Two recent poetry collections by Pākehā poets interrogate ecological loss and settler belonging within the context of colonialism as cultural and ecological displacement. There Is No Harbour (2019) by Dinah Hawken explores place and belonging in relation to colonial injustices against Māori from which her family benefitted. Flow: Whanganui River Poems (2017) by Airini Beautrais investigates ecological and cultural colonial degradation, stressing the importance of reckoning with the past in order to address present environmental challenges. These collections scrutinise the poets’ own senses of belonging in the context of relationships with Māori, and a nature constructed, through colonialism, by human agency. The collections are some of the latest installments of a developing tradition of ecopoetry written in Aotearoa New Zealand seeking to grapple in new ways with old tensions about land and understandings of the nonhuman world, and the specific ways in which these tensions shape both experience and poetry. I approach their work as a Pākehā ecopoet myself, as someone also working on understanding a longer view of history beyond Eurocentric narratives, and seeking fertile ways to write about the complexities of place that may never be resolved.
There Is No Harbour is a slim collection of thirty, short narrative poems, which Hawken describes as a single poem. One thematic strand traces her forebears from the time of their settlement from Cornwall, England to Taranaki in 1841 and their involvement in the 1859-81 Taranaki Wars between the British Army (with settler volunteers) and local Māori. It includes the passive resistance movement at Parihaka, a township founded in the mid-1860s by dispossessed Māori who developed tactics of non-violent resistance to European occupation of their land. In 1881, Parihaka was destroyed by colonial government troops. A second strand is a short history of the Taranaki Wars with a focus on Parihaka leaders Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi, who were exiled without trial to the South Island. In a third strand, Hawken reflects on her sense of belonging to place in the context of colonial injustices to Māori, and the responsibilities of living in a country with a history of colonial settlement.
The book departs from Hawken’s earlier work in both its content and form. In ten poetry collections published in New Zealand since 1987, she has predominantly written non-narrative lyric poetry. Her environmental poetry often seeks composure in a technologically mediated world by paying attention to the details of nature: trees, water and stone. Portrayals of psychic wholeness derived from the presence of the nonhuman world align this earlier work with Western notions of the duality between nature and culture. Hawken has also written ecopolemic, such as ‘The Uprising’, from Ocean and Stone (2015), which protests against sea-level rises and ocean pollution. Her first collection, It Has No Sound and Is Blue (1987), won the 1987 Commonwealth Poetry Prize for Best First Time Published Poet, and she was awarded the 2007 Lauris Edmond Award for Distinguished Contribution to New Zealand Poetry.
In a one-page foreword to There Is No Harbour, Hawken signals the complexity of grappling with her own sense of belonging to place in the context of a contentious settler history, and the way she is implicated in it. She writes that examining her family’s past in the writing of the poem has not led to any sense of resolution, rather:
It has led to something less measurable, perhaps more valuable––greater clarity, particularly of the depth of injustice Māori have endured in Taranaki.
Further emphasising the moral complexity of the situation, Hawken reveals that uncovering her family history ‘strengthened’ her ‘attachment’ and ‘gratitude’ to her forebears ‘whom I know as essentially good people’. This seeming paradox between injustice and goodness is laid open in accounts of the individual struggles faced by settlers seeking to improve their lives, which are distilled from the wider structure of colonialism and its displacement of Māori. By juxtaposing the accounts of settlers – who believed that the appropriation, and later purchase, of land was legitimate – with the effects of their occupation on Māori, Hawken highlights the greater struggles of Māori within the European narrative of settlement.
Accounts of European settlement draw on letters from the family archive and imaginative portrayals of the trials of settlers, particularly women and children:
I know Jane is exhausted.
She is cooking outside in the coastal wind.
The washing is damp, Jesse is crying.
Ada, Ella, Nina, Mabel, Theo, Jessie
and twins on the way.
