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A Legend of Pukerua Bay

Alistair Te Ariki Campbell

I. 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.

II. Weku

He'd a stupid grin, like he was
            making out some other lecher –
                        may he rot in te torere – could
be the culprit. Should have
            heard the piwakawaka!
                        The leaves concealing them
rippled with their merriment.
            Any other time I'd have
                        sniggered with them, but not
when I'm wearing the shame
            of it – like a botched moko.
                        Couldn't let it pass, could I?
when my pride and honour,
            yeah, and dignity
                        as a man, were at stake.

III. 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
                        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.

IV. 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 might 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 laughing,
when Hinenuitepo turned massively
            in her sleep, closed her thighs,
                        crushing his skull like eggshell.

V. 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,
                        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.

First published in Twenty Years Writing of Victoria University Writing Fellows, ed. Roger Robinson, Victoria University Press, 1999.


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© Copyright 2006 Alistair Te Ariki Campbell & Trout.