Em i no Paradais Long Hia

© Rangihīroa Panoho, 2020/2021. No part of this document (text or imagery) is free to be copied, plagiarised or shared for publication or for uses neither intended nor agreed on by the author without his express permission. The opinions expressed are those of Dr Panoho and not those of former employers or industry colleagues. Details for writing to the author are as follows: blueskypanoho@icloud.com          
rangihīroa, Anguganak, 2018


Credit: featured image, Tim Laman, cape presentation form of Vogelkop Bird of Paradise, PeerJ , 16 April 2018

EM I NO PARADAIS LONG HIA

26 September 2020

THE

 KUMUL

struts out on patrol

karanga atu e ia te

SINGSING

 

In WEST SEPIK green

calling into being

sink hole black

half disk LUKLUK

pāua paint jig

 

St Heliers girl

branch dancing

paradise voyeur

Em i gat laik

 

Porotī boy

b-b-b-bobbing and sh-sh-sh-shakin’

and fl-fl-fl-flitting and movin’

and quaking

mist fingers

stretching

down TORRICELLI’S rain drenched back

 

so that visibility is attacked

at ANGUGANAK

and the sky is covered

near the bluff

where village children stare

wondering if

they’ll be

a returning

mountain gazing

on slashed grass strip below

while a yellow sesna

jumpily climbs high

asunción

into the cloud hole

beyond braided ORPAN

‘attention

all locals’

there will be no rapture

 

TRUE, A

‘this is no paradise’

I WAS BORN IN PARADISE Niuean painter/poet John Pule once began a poem, at an exhibition opening I helped organise. Pule was talking about his home village Liku on the remote Pacific island of Nuie. Recently perusing an archive of photographs I pondered my own beginnings in an equally remote area of the South Pacific. The image showed my parents and I on the Northern coast of Papua New Guinea at Moem beach at Wewak, the main port of entry into the Western Sepik. The picture featuring locals with outriggers is also shot in Wewak. My entry point to this thinking about beginnings and arcadia (as sometimes is the case) was a plant. I was busy photographing a bird of paradise ‘flower’ (South African in origin) which finally decided to bloom a few weeks ago. It’s arrival happily coincided with my sorting through research files including these references to Papua New Guinea. The puawai got me thinking about the wider issue of provenance and associative names. The sorting process led me back to my place of birth and the stunning birds of paradise (the natural point of inspiration I presume) that still survive in the more remote parts of Papua New Guinea and Northern Australia. I don’t know for sure whether I saw and heard the kumul when I was a child but when you consider the location in some of the images below its certainly possible, even highly likely.

My personal favourite is the Vogelkop Bird of Paradise native to the Indonesian run side of Papua. In my opinion it posseses the most spectacular show of colour in the male mating rituals. Its’ visual impact has to do with a half disk of the deepest black and almost florescent aquamarine streaks and dots at the centre and the base of the ‘cape’ used to flit, swish and lure the females. There is definitely another essay here about colour in nature, the copyright attempts by sculptor Anish Kapoor to own Vantablack (the world’s blackest black) and the ongoing backlash in England. This kumul is a worthy rival to Kapoor’s Vantablack. It is said to have the blackest colouring on earth with the microscopic structure of its feathers absorbing nearly 100% of the light hitting it. There are incredible images of birds of paradise in Attenborough’s films and the research work of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology featuring the fuller range of kumul in their expeditions in the northern western rain forests of West Papua. I also wanted to acknowledge Tim Laman’s breathtaking imagery of this rare and utterly cativating manu, he kumul.

I WAS BORN IN A WEST SEPIK VILLAGE CALLED ANGUGANAK later moving to Amanab closer to the recently occupied border of West Papua. My mother later told me we were close enough to witness hospitals and schools going up in smoke as the Indonesians were busy removing the earlier Dutch layer. I include some images from the vantage point of the house Dad built (at Anguganak I am assuming because the bluff – that rises sharply 300 metres into the air – sits prominently in a window in the background of one of the archived photographs).