Alongside such images of domestic hardship, Hawken portrays the war waged by British and volunteer forces against local Māori, in the voices of British Generals Cameron and Chute – ‘methodical invasion . . . ripped open / South Taranaki like a tin-opener’, ‘sudden attacks on soft targets’ – which she quotes from historian James Belich’s 2010 biography, ‘I Shall Not Die: Titokowaru’s War, 1868-1869’. She imagines in contrast the voice of Māori pacifist leader, Te Whiti:
Though some, in darkness of heart,
seeing their land ravaged,
might wish to take arms
and kill the aggressors
I say it must not be.
The layering of these perspectives within the poem builds a sense of the moral complexities of the time.
Early in the poem, Hawken relates unease at the purchase of land by settlers. In ‘South Taranaki’ she juxtaposes European and Māori notions of occupation:
It was that year, 1866,
that Joseph took up the land
––as if land could be lifted––
he’d bought from his mates in the rangers.
The proposal that land cannot ‘be lifted’ raises the different understandings between European and Māori of land occupation. Hawken’s use of the phrase ‘took up the land’ effectively writes back to Denis Glover’s ‘The Magpies’, 1941, described by Bill Manhire as ‘the single New Zealand poem to have achieved a kind of “classic” status’. Glover’s poem empathises with a European settler couple during the Great Depression when interest rates made farming unprofitable: ‘But all the beautiful crops soon went / to the mortgage man instead’, and eventually deemed the land worthless: ‘The farm’s still there. Mortgage corporations / couldn’t give it away’. ‘The Magpies’ was written within New Zealand’s literary nationalist tradition, a period in the early to mid-twentieth century when Pākehā writers were concerned, says John Newton, with ‘framing a national identity in the settler world’. By naturalising settler possession of land for farming and empathising with a settler notion of dispossession, Glover’s poem erases original Māori occupation. Auckland (Ngāpuhi) poet Robert Sullivan has also written back to such representations of Pākehā belonging. Sullivan’s ‘Took: A Preface to “The Magpies”’ from Shout Ha! To The Sky (2010), portrays the farm in Glover’s poem as taken from Māori, and Māori belonging based on cultural norms that pre-date European settlement. Counter to conventional readings in which ‘took’ in the first line of Glover’s poem –‘When Tom and Elizabeth took the farm’ – means purchased, Sullivan reads ‘took’ to mean that the farm was ‘appropriated’. He suggests that the very fact that Glover would not have meant to employ the double denotation explicates ‘the absence (I am tempted to say erasure) of explicit historical and political references in many works of NZ literature’ which ‘are as political and historical, when we notice, as the inclusion of them’. Hawken similarly suggests appropriation with her phrase ‘as if land could be lifted’. By signifying that land cannot be moved, she shows it has presence beyond ownership, implying tūrangawaewae and whakapapa, defined by Hirini Moko Mead as ‘place for the feet to stand, home’ and ‘birthright: the right to be associated with a locality … belonging’.
Hawken brings ongoing tension over land ownership in Aotearoa New Zealand into the present in ‘Belonging’, which draws on letters written by her great-great grandfather William Bayly in 1842-3. The poem portrays a wrestling match between William and Wiremu Kīngi Te Rangitāke over a block of land. It recounts that the match was a draw and afterwards the old adversaries became friends who ‘worked together / and slept in the same tent’:
and the question of belonging to the land
and the question of to whom the land belongs
and to whom that particular block of land
belonged––and now belongs––
was lying there unanswered
The poem speaks to how Māori and Pākehā have come to live together despite unresolved differences. The convoluted language of the above stanza suggests the way that the question of contemporary land ownership is complicated in terms of settler legal systems as opposed to when considered in moral terms.
As I write, protestors following Parihaka philosophies of peaceful resistance are gathered at Ihumātao in Auckland. The land has been in dispute since the mid-1880s, when it was taken from Māori following claims of rebellion and granted to settlers whose descendants eventually sold it to property developer Fletcher Residential. It is one of many contemporary cases of disputed land. After the 1975 Māori Land March, the Waitangi Tribunal was established to hear Māori grievances and land claims often stemming from different claims to sovereignty in the two versions (English and Māori) of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. Apology and partial redress in land and/or financial settlement have been made to Māori by New Zealand governments over the past thirty years and are ongoing.
