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The Gravestone May 24, 2009

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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I wrote this one when we were living in New Zealand – it seems like ages ago now.  I still miss it.

From my office window I looked across the expanse of Tauranga harbour and could just about spot a Māori grave marker of some kind.  Nobody in my office seemed to know much about it, except that it was tapu to go near it or past the fence if you weren’t Māori.  One evening as I walked across the old railway bridge across the river (which I frequently did) I decided to take a chance and go as near to the grave as I could … I couldn’t get very far because it was down a lane blocked off by posts and warning signs.  The wind blew up and freaked me out just enough to turn around and come home …. still, every day the grave would twinkle in the distance across my line of vision.  Who knows its story ?

The Gravestone
(Kōhatu)

by The Rambling Man

The gravestone lies quiet, at the end of the lane,
open and looking out to the harbour.  It’s raining.
White and tall stands the monument, adorned with simplicity
It is your sacred place, for I am forbidden to walk there.

Is it a man or a woman you hold ? or maybe a few ?
Is it a warrior, some powerful man of old ?
Alone now it stands, on a misty patch of green
surrounded by fences and unwritten rules.

Are you a chief who once commanded many ?
Or a warrior, the slayer of taniwha ?
Or maybe a poet, a wise old lady, chin adorned with moko ?
All now lying quiet, looking over the water, guarding the Moana.

Maybe you roam between the lane and the harbour, just watching.
Ready to greet this Pākehā with a fearsome haka, sending me on my way.
Or maybe we would share a hongi, breathing the same breath
And sit and share our thoughts.  What can you see from your side ?
What can I not see from mine ?

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