I dedicate my poem and the images, reclaimed and researched from family letters and fire damaged black and white photographs and 35mm colour transparencies my father took in the 1960s, to my mother and the paradise she pined for but to which she never returned. This strange body of material is the beginning of a range of investigative research work including the odd diary accounts Australian field officers working in this region (Australia took over from the Germans until 1975 when PNG finally gained it’s independence). These documents, a more official background to our presence in Australian occupied PNG, involved variously taking census figures, ‘spying’ (the region shares a northern boundary that buffers Australia from Asia and which became a sensitive zone when the Indonesians annexed the region) and what can only be described as colonial – odd village – inspections and outsider observations.

My father accompanied some of these survey patrols to villages, ‘…that extended from Inabu to Amanab and out to the coast to Vanimo covering hundreds of miles of jungles, swamps and bush clad mountain ranges.’ The records of these gruelling trips are now available in the University of California, San Diego archive of PNG patrol reports and I have been matching them with personal letters. They reveal a great deal about the way in which outsiders are coming into contact with a beautiful and extremely complex range of tribal peoples who continue (thankfully) to occupy an incredibly remote yet increasingly threatened portion of the indigenous world. I am not making a statement here about precious ‘authenticity’. All cultures change and adapt. However, one hopes that indigenous Papua Nūkini peoples locate a future that suits and which expresses their uniqueness and not the ambitions of the many surrounding nations that want to commercially and culturally exploit their bountiful natural resources.

I say let the kumul sing and dance and jig and do his thing.

rangihīroa, 4 pink impatiens floating, 25 March 2018

Lavender

© Rangihīroa Panoho, 2020/2021. No part of this document (text or imagery) is free to be copied, plagiarised or shared for publication or for uses neither intended nor agreed on by the author without his express permission. The opinions expressed are those of Dr Panoho and not those of former employers or industry colleagues. Details for writing to the author are as follows: blueskypanoho@icloud.com          
rangihīroa, lavender in blue glass vase, 2019

Pale lilac blooms

stolen In Memorium…

on a hillside

steeply launched

jet out memories like medicine

dropped out sound wave

on white cracked concrete

lazily warmed by evening sun

but no kind words hang in the air

since you passed

I never knew your name

looking around – it’s pretty much the same

you are not alone

the wind and the rain

have wiped remembrance here

but one trace remains

103 years after dust was cast

rotten pipe clay task

wiped from holy hands

one very particular scent still hangs

French Lavender

what began as a twig

a premonition piercing mounded clay

your lover day after day

returning

yearning

learning the way the ship soared

out through the mouth

like birth

and I too turning

seaward

across Granny’s bay towards Āwhitu

imagining you eager

to fight the Boers

I catch Mangere watching jealously

in the distance

lazily spitting up clouds

like melon pips

as if to say e hoa, it’s just a scraggy old bush there

kaore ngā ahi kā kei kōna

anake ngā tauiwi e okioki ana

ae, koinā te kōrero he maunga ariki

but its roots were watered

with the tears of loved ones

it’s true that on this crowded hill

they too rest somewhere else

but in off shore breezes

this old lavender

knows no boundaries on this headland

crush its healing oil in palm

and you too will see memory

and loved ones

resurrected

upon the wind

Maunga Mangere titiro ki Maungakiekie, Mangere mountain looks towards One tree Hill, Tāmaki Makaurau, 2020

This short poem concerns a visit 13 February 2019 to the urupā at the top of Hillsborough. It is steeply situated with spectacular harbourside views across Manukau south to Maunga Mangere and west seawards out to Awhitu peninsular – south Manukau Heads. One of the nineeteenth century graves featured a remarkably hardy bush of lavender. I photographed a few of its many blooms. This extremely weathered and hardy shrub had been left to fend for itself but in the late afternoon sun a gentle breeze was picking up and the air around that grave was filled with the delicate scent of French Lavender. It occurred to me that a number of the shrubs and trees deliberately planted by loved ones involved broader narratives of connection. Was there something particular about the chosen plant? What might it have signified, what emotion is signified? Who were these people who planted these shrubs and how often did they return to pay their respects and perhaps just to talk…?