Hawken’s interest in drawing on contemporary texts that include historical materials, and an affinity with other poets and artists working on a project of decolonization, is evident. A quotation in ‘1867, “The Year of the Daughters”’ rendering the Māori leader Tītokowaru ‘the most determined pacifist in South Taranaki’ is drawn from Belich’s biography. Hawken draws from a 2001 anthology of visual art, essays and poems celebrating pacifist Parihaka leaders and the community, called Parihaka: The Art of Passive Resistance, taking the following quote from Te Whiti: ‘the art of forbearance, / “the canoe by which we will be saved”’. From the same volume, she draws on Taranaki Pākehā poet Elizabeth Smither, ‘A white flame in dark hair … the colour of undimmed honour’. Smither’s image summons the white feather, a symbol of the passive resistance movement and of the notion of peaceful co-existence. Also from the anthology, Hawken quotes Taranaki Māori poet J.C. Sturm (1927-09), who asks, ‘Have you heard of Taranaki iwi / Denied a trial / Chained like dogs / In sealed caves and tunnels?’ which references the jailing of Parihaka men in Dunedin. These quotations acknowledge a history of literary responses that empathise with Taranaki Māori.
There Is No Harbour empathises with individuals on both sides of colonial violence: that is, Māori, from whom land had often been violently seized and Hawken’s forebears who benefitted from colonial settlement. It begins with portrayals of the lives of the British settlers. Their six-month sea voyage is epitomised by a description in ‘Plymouth to New Plymouth’ of Hawken’s great-grandmother, Jane, as a toddler, ‘who had learnt to crawl / on a tilting deck’. Depictions of Jane’s parents and her eight siblings in ‘Oswald, from his notebook:’ expose the hardships of mothering:
Inside were children who could be terrified
who grabbed the smallest ones
and ran, calling to the others,
women whose love for children
and should never be overlooked.
In ‘Refuge’, the settlers, who fear Tītokowaru, are temporarily repositioned as refugees:
Dysentery, diphtheria, diarrhoea, dirty water;
the immigrants, now refugees,
were overcrowded and afraid.
When some said that Tītokowaru
was about to attack the town,
alarm guns were fired and
a stream of women could be seen
going up the steep path into the barracks
––some with a child under each arm––
without hat, bonnet or shawl . . . utterly bewildered
amidst the confusion and noise
of women crying, children screaming . . .
The italics are quotations from an account by the wife of settler Thomas Gilbert in Francis Porter’s Born to New Zealand (1989). It reveals Māori perceived not only as hostile to settler moves toward future privilege and wealth – through the ‘commodification’ and ‘improvement’ of land seen, write Pawson and Brooking, as a ‘blank canvas’ – but also as primitive and savage. (In ‘The Journey’ and ‘The earmark’ Hawken portrays co-operation between settlers and Māori at an individual level, revealing the complexities of the time.) In ‘“To see outside of a dead vision is not an optical illusion”’, she draws on biographical data to figure Tītokowaru as a warrior and a man of peace:
Tītokowaru: Hohepa Otene (Joseph Horton),
10 years a Methodist preacher
with faith in ancestral gods
pacifist, orator and diplomat
a man with beautiful writing
ferocious warrior, master of strategy
who lost, in the end, the faith
of his followers at Tauranga Ika but
caught and undefeated
arose again for peace
in the village of Parihaka
His image is on the cover in a painting by Marian Maguire entitled Bilingual belly amphora, 1867. Tītokowaru ponders the embers (2010).
Hawken frames There Is No Harbour with settler colonial ecological destruction, beginning with an image of Jane as a small girl in 1845 who ‘played with her cousins / on the backs of harpooned whales’. Near the end, in ‘Ko manawanui: forbearance’, she wrestles with familial links to such ecological violence.
Hawken now lives at Paekakariki, a town at the south end of the South Taranaki Bight, a large bay that in colonial times was called Motherly Bay for the number of southern right whales that calved there.
I’m placed in Paekakariki
on the eroding edge
of Motherly Bay (where whales
once came for calving) looking north
to Kākaramea and past it
to Taranaki Mountain.
