kani te manukura

Aotearoa/ New Zealand
sustainable harvest

youse be careful
how youse name dat niu born fing
fresh from da karu of da atuas

cos once
dea was dis place
i lived dat place awhiles
da peoples of dat place
dey wish a lon’ taime fo da kererū
to come

da peoples
dey plants da tree lucerne da harakeke da karaka da pūriri
da peoples
dey trap shoot poison kill dem rats stoats magpies mice
da peoples
dey sweat blood tears to make da kererū a paradise

da peoples of dat place
dey sez
when da kererū dey come
we will know

we will know
how dea wings beat da rhfhm
our hearts like da jun’le drums
we will know
how it feel smile happy at
dea drunken karaka pirau fall down antics

we will know
how da sweet forest berry taste
of dea flesh rolls down da korokoro
we will know
we are doing da lands
when there is enough for da
sustainable harvest
when da kererū dey come

but da kererū
dey don’ come dat place
an’ nobody . . .
nobody knows why.

i come alon’ an’ i’m no kererū
but i knows kererū paradise
when i sees smells hears tastes it
i come alon’ an’ i’m no
ethnobotanist zoologist forest ecologist
but me
i’mma manukura
which is a diffren’ kinda bird
so i know bout
da words
i know about da power
of da names
an’ how da world can be
storied up
in at least seven diffren’
kinda flavas

let’s rebran’ it
i say
my nan, she rebran’ herself one
dozen time an’ more
my faded photocopied landcourt minute
is all dea
spellin’ mistake on our names an’ all

how bout
taunga kererū
i say
da peoples of dat place
wea da kereru, dey don’ come
taunga kererū da peoples dey say
dey nod say okay okay

we make a labels
taunga kererū dem say
we put a labels on da jars
taunga kererū dem jars say
we fill dem jars with da
fresh seasonal whaingaroa kai
taunga kererū dem food filled jars say
nobody talk about it much
but we all know gotta preten’
like it’s human food
in dem jars
taunga kererū dem say

da humans dey come
an’ da jars dey buy dem
taunga kererū dem humans say
dem jars dey whispa back taunga kererū
from shelves benches boxes
cars tables recycle bins backpacks in da forests
taunga kererū dem jars dey whispa
taunga kererū
taunga kererū

an’ now da kererū?
to dat place
i lived dat place awhile
da kererū dey come
an da peoples of dat place
dey happy
dey know

so youse be careful
how youse name dat niu born fing
fresh from da gods eyes
make it da start of a good story

imperial measurements

and after the meeting greeting speeching welcoming

and after the fry bread butter gold syrup jam cream the cockles split open by steam laid out as jewels on the tables

and after the komiti marae has spent many unpaid hours deciphering a thousand pages of mysterious signs

and after the kuia has told of how her ancestor Hine-te-ariki thrashed and struck out in all six sacred directions to create the arms of the harbor

and after the kamātua has described how Hine-te-ariki whispered to certain stars in such a way as to compel them to fall from the sky and live as patiki tuangi pupu in the mudflats

and after the kaikarana has called out naming each and every bending of the land to the sea the swimming place of the mokos the gathering places of food fibre hoanga stone the resting places of Hine-te-ariki

and after the kaikarakia has spoken of how the proper words to honor the gifts of Hine-te-ariki to the people have been chanted remembered passed along family lines for centuries

and after the pakeke have talked of how when economic crisis came and went and came again the people survived only by the gifts of Hine-te-ariki

and after the tamariki have sung of how Hine-te-ariki swallows all the water twice a day so that the harbour might remain clean the charcoal suit with shining shoes has just one question

“so, how much room does this tanny-farr need to get past the new sewage ponds and pipe, like how may feet long and wide is it, exactly?”

a single question which hangs inert
over home heart land
awaiting the apparently inevitable

blue hiss and crackle
of the welding rod,
compressed sigh of air
and for the whump and whoof
to fuse to the rising clamour
of the rivet gun


(selection from "The Sea, to the Mountains, to the River", by Hone Tuwhare, used without permission but with full respect)

detail of Diasporic Waters - Joy Enomoto - 2014
Baninnur: A Basket of Food

kani te manukura
Ngai Tūhoe, Aotearoa

ko mataatua te waka i hoea mai nei, ka poua te hoe ki te moana a toi, piki ake kake ake te maunapōhatu, heke iho ki te awa o-hinemataroa, tū mai te iwi o ngai tūhoe, ka tau te hāmua ki waikirikiri e!

kani is a member of the poet family of the creative writing clan, affiliated to the creative writing tribe part of the literature confederation.