rangihīroa, lavender in blue glass vase, 2019

A Conversation With Mr ‘T’

© Rangihīroa Panoho, 2020/2021. No part of this document (text or imagery) is free to be copied, plagiarised or shared for publication or for uses neither intended nor agreed on by the author without his express permission. The opinions expressed are those of Dr Panoho and not those of former employers or industry colleagues. Details for writing to the author are as follows: blueskypanoho@icloud.com          

(revised)

rangihīroa, Tī ‘cabbage tree’ with kāroro circling, Te Atatū, 10 June 2018

I was told

kākaho was the proud one

spurning the love of pingao

as she wistfully sought his plumes

waving in the wind

exalted above the sandy ridge

and with her rich toothy, green grin

dragging her vines ‘cross hot sand

not an introduction she’d planned

but that wānanga is wrong

isn’t it Mr Tī?

the light that reaches over Ōwairaka, Maungawhau and me

casts long shadows where we stand

and you demanded I shoot you, not kākaho, early afternoon

‘the light is more flattering’

a rustle in your messy top

broad, bright fluttering green leaves

as you casually explained

heroic

I want frontal, central, imposing

and if the shoot doesn’t give it

use Photoshop

you know, more than the Nor-Western motorway

I am Te Atatū

Don’t worry Mr Tī, I replied nervously,

there will be no rivals – not even kākaho

rangihīroa, kākaho, Te Atatū waterfront, 2018

I have followed your client brief to the t…

harakeke sits at your feet submissively

and proud kākaho (toetoe stem) has been banished

to the edge of Waitematā’s cloak

outside the shot

oh and one more thing: a small detail I must confide

I squinted up his textured trunk towards the sun radiating

behind his crown

him looking down murmuring a deep single syllable ‘ae’

and then softly, so softly one could barely hear it

above the chirp of matata and the squeeky toy twittering of the tōrea

rangihīroa, Matata ‘fernbird’, Te Atatū waterfront

a shake began

leaves clattering nor-wester

and around his trunk

a ghost hand massaging wīwī and coercing marshland grasses

I cleared my throat, perhaps a little self-consciously now

if you look closely at the photo

there are kāroro moving around your crown

they were squawking and laughing at me trying to get the shot

He said, no

they are admirers singling me out.

S O M E N O T E S

rangihīroa, Te Atatū shore line looking north-east towards Northcote

This is a revised post from 10 June 2018 and concerns two things – conservation and conceit against a backdrop of images taken on one of a couple of waterfront walks at Te Atatū ‘sunrise’. The dialogue is based on quite a different indigenous story concerning the native plants kākaho and pingao which similarly occupy the threshold domain between Tangaroa (the sea) and of Tāne (the forest). There are no sand dunes in the tidal mudflats of Te Atatū so I have singled out the most prominent native on location – tī, the native cabbage tree – for a more narcissistic version of the role kākaho demonstrates in the traditional story of unrequited love.

The setting is suitable for love but perhaps not self-love. The Waitematā tide was in and there was a view across to Chelsea Sugarworks, Northcote and further to East – the Viaduct and to the three Tāmaki maunga (ko Maungawhau, Maungakiekie and Ōwairaka) rising in the distance behind the rumbling nortwestern motorway as it heads towards the Rosebank, Avondale turnoff and further on the Te Atatū turnoffs.