I’m alert to the facts
and sea-level rise.
By using the word ‘placed’, Hawken suggests placement within a particular family history as well. She considers her connection to the colonial invasion of Parihaka. ‘I don’t know what Jane and Joseph / thought about Parihaka in 1881’, she writes. ‘But I’m here at my desk / facing the face of Te Whiti’. She imagines that Te Whiti might say to her: ‘My world is your world too. / My time is also your time’, suggesting she must ‘face’ up to the injustices from which she, and by extension Pākehā generally, have benefitted.
As the poem nears its end, Hawken arrives at conclusions that reflect her own thoughts and feelings about a family history she has thus far portrayed mostly through others’ points of view. Her pronouncements read as bald statements of fact that throw up the complexities of the settler position. ‘I am the beneficiary of injustice’, she writes in ‘Losing everything’, ‘And of Jane and Joseph’s labour / and their love’. The collection’s epigraphs quote Sappho upholding not armies but ‘whatever one loves’ as ‘the fairest thing on the dark earth’, and a Māori proverb: ‘If you bow your head / let it be only / to a great mountain.’ Hawken’s metaphor of ‘mountainous’ mother love, representing the settler perspective, connects with Mt. Taranaki, ‘a single mountain … inward and silent … Nonetheless a witness’, representing the land and centuries of Māori occupation. This device encapsulates her own position, rendered as placed between love and land. In “‘Loss of possessions is a kind of freedom; loss of land is exile’”, she concludes:
This is what it comes down to:
Taranaki land was stolen.
My people––at first lost––were then
steadied by it. Pakakohe
were wrenched from it.
They were promised reserves,
instead they were jailed.
When you come down to it
everything comes back
to the vital, absorbing land.
Ultimately, Hawken describes her collection as but one of many investigations into New Zealand’s conflicted history:
and this poem
has no solace to offer:
it is a phrase or two in a story
being written and woven together
by numerous, various,
The words ‘written’ and ‘woven’ suggest both Pākehā and Māori reworking history in literature and art, and also the weaving together of the three conflicted strands of her poem. If not solace, Hawken’s last words, in memory of the people of Parihaka ‘who in their own bodies and minds dared to conceive / and then carry the weight and fragility of “peace / into existence”’, suggest hope: ‘the white feather, bold and far-sighted, striking and also light.’
Hawken’s notion of ‘generational hands’ reworking historical investigation is realised in Flow: Whanganui River Poems (2017) by the younger poet Airini Beautrais, a Whanganui writer. Beautrais has published three previous collections of poetry. The first, Secret Heart (2006), was awarded the 2007 Jessie Mackay Prize for the best first book of poetry. At 181-pages, Flow is larger than most poetry collections. It comprises ninety-nine narrative poems about the Whanganui catchment, which is located south of Taranaki. They trace the catchment’s geology, ecologies, and histories of human settlement from 1864 until 2014, a 150-year period encompassing the breadth of New Zealand’s colonial, ecological, and cultural transformations. In this collection, the Whanganui catchment works as a microcosm of New Zealand from the 19th-century until the present. Its stories of individuals and events are local but reflect a national history of cultural and environmental alteration.
Flow is divided into three sections. The first, ‘Catchment’, traces the retreat of Waikato iwi into the King Country/Te Rohe Pōtae following the invasion of the Waikato by colonial troops, the subsequent opening of the King Country as the Main Trunk railway was constructed, and the boom-and-bust economies of sawmilling. The middle section, ‘A Body of Water’, portrays the catchment’s geography and ecologies, including short poems about the native fauna of the river highlighting the degrading environmental effects of human activities. The final section, ‘The Moving Sand’, is a series of stories and observations about Whanganui port and town organised around the conceit of recurring shipwrecks. Overall, Flow portrays Māori resistance to European settlement, the hardships endured by Pākehā settlers especially in working the land, the detrimental effects of environmental alteration, late 20th-century opposition to continued deforestation and present-day connections between Māori and Pākehā. Some poems condemn the degrading cultural and ecological effects of the colonial project while others recognise changing ecological attitudes amongst Pākehā.
