blackmail press 33
Amber Finau
New Zealand/ Vanuatu

Tui Taonga 1-5 Penny Howard
Amber is 59 – all but 60.  This is her year, a Water Dragon’s year – she awaits the magical or perhaps the momentous.  She's lived in a few places and done a few things but her family helps define her.  She is the mother of three; the grandmother of four and the wife of “the one”.

She has previously published in Blackmail Press.

Ah Tongatapu
Moko memories
Tattoed on my senses

You are

The fragrance of Tokonaki fires
earthy, pungent
swirling tendrils skyward wend
Offerings of appeasement
Pre-Sabbath atonement
Transgressions neatly piled and burned
Cleansing flames - shriven souls

Mate atu, ara atu

Siale kahoa
Lovingly lei-ed
Nukunuku’s bounty
Sensual sweetness
Musky magic
From cream to gold to burnished brown
A  lingering bouquet
Namu lelei

You are

Beribboned, bedecked urupa
Festively festooned
Black garmented mourners, bereft
Suffering the loss
and the heat
A survivor’s penance

You are

Sparkling children in Sunday best
The saliva-inspiring smell of fresh-baked bread
Laughing eyes at a witty jest

Lunch money lawmen
Kai lelei
On Sapate
Marvellous mouth-watering morsels

Night comes gently here
And as I drift away the breeze
One last reluctant caress offers
To still my sticky thoughts

While through the dark floats
Secret moonlit masculine voices
Kava & fellowship-inspired serenades
To one unknown and unsought
But soothed
To sleep

Po malie
Po marie


Tongatapu – main island of the Kingdom of Tonga
Moko – Maori tattoo
Tokonaki – Saturday the day of preparation, food is harvested/purchased, homes & grounds are tidied waste foliage is burned
Mate atu, ara atu a paraphrasing of a Maori proverb about the cyclic nature of life
Siale – gardenia
Kahoa – garland
Nukunuku – a village in Tongatapu renowned for it’s Siale
Namu lelei – smells good
Urupa – Maori word for cemetery
Kava – a ceremonial drink, narcotic properties
Po malie – Tongan- pleasant, good night
Po marie – Maori- peaceful, restful night

Vila’s Market

They sit
These women
Harangued by the man at the makeshift pulpit
They consider
Tomorrow’s money-making possibilities
Bunches of bok choy
Pairs of pampelmousse
Clusters of coconuts
Floats kept safe beneath their buttocks
As perched on plastic cracker bins
They rest
And prepare
For tomorrows as unforgiving as today