By | 1 February 2013

must have b e e n
my great grandfather [x30] taku tipuna1
Manaia –

was THE transpacific toa2
well b e f o r e any white-mariner’s hands murkied the swill.

aue so faaaaaaaaaar

he’d poleaxed that grue Tūpenu
with one mighty swipe
& claiming utu3 for the rape of his wife, –
set sail trans-ocean.
Tokomaru te waka

steered by nga kuaka4 and maybe some whales,
they implored their gods
to skive a route southward,
scanning sidereal for matariki5 on those spectral nights,
peregrinating wave crests;
like no one before them.
Tokomaru te waka6

drinking deep from blistered nga hue7,
& filching errant flickers of rain
they delved down into kete8 for kūmara and taro,
y i
l n
thrusting for f g fish
yet lusting for far more
than those echinate gills.
Tokomaru te waka

transiting the currents and transcending the moon,
they trespassed on …

later, during the night
their gaunt dog absconded
guided all to shore with her faint distant yelps.

that first salient land-
the l o n g white gossamer over

A O T E A R O A.

beamed out at them, beckoning.

Rākeiora sounded the pūtātara9;
they beached, stashing nga hoe10,
scrambling for sanctuary …

well a w a y from the liminal,
they’d transgressed the ocean, transposed the skies,

transpacific almighty

so waaaaaaaaaay
before now

Poem Notes:
In Māori tradition, Tokomaru was one of the great ocean-going canoes that were used in the migrations that
settled New Zealand. It was commanded by Manaia. His brother-in-law had originally owned the canoe. When
Manaia’s wife was raped by a group of men, he slew them, including the chief Tupenu. Killing his brother-
in-law, he took the Tokomaru and set sail with his family for New Zealand. Landing at Whangaparaoa, they
finally settled at Taranaki. Te Āti Awa iwi trace their ancestry back to Tokomaru. This is my iwi.

  1. My ancestor
  2. Warrior
  3. Revenge
  4. the godwits
  5. Pleiades star constellation
  6. The canoe
  7. Gourds
  8. Kit bags made of flax
  9. Conch shell
  10. Large paddles
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