Like Hawken, Beautrais reflects on her own response to a family history of colonial settlement. She illuminates changed Pākehā attitudes towards the environment through recalling past activism. Her own ancestors are depicted as surveyors who facilitated the construction of the railway leading to sawmilling and deforestation. But her father represents a new attitude of environmental protection through his support of the Native Forest Action Council, which advocated for the protection of native forests and in 1978 stopped milling of the Pureora Forest. Beautrais positions herself as a descendant of settlers who cleared the forest and of Pākehā environmental activists who fought for its protection. She figures her children as beneficiaries of a shift from valuing nature as an economic resource to considering it worthy of preservation in its own right.
This shift is explicit in ‘Tributaries / Taumaruui to Piropiro, 2014’ in which Beautrais depicts her parents cleaning family gravestones. She uses the Māori word ‘whakapapa’ to describe her lineage suggesting a comfort with the term in relation to not only ancestry but also belonging and connection. This is one of many Māori words used, or at least widely understood, by Pākehā of Beautrais’s generation and younger. The poem elicits the recentness of the shift from milling to conservation by recalling conflict between loggers and activists:
‘They vindictively clearfelled, then replanted with pines,
Douglas Fir, or whatever they felt like,’ says Dad.
‘Whaddaya mean vindictively?’ asks my mum.
‘Every time we said “Why don’t we protect this bit?”
they went in and logged it.’ ‘Who sat up the trees?’
I ask them. ‘Oh, Stephen, Bernard …’
‘Sam …’ The twilight
comes in, all soupy and violet. The forest
gives off its night perfume. We walk until dark.
It feels like the bush will swallow us up.
A robin follows us out, hiding in the mānuka,
reappearing, disappearing, returning.
The image of the native robin returning to the portion of forest that is now protected suggests the reprise of Indigenous species, and of culture.
Throughout Flow, Beautrais employs inherited forms: ballads, odes, and sonnets. In ‘Catchment’, the ballad form links poems set in colonial and contemporary eras. The speakers in these poems present changing environmental perspectives over time, ranging from bushmen who celebrate the commercial logging of the forest to an activist who applauds the forest’s preservation. Repetition of the traditional form creates a sense of continuity and connectivity between the voices of the various speakers and draws together these Pākehā viewpoints into a combined history of settlement and of place, creating a sense of complicity and shared responsibility for both environmental degradation and rehabilitation.
In contrast to Hawken’s troubled identification as a colonial settler, Beautrais portrays a more secure sense of belonging. She seeks to write poetry of cultural entanglement. While the colonial past is a predominant theme, Beautrais draws her focus towards the future through images of her young children in communities where ecological science, Western traditions, and Māori concepts of environmental protection are embraced. Such a community is evoked in ‘Puanga’, which portrays a bicultural learning space:
The children are making the river.
They have sand and pumice. They have ferns.
A teacher unrolls masking tape,
presses a map to the wall.
There are birds that sing when squeezed.
Wild-eyed, a girl clings to a tūī.
There are little whare, into which
the birds can be inserted.
A boy carries the kōkako
around all morning.
Over the radio, silence.
Then the swish of piupiu,
tread of feet,
pat of plastic poi.
The inclusion of Māori words – whare (house), piupiu (flax skirt), poi (a soft ball on a string), tūī and kōkako (species of Indigenous birds) captures this sense of bicultural entanglement. The poem alternates between the terms ‘Puanga’ and ‘Rigel’, the Māori and English names for the brightest star in the constellation of Orion, and the significant star for Whanganui Māori to celebrate Matariki, Māori New Year. It references ‘Subaru’, the Japanese name for Matariki, connecting Whanganui with its sister city Nagaizumi-cho in Japan. But it asserts the local dominance of the Māori name over the others:
This is Matariki, or the Pleiades,
But in Whanganui,
Puanga is the star
we look for in the new year.
Western mythology is acknowledged but the poem suggests the greater relevance of local culture and ecology:
From here, Puanga.
From here, Rigel.
In the sky a hunter stands
on his hands,
both feet upwards.
In a tank a real eel.
