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Grant Kingi
New Zealand

I am 19 years of age and I am currently studying at the University of Otago. I am New Zealand Maori and enjoy writing poems about my heritage, culture and outlook on life. The poem written below was inspired by one of my visits to a shoreline in Dunedin.
The history of the shore

I stand on the sand
Witnessing the ocean’s routine
The place where sea meets land
And where the loud meets serene

I ponder the dark history
Of what could have happened here
It’s one enormous mystery
The answers are not quite clear

But I know my ancestors landed upon these shores
Hundreds of years ago
To live amongst each other, fighting wars
Bodies scattered across the plateau

Mothers and sons and fathers and daughters
Slain and slaughtered
The flesh of their innocent, lifeless corpses
butchered and quartered

The head of a defeated chieftain
To be ritualistically eaten
Preserved or decorated

Then the white man came
With tools, food, and muskets
At first, our relationship was tame
But war erupted for land and justice

Missionaries had converted
Many Maori to Christianity
They baptized men who had once murdered
And now yearned for a different personality

I turn away from the seas
And head back up onto the mountain
Where I’m confronted with a breeze
The answers I wanted, I had found them

Mere & Child - Penny Howard