Hinemoana Baker

HINEMOANA BAKER was born in Christchurch in 1968. She remembers Whakatane in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, and Nelson in the South Island as her hometowns. Her Māori ancestry connects her to Horowhenua, Taranaki, Wellington (North Island) and Otago (South Island). Her poetry, fiction and children’s stories have been published in printed and online literary journals and anthologies, including Best New Zealand Poems 2004. Two of her plays were produced for the first Te Reo Māori seasons at Wellington’s Taki Rua Theatre in the 1990s. In 1998 she was awarded the Stout Research Centre/Reader’s Digest Writing Fellowship at Victoria University.

Hinemoana has written and produced several radio dramas, ongoing music features and documentaries for Radio New Zealand National and Concert FM. She is also an experienced performer and producer of her own work. Since 1990, she has read and performed her poetry and music at many events in New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Indonesia and Australia. She has shared the billing with many noted writers. As the result of a shared performance in 2003 with Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen, her first collection of poems mātuhi | needle (2004) was published both in New Zealand (Victoria University Press, Wellington) and in the US (Perceval Press, Santa Monica).

Baker comments: ‘This poem is set where I live in Paekakariki, on the Kapiti Coast.

‘The day I wrote it I was working in my office in the neighbour’s house. I was surprised to see a change in the scenery from their lounge window: the huge Norfolk pine that was such a feature of that view was being felled. As the procedure unfolded I found it compelling viewing, so I just kept watching.

‘It took several hours for the two men working to finally remove the tree, so I wrote the poem in real time, ranging over the events of that morning and predicting the evening to come, using the tree-felling as a keep-reading device.

‘I was delighted when, in the end, the tree didn’t fall in quite the way I expected.’

Poem: One

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