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Writing Wellington: Twenty Years of Victoria University Writing Fellows


page 68


1 Haunui

Haunui's the name—Big Wind,
    at your service. Caught them
        at it, didn't I? My woman
and Weku, my best mate—
    not any more, he's not.
        Trusted them, you know—him
and her who brought me so much
    pain. Caught them red-handed—if
        you'll pardon the expression—
at Waimapihi, a sacred spring
    whose waters immediately drained
        away for shame, for shame.

2 Weku

He'd a stupid grin, like he was
    making out some other lecher—
        may he rot in hell!—could
be the culprit. Should have
    heard the piwakawaka!
        The leaves concealing them
rippled with their merriment.
    Any other time I'd have
when I'm sporting the pair
    of horns he put on me.
        Couldn't let it pass, could I?
when my pride and honour,
    yeah, and dignity
        as a man, were at stake.

3 Te Ana o Hau

He hid in a towering bluff,
    but with one blow of my fist
        it became an archway down
which he dropped, abseiling
    for dear life—a katipo, God
page 69         damn it! He hit the beach
running, but I was swifter,
    squashing him flat with my foot.
        It was goodbye, Weku boy.
His soul, snatched up by a lizard,
    howled all the way to Te Po.
        Will miss him all the same
when fishing—him and his whoppers.
    That big one out there,
        yeah, Kapiti. It's one that
didn't get away. We fished it up—
    not that trickster Maui,
        with his impudent claims.

4 Maui

He lolled against the archway
    to the Underworld, murmuring
        how Wairaka's ghost brushed
past him, eyes and mouth agape
    in a soundless scream. A liar
        he may have been, but he
wasn't all bad. Trying to abolish
    death at great personal
        risk showed real nobility,
but try telling that to the
    piwakawaka, who fell out of
        their tree with laughter,
when Hinenuitepo turned massively
    in her sleep, closed her thighs,
        crushing his skull like eggshell.

5 Wairaka

She had to be punished. Couldn't
    live with the humiliation.
        She beat it south, squawking
like a weka, and where the coast
    baulks at the corner, she looked
        back and tripped, her feet
ensnared by seaweed. The little
    bush birds, attending her,
page 70         begged me to forgive her,
but my heart was stone. It wasn't
    good the thing I had to do—
        turned her into the monstrous
rock of ill omen that's named
    for her—Wairaka. Sort
        of miss her, though, glowing
black eyes, black hair tumbling to her
    bottom—lovely, that. Could
        weep, thinking of her and
how it used to be . . . Ah, well,
    that about wraps it up,
        yeah, that's about it.
Kia ora.