My short dialogue involving Mr Tī had been brewing for quite a while since I first encountered the delightful story of pingao and kākaho in a publication produced by weavers who harvest the native fibre for their mahi ringa (tukutuku, kete and whāriki) and who also belonged to Ngā Puna Waihanga during the 1980s. I once accompanied a ranger in the Kaipara to gather the material for a meetinghouse, involving tukutuku utilising pingao, called Ihenga in Rotorua that celebrated the legendary travellers connection to the large northern harbour. Weavers who use the material, as with those utilising harakeke, are intimately involved with the maintenance and care of the sedge and its surrounding ecosystem. It is important to note here that this plant continues to exist in an increasingly fragile state on New Zealand coastal sand dunes. As I understood it these weavers were exemplary kaitiaki, truly practitioners of the whakataukī:

Manaakitia nga tukemata o Tane ‘caring for the eyebrows of Tane’

rangihīroa, pingao, Whāngarei Heads, 2020

The following account of kākaho and pingao is one of a number that tell the compelling love story:

From her home she [i.e. ko Pingao] looked up to the land and saw the young and handsome kakaho dancing on the sand dunes. Each time the kakaho made his appearance Pingao became more and more enamoured. Finally she asked permission from Tangaroa to leave the sea to meet her lover. Tangaroa granted her permission with words of warning that she would never make it.

However driven by blind love, she left the seaweed and crawled across the hot sand. As she struggled up she began to call to the kakaho – but he was interested only in himself. He was in love with his own shape and did not answer pingao’s calls. In desperation she called back to Tangaroa, who could do nothing but shower her with spray. And there on the sand dunes, the pingao remains to this day.Rangitane wānanga

For those sceptical regarding nature speaking. It’s not so much that nature talks perhaps more that we should listen. In my version singling out the tī is appropriate as it is a special tree whose name is contained within that of my Te Uriroroi affiliation with Porotī. It was there (outside Whāngārei on the way to Kaikohe) that a special ceremony was held to marry our ancestors with Waikato women and the cutting of the tī was the sign of the tomo ‘marriage negotiations’. This may relate to the raids of southern tribes on Whāngārei (Ōparakau, Parihaka, 1828) in retaliation for the raupatu conducted by Hika and our ancestral leaders who accompanied him in Tāmaki, Waikato and in Hauraki. So my choice of images is, as with any tribally based Māori, biased. Murua mai āku hara ne!

rangihīroa, tī flowering, Ōwairaka, 2019

I Will Need Words

© Rangihīroa Panoho, 2020/2021. No part of this document (text or imagery) is free to be copied, plagiarised or shared for publication or for uses neither intended nor agreed on by the author without his express permission. The opinions expressed are those of Dr Panoho and not those of former employers or industry colleagues. Details for writing to the author are as follows: blueskypanoho@icloud.com          

He Kōrero Tairitenga

The following poem was a contribution to a panel discussion involving Andrew Clifford, [Director Te Uru], Catherine Griffiths [typography artist], Bruce Connew [photographer] closing and acknowledging the show A Vocabulary.. and the launch of its book at Te Uru, Waitākere Contemporary Gallery, Titirangi, 13 February 2021

rangihīroa, Ātarangi, Hato Mikaere, Ōhaeawai, tata atu ki te Pū o te Wheke

I W I L L N E E D W O R D S

rangihīroa, Northern Wars, 2020, coloured inks on paper, matai me Japanese cherry

rangihīroa, ngā parekura o Ngā Pakanga Whenua o Mua, Ruapekapeka, 1845/1846
rangihīroa, The Road to Ruapekapeka, 2020

BEST BOOKS OF 2020

The publication_A Vocabulary

A fair and supportive response to my Ngā Pakanga Whenua o Mua mōteatea and pito kōrero in Bruce Connew’s ‘A Vocabulary…’

Review by Paul Diamond interviewed by Catherine Ryan on Radio New Zealand. The particular part of the sound byte concerning ‘A Vocabulary’ starts at 2 minutes…

The show ‘A Vocabulary’ is still on at Te Uru in Titirangi for another couple of weeks. And I just signed another 60 books this morning so I know there are now more books available from Te Uru, Waitakere Contemporary Gallery. There is also a panel discussion planned with Bruce Connew, myself and the typography artist Catherine Griffiths who designed both the book and the exhibition, prior to the completion of the show at Te Uru (details to come). Best Rangihīroa

P.S Nice to know I am still a curator, perhaps Māori Curator 🙂

Bruce Connew, A Vocabulary, Vapour Momenta Press

Lament

Book signing today with photographer Bruce Connew and writer Rangihīroa Panoho. Connew’s accompanying exhibition of photographs and the artist’s book available at Te Uru, Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Titirangi, AUCKLAND, NZ. Copies of ‘A Vocabulary’ sold out on the night, these are part of the next batch from the binders.