The silver of īnanga.
The ‘hunter’ in the sky is the star cluster Orion, which takes its name from the mythical Greek hunter. Juxtaposing this image with the ‘real’ eel in the tank and the īnanga – a native species of New Zealand fish – contrasts Western preservation of the hunter only in myth with a Māori lifestyle in which eels and īnanga were hunted for food.
Together, Hawken and Beautrais’s collections depart from earlier poetic representations of Pākehā belonging, such as 2005 Poet Laureate Brian Turner’s assertion of Pākehā indigeneity in ‘Southern Tribesmen’ from Taking Off: ‘we are here … defines the meaning / of indigenous’. Such a declaration may have been a step forward from the literary nationalists’ anxiety over belonging in a land other than Britain, but it erased Māori history and culture. Hawken takes the more assured step for a Pākehā writer of giving precedence to Māori as the first inhabitants of Aotearoa New Zealand. In ‘Losing Everything’, she asserts that Jane and Joseph’s ‘labour of love’ does not obscure the dispossession of Māori:
While they ‘did something for a family’
there is no harbour
––we are tainted by confiscation.
The collection’s title, There Is No Harbour, embodies an image of trying but not yet finding a sense of Pākehā belonging. It references both the lack of a harbour at the Taranaki town of New Plymouth to shelter European sailing ships and a lack of refuge from the knowledge of colonial injustice.
Beautrais is similarly aware that the settler history many of her poems depict is only part of the river’s story. In her 2016 creative PhD thesis, of which Flow is a part, she says the collection’s three-part structure
reflects the importance of a three-part division to Whanganui iwi, whose main hapū, Hine-ngākau, Tama Ūpoko, and Tūpoho, trace their lineage to three siblings, and whose rohe (tribal districts) comprise three distinct geographical areas.
In Flow, the inclusion of Māori names for places, plants, and animals are reminders of the significance of the river catchment to local iwi, and of the acceptance of some Māori words and concepts by Pākehā New Zealanders over the last two decades. In her dedication she writes, ‘the significance of the relationships between Whanganui iwi and the river cannot be adequately addressed by a Pākehā writer’. She recalls that six generations of her family have lived in the Whanganui region and she has ‘a strong personal connection to the river’. Yet, in conversation at a public reading of excerpts of Flow at the Palmerston North City Library on 20 April 2018, she said she still feels like ‘something of an interloper’, thus giving precedence to Māori as first inhabitants.
By calling attention to ecologies altered by colonialism, Beautrais abandons the Western trope of the river as a site of solitude. Indeed, it is in her poems about fish that she departs most explicitly from Turner, whose many angling poems celebrate the non-human world via trout fishing. In ‘Trout’ from his 1978 collection Ladders of Rain, he writes: ‘magnificent trout, darkly / speckled, toffee brown … The water swirls / and purrs over him’. In ‘The Angler’ from his 2001 collection Taking Off, his speaker is ‘working my cares out / as I work the kinks from the line’. These images romanticise angling by portraying a sense of psychological rejuvenation through connection with nature. Beautrais’s 85-line poem ‘Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss Salmo trutta’ adds a layer to Turner’s appreciation of trout and fishing by acknowledging the native fish species that were supplanted after European settlers introduced trout into New Zealand lakes and rivers in the 19th century:
That which was here first is caught in the jawing,
of newness works to uncover.
Seek to recover
then fall to a culling:
newcomers spread and their numbers keep swelling.
Earlier in the poem ‘A weeding / of weakness, of small things’ implies the dominance of trout. The poem’s penultimate stanza implicitly critiques the global culture of fly-fishing: ‘The small and the slimy are fit for ignoring / the roaring / of rapids calls to the rover.’ Beautrais implies that the practice of anglers coming from other countries to experience trout fishing in New Zealand is an act of forgetting those ecologies – ‘The small and the slimy’ – that existed in pre-European times. Her four-line poem ‘Grayling / Upokororo / Prototroctes oxyrhynchus’ even more explicitly foregrounds the displacement of a native fish species:
Small insignificant fish.
Even your name is formless.
Null, extinct, extinguished.
