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Tuesday Pixie Nov 2014
I have a right to stand
I'm claiming it now.

Turangawaewae; 'a place to stand'
Is a deep empowerment from the land
Learnt through ancestral connection
Strengthened through ahi ka; 'keeping the fires burning'
Well, my ancestral stories ain't so impressive
There were few battles
Though my granddad worked for the air force in world war two
- As an accountant
We didn't encounter the gods or try to bring down the sun
Though when my Grandma arrived here she built up the soil
Soul of the Earth
For 70 years
As the city sprang up around her
And my mother aged 11 played follow the leader with a goat in the next door construction site
Where her house is now
My uncle found an old mans false teeth in a cup
Climbing through an abandoned house
My aunt visited James K Baxter's Jerusalem
She wasn't a fan of his poetry
But his wisdom spoke to her
My other aunts jumped through the neighbours trees
Who threatened to shoot them
My father followed my mother here
After her O.E with my sister in the oven
He ******* about John Key as much as anyone
And praises this land; it is home.

I stood on a windy cliff surrounded by pohutukawa and learnt the whisper of the sea
Roughing it on an island I tried determinedly to turn into a pukeko
I got my first cut, bruise, scrape from this land
My first breath, poem, touch of a violin, my first kiss was here
I know the rough patches, the fringe scene, where the best soil is
(It's at my grams house)
I know how to spot a drug house, which cafes will let us jam, where the open mics are 5 days of the week.
I know Kirikiriroa.

My fires have been burning
And I have a right to stand
I have learnt through my own evolution
Through Janet Frame's railroad country
Through a history
Cities growing and spreading
They weren't just here
As it has always seemed to me.

The countryside, what was here before?
Landscapes of forest and mountain
Familiar yet unknown to me.

When I go away I will know the difference
When I return I will know this land
The depth recognized through contrast
Defined by difference
As the sun and moon complement
Light and dark
Sorrow and joy
As in yin and yang
I will know nothing is completely separate.

When I go away I will know
So fully
And I will return and say:

This is my place to stand
My turangawaewae
My Aotearoa
Turangawaewae means 'a place to stand' in Maori. This is often linked to the marae as the foundation and is about inner strength and confidence to stand as well as an external right to stand. It has links to rights to a space which are kept through ahi ka 'keeping the fires burning' - tending to your land, looking after it, utilising it. If the fires are not kept burning for three consecutive generations the right to the land is extinguished. A right to land can be claimed through ancestral connection to the area, by reciting the stories of your people. I don't really have those, I'm mostly English. But it is also about a deep connection to land, and being empowered by this. My connection to this land is undeniable. My right to stand is connected to this. I feel grounded in a culture I've only partially been touched by, my roots are so deep in this soil and intertwined with theirs.
Tuesday Pixie Nov 2014
Hurry now, it’s leaving soon
Car door slams, gravel underfoot
And from the boot
Grandmas lil helper is lifted
Oh! Where did it go?
Wind twists scarf to snake
Released from frames captivity
I stoop and tug
Under your foot, Gran
She shuffles,
Ties it firmly around tiny shoulders
Bright colour against delicate skin
Paper thin, both,
One for beauty, one to hold the blood in
And may it hold the blood in,
Just a little longer...

The train awaits,
Steele stark against surrounding bush.
Matt has a sausage,
Mum bothers about tickets,
Both fuss and fizzle,
I press lips firmly together
Deciding then and there
Never to let entertainment turn to stress;
It’s more than it’s worth.

We’re to be in the engine room,
The rest will be left behind -
As something faulty.
Matt lifts Gran up;
She’s tiny,
She’s flying,
She’s in.
And then we’re all in.
We stare longingly through grimy glass
At empty carriages
Can’t we be in there? It’s all a bit stuffy.

There’s a fire along the track
But we don’t go any further.
The smoke streams out over forest.
And jerking and bumping,
Dipping along,
We reverse back to whence we started.
Petrol fumes and smoke fill our tiny cocoon
Here, let me help you*
Passenger to passenger,
Fellow human,
Compassionate eyes.
Gran has a seat;
She sways while we lurch.

Deep within
Railroad country
I make believe
I know something
Of the girl
Of the Plannies;
That sacred connection
To land and sky,
To Native country,
To Golden Macrocarpa

I stare over hills of tree ferns,
Kawakawa, Wheki, Punga
And, knowing no other,
I feel this land
My own.
"The girl of the Plannies" is Janet Frame, New Zealand author and poet, and a huge inspiration to me. Her autobiography taught me so much and made me truly realise my connection to New Zealand.

— The End —