Flying In, Southside

1 November 2015

At Mangere the airport welcomes you to Middle Earth,
coasting on a jet’s wing and a karakia,
but the industrial parkland unfolds as generic,
though ’nesian mystics harmonise snatches of melody
on Bader Drive by the fale-style churches of Little Tonga,
all the way round the Town Centre to busy Pak’NSave,
from whose carpark the Mountain looks back, submerging.

Manaia sail across blue heaven to catch day-dreams;
they glide like slo-mo fa’afafine above South Auckland:
the big box stores, all in orange green yellow or red,
as big as aircraft hangars in this polycotton lavalava
wraparound hibiscus paradise of Pap’toe,’Tara, Otahu —
the happy coin marts, the fly-by-night clearance outlets,
the stack ’em high, sell ’em cheap, plastic whatnot bins.

A pearl nacre overcasts closed abattoirs of Southdown,
colonial headquarters of Hellaby’s meat empire,
shunting yards of Otahuhu Railway Workshops.
Two-dollar leis sway outside shops on Great South Road.
There’s Fiji-style goat curry and Bollywood on screens,
kava, taro, fish heads on ice, hands of green bananas —
no sign of Sigatoka blight amid tart tangelo pyramids.

The suburban origami of bungalow roofs is folded over,
under the warmth of ‘Mangere’/‘lazy wind’: so hot and slow
it barely moves the washing on thousands of clotheslines.
Planes touch down; sirens yammer through the tail-backs;
Macca’s golden arches sweat the small hours,
and a police chopper after midnight bugs the sky;
weaving back and forth over quiet streets of Manurewa.

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