Vaughan Rapatahana

mo te iwi o Te Atiawa ki raro Otepoti tonu

E Whiro you old bastard
I give you all my broken scraps
the tatterdemalion whispers of what might have been,
fissured tissues of my tupuna
with their cloven skulls
taiaha’d neatly by whiteman babble ,
and sacrum laid out in crossfires
lit specially for Te Whiti.

aue aue aue

Agamban put his full finger on
the pulsing puss
of your necromantic flimflam:
a charnel palette where white
made brown
paint the town celtic red
in pleuritic claret.

aue aue aue

come on and get us -
what’s left of us -
ngā iwi ngaro,

bury us
than we are now,
under Taranaki
where   we   belong,

homo sacer
even when we’re

Poem Note: Te Atiawa were the prisoners from Parihaka, a pā on the slopes of the mountain Taranaki in the North Island, who in 1882 were transported by the N. Z. Government to Dunedin in the South Island. The leaders were the prophets Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kaakahi and all went into exile as prisoners of conscience, asserting their continuing ownership to land that had been wrongfully confiscated by the Pakeha colonists. They never had a trial. In Dunedin they were used as labourers on projects like the building of the harbour walls; and the harsh conditions under which they were jailed meant that many of these prisoners died, mainly from tuberculosis. Their remains were never repatriated. The last of those taken prisoner would eventually be released in 1898.

Whiro is the Māori Lord of Darkness.

Vaughan Rapatahana is Māori (Te Atiawa, Ngati Te Whiti) & lives & works in Hong Kong.

Published in variety of genre worldwide. Ph. D Existential Literary Criticism, University of Auckland. Poetry editor MAI Review Journal until end of 2011. Semi-finalist inaugural Proverse Prize in Literature, 2009. Two collections of poetry published end of 2011 - Home Away Elsewhere (Proverse Hong Kong) and china as kafka (Kilmog Press, Dunedin, Aotearoa). His book, co-authored with Pauline Bunce, English Language as Hydra (Multilingual Matters, U.K.) was published in June, 2012.

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