I n M y G r a n d m o t h e r ‘ s G a r d e n

20 April 2020

Reflective entry regarding the enforced Covid 19 bubble, memory and gathering

Featured image: Rangihīroa, ‘Tōtara North, Ditch‘ 10.51 am, 1 September 2019, captures a stretch of road that once was the life blood of the little kauri timber milling community on the Northwestern side of the Whangaroa Harbour. To the left at the entrance of the road is the hall where pictures used to be projected and cricket was played on grounds that today are being reclaimed by the arterial fingers of the harbour. The road leads up towards an historic graveyard where many of the colonial families are buried (including my mother, my grandparents, my aunties, uncles and Pākehā ancestors) assembled together as they once were in life. Further on is the nineteenth century school which many of these loved ones attended. For 6 months in 1970 I would walk with cousins from the corner where the bus would drop us off. I sometimes had bare feet and I remember the soft soles of my town feet didn’t much like the loose metal road. That was 1970.

© Rangihīroa Panoho, 2019-2023. 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 


I remember the hillside you planted in edible green

And hours spent weeding, picking beans

cutting courgettes up there

killing holiday time on the windy ridge

amongst red soil soaking up afternoon sun

drying ocre encrusted feet and

penitent knees

overlooking the Whangaroa

Continue reading “I n M y G r a n d m o t h e r ‘ s G a r d e n”

THE SKY WE SHARE

© Rangihīroa Panoho, 2020-2023. 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             

5 January 2020 (revised)



E hoa mā

Titiro atu ake ki te au pōuri

How can we not think of you?

You turn our days into evenings

our sun into a giant apocalyptic orange

that fills our horizon

a haze that hangs around for days



Up there

big brother

the atmosphere we share

is turning red

red like your soil

red like the blood

and the antipodean sky

we share



Friends

we are not so far away

that we cannot sense your nightmares

the smell of ash in the air

the death of eucalypts

the cry of the koala and the waratah

of heath and of kangaroos

of bush and of lizards

of birds above, of insects and of reptiles below

of adrenalin that rises up from every living creature

of homes and towns under siege




Neighbours

we are not too far away

that this devastation does not reach our nostrils

and touch our hearts



Tā tātou aroha ki Te Whenua Moemoeā

E ngā mate, moe mai, takoto mai rā

E te Atua

tahuri mai ki taku karanga

kia titaha mai tou taringa ki taku inoi…

whakatitahatia mai tou taringa ki ahau

whakarongo ki taku kupu

He inoi tātou mō te mutunga ki ēnei ahi whakamōtī



E te tuākana

Mā te Atua koutou

e manaaki e tiaki e ora e wairua ake tonu atu.

The Cherry Tree

© Rangihīroa Panoho, 2020-2023. 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             

He Rākau Tiere

(+ In memorium – R.M.P, 1935-2014)



Kōanga

is the time

the cherry shakes her flower

when the tui raises hell

up high

flurry scuffle sigh

and petals

give up the fight

and float away

softly now

blown

on purse lipped

nautilus

rangihīroa, cherry blossom, Ōwairaka, 2017
Continue reading “The Cherry Tree”

Em i no Paradais Long Hia

© Rangihīroa Panoho, 2020-2023. 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                   
rangihīroa, Anguganak, 2018





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

EM I NO PARADAIS LONG HIA

( + In memorium C PP & RMP)

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
sad sack sky
is covered
near the bluff
where village children stare
wondering if
there will be
a returning
mountain gazing
on slashed grass strip below
a single yellow sesna
jumpily climbs high
over braided ORPAN
into
a cloud hole
asunción
‘attention
all locals’
there will be no rapture
KEI KŌNEI
 
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 captivating 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 this proximity to this zone of conflict provided opportunity to witness hospitals and schools going up in smoke on the skyline 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 of 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 – etic inspections, penned 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, 2020-2023. 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                 
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 Maunga Māngere watching jealously

in the distance

lazily spitting 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 Māngere titiro ki Maungakiekie, Māngere 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 Māngere and west seawards out to Awhitu peninsula- 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 conveyed? 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 heritage blue glass vase, 2019

I Drank the Water

© Rangihīroa Panoho, 2018-2023. 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 
Photograph featured: Mark Adams, Ko Kawanui te puna, Whatitiri Springs, 26 October 1998, illustrated in MAORI ART, chapter 6 ‘Raruraru ki te Puna’, Batemans, 2015/2018: 139


I DRANK THE WATER

10 pm, Sunday 6 January 2018


Do you remember?

the stream we camped beside

when our families were huddled together

around the patriarch

and the dirty white canvas tent

that spouted waterfalls when it rained too hard

when your proudest boast was

how you hung off the Duke’s nose

we would put our heads under

and watch:

koeke ‘fresh water shrimps’ scuttle and dart

around smooth orange pebbles and

kōkopu flit to soft overhangs

nervous

as wind

ruffled the bracken dusted surface

even down under

we could still hear muffled

the branches of the mānuka

creak and laugh at our headless bodies

clattering they were

fondly against one another

as the clouds covered the holes in their canopy



rangihīroa, he uru manuka, Lake Rototoa, Kaipara ki Tonga, 2008

and like Narcissus

touching  the mirror

we drank from that wellspring

and drew in its purity

as if it had been struck from a rock

as if it was the air

that caressed the sheer rock cliffs

where the gannets dive



as if it was the birthright of

every New Zealander

And in case

you scoff as you wade our rivers

and dare not

practice baptism

or bring to your lips what you cannot boil

and in case you don’t recall

I drank that water



rangihīroa, Threatened Waikoropupū Springs, Golden Bay, Te Wai Pounamu, 2018