Who said people aren’t reading or buying books! This one is beautifully made. A gorgeous thing. Typography and exhibition design by Catherine Griffiths. Cloth, case-bound, 604 pages, section sewn, round spine, ribbon

10 SHADES OF CRIMSON

© Rangihīroa Panoho, 2020/2021. No part of this document (text or imagery) is free to be copied, plagiarised or shared for publication or for uses neither intended nor agreed on by the author without his express permission. The opinions expressed are those of Dr Panoho and not those of former employers or industry colleagues. Details for writing to the author are as follows: blueskypanoho@icloud.com          

written for the opening of Bruce Connew, ‘A Vocabulary’, Te Uru, Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Titirangi 12 December 2020

E ngā mate. Ka mahara tātou ki ngā mumu Māori e takoto ana kei raro i ngā parekura o ngā pakanga whenua o mua. Haere, haere, haere. Haere ki te poho o te Atua, haere ki Hawaikinui, Hawaiki roa, Hawaiki pāmamao.

rangihīroa, Hato Mikaere, Ōhaeawai


The parekura
sits silent
no noise at all
just the chatter
of a tui
wrecking putiputi
down by the hall
just the wind
murmuring
across the fertile plains
he swore he heard their
voices around
Ngāi Kuku’s last remains
 
down by the river
where the fighting pā
once stood
or was it just the twittering of
piwakawaka
in the woods
 
the scale of the loss
disgusted him
it explained why he refused
the spirit path to Rēinga
instead he would choose
to guard over
bones and taonga
and mourn unmentioned loss
hidden from a nearby cenotaph
that refused to count the cost
 
raised to his last battle
near fields in which he toiled
he read the text again and again
as if it would reveal
some other truth or meaning
that might possibly transcend
a vocabulary of forgetting
bronze letters that won’t bend
colourful adjectives
murdering rebels, barbarous savages

he struggled with the message
they were a people worth forgetting

Indeed not a word
of his hapū’s bravery
no mention of their name
or that settler greed for land
was largely to blame
for a war they never asked for
how else could one explain
an eternity of loss within
a deep gnawing pain
 
and when archaeologists visit
he wishes he could yell
and call
Haere mai
E hoa, haul your trig over here, man
Yeah map us brother, draft us on that plan
 
but the grid only measures trenches
so we’ll always be missed
except by manuhiri
that want to take a mimi
 
and summer comes and summer goes
and the pōhutukawa bleeds
scarlet in the morning
10 shades of crimson
when the sun retreats

Pohutukawa ko tahi

Pohutukawa e rua
Pōhutukawa e toru..

Some notes regarding ’10 Shades…

My wife’s people, Te Aupōuri, live near Cape Rēinga. They along with iwi like Ngāti Kuri consider themselves gatekeepers to Te Rerenga o Wairua ‘the leaping off point of the Spirits’ at the northern extremity of Aotearoa. Many Polynesian Islands in South Pacific have their leaping off points. This role of kaitiakitanga at the departure point of wairua journeying to Hawaiki has created family histories where ghost stories are common. At times the Spirits stop along the way and there are visitations. The narratives told at night of encounters with the spirits are the most frightening and are remembered and passed on with relish and great drama.

10 Shades…, in essence, is a ghost story taken from the point of view of a toa ‘Māori warrior’ who decides not to take the path to Rēinga and remains with his whānau and the warriors he fought with on a Ngā Pakanga Whenua o Mua battefield. In the poem one of the greatest struggles the central character has is accepting a memorial inscription raised near the battlefield. History, so the saying goes, is written by the victors.

