Islands: a way of remembering place in the poetry and drawing of Cilla McQueen.’ It was a wonderful little side trip which included hearing two fantastic papers at the conference, one from Tina Makareti and one from Gina Cole – both with eye opening and exciting ideas about ways of thinking about memory and the Pacific. I also went kayaking with some friends on the Avon river in the middle of Christchurch. 

None of that was in the Wairarapa, so keeping the count of my days here, Thursday was day five, so Sunday was say six.

Christine picked me up from the train station around midday, having stayed the night in Wellington Saturday night. We drove out to Castle Point. It took about 1.5hrs to drive out there in the blazing heat but gosh it was worth it!

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RNZ – i kōrero māua i te reo irirangi

Sian and I had a chat with Lynn Freeman on Friday at the RNZ Wellington studio (in the recording studio they use for Morning Report) on our way to the airport (Sian was off on a trip to Sydney for a family wedding, I was going to Christchurch for a conference – more on that later).

I’ve never been on the radio before, so it was a lot of fun! You can find the recording here.

We took this photo a little later on at Te Whanganui-a-Tara waterfront

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