Mahina Marshall
New Zealand

Karakia Precari - Penny Howard 2016
Māhina Marshall (Waitaha, Kāti Mamoe, Kāi Tahu) works in the heritage sector. She has lived in Europe and the Middle East, and is now settled with her family in the Nelson region. She has published a number of poems and is currently writing her first novel.
Me he korokoro Tūī   

look there!
dark flint in flight
tuft of white, on mātara chest
a shuttlecock dive;

he carves a path on leaf-vane heights
kōwhai to rātā he quests
    look there!
dark flint in flight

with a swish and a skip, this gadabout sprite
sips nectar upon pūriri’s crest
a shuttlecock dive;

     a burst, a flurry, a nod - ever slight –
whisking sweep to lady-built nest
     look there!
dark flint in flight

she rests upon eggs, in voice’d delight
her warbling song, pitch-pure, expressed
a shuttlecock dive;

loops between worlds, crow-feathered; bright
spirit voyager, from deepest west
     look there! 
dark flint in flight
a shuttlecock dive;

Note: Me he korokoro Tūī means as sweet sounding (or as sweet throated) as the Tūī bird, like the throat of the Tūī or the call of the Tūī. It is a Kōrero taiao, a Māori saying from nature which refers to someone having a beautiful singing voice.


draped clusters, wind blown
te ura o te Kowhai
her grace, Kereru

women’s refuge

  on a gloved hand
bitten        to the

quick!  we must go now!

brown shabby
packed again

I am Taniwha

there was once one
one who heard my voice
     of the tribe
who listened

he stood
              within peace

where river met  sea
where water from 
mountain mouth caves
land,  rock, sky and
salty breeze

were the shapeshifting shores of the   

then, for a long time
there was no-one
   and a long time
became a time of       


when my presence
announced an end

death to a way    
death to a people
death to a culture

and so people connected me to


but I am
not the harbinger of death

I am life!

I am the Spirit of this Place
in service to the tribe

I am the voice of the land

I am power guardian                          

Hear me!  Listen!

feel me rise within you

The story of un-red Arthur

I am atavist:
a throwback, having an ancestor’s characteristics that have skipped a few generations; where imperfect DNA has crept down the gen-aisles, on tides steeped in an unsettled past; settling, imbedding in voluble heart, impunitive head. I am related through these meandering ties; hereditary vein-wires; to the agitator


As a child he built the first radio in his community; in the local hall. Later, he built the printing press for writers, to talk about the rights of the ‘working man,’ and the freedom of speech. He was a speaker on wharves without permits, and, according to the authorities a ‘Pamphleteer of Seditious Literature,' a ‘pernicious firebrand,’ and so-called ‘Communist Editor’. Even (‘oh dear’)

He lived through uneasy depression, mid World Wars; not forgetting the Spanish Civil War, where many with a heart and a pen went, to experience (such torments of betrayal and scorched humanity)… Even here, in New Zealand, was it wise to think aloud, or in earnest? To upset, or disrupt, the loyal tax churners? Socialists, anarchists, feminists - all ‘damn Reds’ Frustrated, the status quo was only going

Arthur, this flouter-man of fickle facades, found he couldn’t abide in picket fence yards; with their pretty posies, pilloried people in white plaster homes; the stucco of stigma’s hypocritical bones. He was a troublemaker, in continual dissent, this forbear forlorn, torn askance from homely paens. Cast out. Quietly advised to ‘go away,’ Australia say. It was that, or prison again. And so it was, he was driven from kiwi

This antecedent, malcontent, went, with his ephemeral feet, like imprints in wet cement (the family business in cement came later to the ones that he left behind). He was spoken of afterwards in low, hushed tones, no niceties. A dismissal of his ‘vices’, those heart-felt crimes. This man, denied. A cornerstone in my own atavistic dawning. A genes

of dis-obeisance and social conscience innate;
Arthur, you are remembered