Eetahi whakaaro whakaata moo te wai ‘some reflections on water’

© Rangihīroa Panoho, 2020/2021. No part of this document (text or imagery) is free to be copied, plagiarised or shared for publication or for uses neither intended nor agreed on by the author without his express permission. The opinions expressed are those of Dr Panoho and not those of former employers or industry colleagues. Details for writing to the author are as follows: blueskypanoho@icloud.com          
rangihīroa, have you ever tried to read water? 2018

If the ancestors’ eyes what might we see, if their hands what might we touch, if their ears, what might we hear? Whakarongo ki te tai. E tangi hāere ana. ‘Listen to the tide, lamenting as it flows on.’ Words radiate a ring path, skimming thin, slicing obsidian smooth — a face.
Like the tohunga ‘spiritual expert’ scanning the pools of Te Waiāriki — have you ever tried to read water? Can you feel their thinking about movement, sound, rhythm, light, space, distance, surface and … silence? In these words and their sounds:

Continue reading “Eetahi whakaaro whakaata moo te wai ‘some reflections on water’”

He Huinga Kupu Constructing ‘Vocabulary’ for A Nation

© Rangihīroa Panoho, 2020. No part of this document (text or imagery) is free to be copied, plagiarised or shared for publication or for uses neither intended nor agreed on by the author without his express permission. Details for writing to the author are as follows: blueskypanoho@icloud.com The opinions expressed are those of Dr Panoho and not those of former employers or industry colleagues

Catherine Griffiths Cover A Vocabulary
Catherine Griffiths, typography, cover ‘A Vocabulary’

He Huinga Kupu ‘A Vocabulary…’

rangihīroa, Mōteatea ‘lament’, A Vocabulary
Bruce Connew, 'Heke's Pā', A Vocabulary, Te Uru
Bruce Connew, ‘Heke’s Pā’, A Vocabulary, Te Uru, Titirangi, Auckland, NZ

Bruce Connew’s ‘A Vocabulary’. Opening Saturday at Te Uru, Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Titirangi, Tāmaki Makaurau, AUCKLAND, NZ, 12 December 2020 @ 4pm. The book, preview images and text are available through Vapour Momenta Press, 2021

Bruce Connew, Wakefield…’Author of the System of Colonisation‘, from monument, London, in A Vocabulary, 2020

For the last 2 1/2 years I have been working on text for ‘Bruce Connew, A Vocabulary’, However, both the artworks, my exhibition text and the accompanying book are now available and quietly on show prior to the more official opening this coming weekend. Yesterday, I got a chance to have sneak preview with the support staff at Te Uru, the artist, his partner Catherine Griffiths (the book and exhibition designer) and the Director Andrew Clifford. The show looks as good as I had envisaged it from the printed samples and jpegs that the photographer has been feeding me for many months now. It is a handsome catalogue and a fine looking exhibition. For those who live nineteenth century New Zealand history there are the familiar names in unfamiliar contexts. The monumental text from which these images have been extracted ends up strangely re-formulated. I have often wondered what the revolutionary exchange between Braque and Picasso felt like in Paris in 1907/1908 when a new language of Cubism was being invented. There is something unexpectedly exciting in the framing of monument text that is taking place in Connew’s work. Is it historical short-hand, historical pun, uneasy veneration…? A new vocabulary is indeed in formation…

Connew, A Vocabulary
Bruce Connew, Hori Kerei, ‘Sir George Grey’, A Vocabulary, Te Uru, Titirangi, AUCKLAND, NZ, Summer, 2020
Bruce Connew, Te Kooti/Titokowaru, A Vocabulary, Te Uru, Titirangi, AUCKLAND, NZ, Summer, 2020
Detail, Connew, A Vocabulary
Detail, Connew, ‘A Firm Friend of the Europeans...’, A VocabularyTe Uru, Titirangi, AUCKLAND, NZ, Summer, 2020/2021
Kenny Willis (Kaiwhakahaere Whakaaturanga me nga Whakaurunga, Te Uru) preparing samples of my text, including excerpts from Mōteatea ‘lament’and the essay ‘Ka Kakati te Namu, Ka ora tonu te kōrero ‘the sandfly nips…the conversation continues’ in the accompanying book, ‘A Vocabulary’