Winnie Siulolovao Dunn Reviews Tayi Tibble

1 November 2018

Pokūahangatus is an urgent call to recognition, validation and vocalisation when it comes to the modern sovereignty of Māori people. And like the cyclical existence of Indigenous peoples, who always was and always will be, Tibble ends her collection just as it began – with the whakapapa. In the poem, ‘Hawaiki’, meaning paradise, the word is used as the name of the narrator’s brother, who is also named after the place where Māori people go when they die, back to where they were made, diving:

straight off the edge
of Cape Reinga and into 
the point where the sky 
hangs so heavy with spirits 
that it touches the sea.

The framework to every one of Tibble’s poems is the whakapapa, the link to all things: animate and inanimate, known and unknown, terrestrial and spiritual, legend and mundane. As a mixed Tongan-Australian, I recognise and respect various oral storytelling techniques, which are the foundations of our South Pacific cultures. In Tongan, it is called talanoa. Māori, Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, Tokelauan, Tahitian, Hawaiian and Kiribatian, use oral storytelling as a form of community building – a chance to understand each other. Tibble’s collection, now that it is here, sits amongst the poetry of Alice Te Punga Somerville, Maraea Rakuraku, Konai Helu Thaman, Karlo Mila, Tusiata Avia, Courtney Sina Meredith and Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner.

Eshayz sis.

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