Writing in Whangarei

all our directions home

the taonga are placed on the sand.
taiaha stand quivering in the wind

speaking to the rōpū of sand-diggers
fire-lighters, early morning risers.

the people of this place mix easily
with us manuhiri, come to watch.

the greenstone mere from long ago
today, smashes the seashell in half:

a clean break between where we’ve
come from & where we are now.

we talk on the wind—impatience,
the ragged wave, sinks into the sand.

we listen to a story of sea birds—
how in the evening, their bellies full

they’ll spiral upwards on the wind.
when high enough, the leading birds

will cry out & begin to fly straight
in the direction of their island home.

the birds on the sea, watching this
lift off & follow, flying to the horizon.


you who first rise up on the wind
to see which way for us, we promise

to follow. call out loud from above
& we in our numbers will fly!

the tide turns, we gather the taonga,
put them in the boot of the car

& drive to the whare, where we eat
together silently—before, one-by-one

we rise to the heights & speak
of all our directions home.

-Vaughan Gunson


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