Even your form is homeless.
Beautrais’s fish poems exemplify the kind of local writing about ecological transformation that Elizabeth DeLoughrey, in her 2011 essay ‘Ecocriticism: The Politics of Place’, says ‘calls attention to our very assumptions about what is a natural landscape’. They expose some problems in the relations between human and nonhuman nature when that nonhuman nature has been constituted by human agency.
Beautrais’s poetic portrayal of Aotearoa New Zealand’s colonial history conceptualises ‘both the legacies of rupture and the possibilities of imaginative recuperation and transformation’ described by DeLoughrey et al in their introduction to the 2015 Global Ecologies and the Environmental Humanities: Postcolonial Approaches. Beautrais posits Pākehā valuing of Māori embodiment of culture in nature as a possible precursor to future ecological repair. She heralds this vision in her dedication to Flow by highlighting the 2017 Te Awa Tupua Bill, part of the Treaty settlement between Whanganui iwi and the Crown, which took ‘the world-leading step of according legal personhood to the Whanganui River’. The Bill is described by historian Anne Salmond as a reflection of some ‘willingness by a non-Māori majority in New Zealand to recognise the value of Māori conceptions’. Beautrais portrays this sense of bicultural gathering in ‘Huihui / Taumarunui 2014’, which she sites at the confluence of the Ōngarue and Whanganui rivers, metaphorically suggesting confluence – a flowing together – of Māori and Pākehā cultures. She incorporates an image of her son as a vision of the future:
As we spread our picnic on the stones,
a wasp stings Lukas under his lip:
with every wail it swells a little more.
We drive out past the sports club: Home of the Eels,
Ngahuihuinga community gardens,
the old name for Cherry Grove.
Huihui: to gather. Like water does.
Airini Beautrais. Flow: Whanganui River Poems. Wellington, Victoria U Press, 2017.
Airini Beautrais. ‘Narrativity and Segmentivity in Contemporary Australian and New Zealand Long Poems and Poem Sequences: A thesis submitted to the Victoria University of Wellington in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy’. Wellington, Victoria U Press, 2016. p. 145.
Elizabeth DeLoughrey. ‘Ecocriticism: The Politics of Place’ in: Bucknor, Michael A and Donnell, Alison, eds. Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature. (eBook) 2011. 265-75. p. 266.
Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Jill Didur and Anthony Carrigan. ‘Introduction: A postcolonial environmental humanities’. In: DeLoughrey E, Didur J and Carrigan A, eds. Global Ecologies and the Environmental Humanities: Postcolonial Approaches. New York and Oxon, Routledge, 2015. 1-32. p. 5.
Dinah Hawken. There Is No Harbour. Victoria U Press, 2019.
Bill Manhire. Denis Glover Selected Poems. Wellington, Victoria U Press, 1995.p. 12.
Hirini Moko Mead. Tikanga Māori: Living by Māori Values. Wellington, Huia Publishers, 2016. pp. 47, 401.
John Newton. Hard Frost: Structures of Feeling in New Zealand Literature 1908-1945. Wellington, Victoria U Press, 2017. p. 153.
New Zealand Geographic. Auckland, Kowhai Media. September/October 2019. pp. 10, 12.
Eric Pawson & Tom Brooking, eds. Making a New Land. Dunedin, Otago U Press, 2013. pp. 84, 92.
Anne Salmond. Tears of Rangi: Experiments Across Worlds. Auckland, Auckland U Press, 2017. p. 410.
Robert Sullivan. Shout Ha! to the Sky. London, Salt Publishing, 2010.
Robert Sullivan. ‘A Poetics of Culture: Others’ and Ours, Separate and Commingled’. Landfall 211. Dunedin, Otago U Press, 2006. pp. 10-11.
Brian Turner. Ladders of Rain. Dunedin, John McIndoe, 1978.
Brian Turner, Taking Off. Wellington, Victoria U Press, 2001.
There Is No Harbour
by Dinah Hawken
Victoria University Press
Published February, 2019
Flow: Whanganui River Poems
by Airini Beautrais
Victoria University Press
Published July, 2017