SHOOT THE CENTIPEDE
Here is a collection of stories and poems from Oruaiti Maori School. Oruaiti lies by the sea a few miles from Kaitaia. The children are putting out a regular newspaper in which their literary work appears. The illustrations in this newspaper, printed from lino-cuts in many colours, are beyond Te Ao Hou to reproduce although the reader sees we have tried. But the stories and poems can be printed and they are beautiful. They should not be read as the fumbling work of children; the observations are true and sharply expressed, they are good entertainment and also fascinating as literature. Of the eight authors five are Maori and three European, but it would be hard to say, without having the names, which are the Maori contributions. Throughout, the standard of the English, vocabularly, rhythm, the building of the sentences, is extremely high. One wonders why there should be any difficulty about Maori children learning English if this can be achieved in an isolated village among a representative group of children. The teacher is Mr J. Richardson and the teaching methods used are those advocated by the experimental ‘Northern Project’ of Mr Gordon Tovey, supervisor of the Arts and Crafts branch of the Department of Education.
The title of this collection, Shoot the Centipede, may seem a little unexpected. It comes from Oruaiti.
ALL KINDS OF FISH
Under the deep deep blue sea, shaped like a demon's heart, there lives a school of fishes that are of all kinds. Some with spotted backs and blossom colours that are just like silver.
In the deep deep blue sea there are funny sounds like the roaring thunder …. The painted coloured fishes twist around their tails like the fantail and the gold on their backs sparkles like stars and gleams like the light in our night porch.
The pine trees stand
Long and thin
A thousand pin points
Glittering in the sun.
What's that humming away over the hill? I think it must be John Hodges discing; it has gone away in a gulley but comes closer again; then it goes right away for about half an hour and in that half hour I can hear in the distance a shining cuckoo singing in the yellow wattles.
Over the mountains faraway the one crash of the waves could be heard.
Sea noises echoing throughout the misty gulley.
Foam on the shore is swept to sand.
Seaweeds hanging on.
Shells, their beautiful colours on their backs are scraped and faded
Sand colours disappeared away
There must have been a storm yesterday. everything is ruin and broken around the shores chipped rocks lie at the edge of the bank.
Small sandhills just by the sandy beach are built up by the angry winds.
On the last few Saturdays a man called Ted went down to Kaeo to have parties. When he went down last Saturday he went to the hotel to get cartons of beer for a party.
By the time he came out of the hotel he was a bit wobbly from side to side. He started his truck and put it in gear and started back home.
On the way back when he was coming up Kahoe Hill his truck stalled and he reversed over the bank. So he walked down the hill to the bottom to Renets and asked him to pull him out.
So Renet woke himself up and went on his Fordson to pull Ted's truck on to the road.
Going top speed pulling the truck out of the water table, skidding from side to side like a drunken man. When he got out he went right away. He never paid Mr Renet because he was too drunk.
THE PAINTING I DID
Pinned on the wall are my coloured paintings gleaming in the hot yellow sun, and as one sticks on the wall it stays there stiff and old until it's torn to bits. If it stays there too long our teacher comes along and throws it in the rubbish bin, and Ted comes along with a box and burns it in the incinerator. Our incinerator is very big. Ted is in charge of it. We pick up all the rubbish in our school and Ted burns it in the white incinerator.
FLYING SAUCER OVER NEW YORK
A door opened in the flying saucer. “Keep all guns trained on the door,” a man shouted. A man stepped out of the saucer, he was like a mortal human except his brow was a bit high. He showed no sign of carrying a weapon. Then one of the men shot at him and he fell to the ground wounded. Then out came a robot ….
THE WANDERING ORUAITI RIVER THE SUN DRAWING PICTURES
Searching from the thick blue sky is the sun Making picture clouds upon the hills
One sunny day I went up the hill to find a fantail nest, suddenly I heard a shushing noise: I looked out to sea and saw splashing water. Soon I saw it was a porpoise rolling over like hundreds of cartwheels one after another.
TEN INCH CENTIPEDE
Over the deep pointed hills
Across the snakey river (twisted)
In amongst the shrubby stones
Where the ferns stand straight up with their curved designed heads.
Under the logs where the fungus sticks like pauas
The ten inch centipede slept soundly
With legs and claws like pine needles
And eyes that are shaped like tacks,
And body like a crayfish's back.
He creeps through and out of the small dirty rotten logs
Where all the small creatures skim away from the horrible ten inch centipede
He sticks his catchers right out
With his legs lying flat to the ground
Waiting for something that just passes his way
And two minutes later he struck his prey
And took it into his leaf shaped mouth …
Our school newspaper is called Puhia te Weri which was named by Frances Heremia, who is fifteen years old and has just left school. Puhia te Weri means shoot the centipede. We were going to call it Puhia te Pakeha which means shoot the white man but we didn't because that might start a war and we don't really want a war here. (NELL.)
Irene won the centipede poem competition and for the prize she had two tree tomatoes, two pencils, a pencil sharpener and some sweets. David Windust did the front cover which he calls ‘centipede hunting’. Edward Martin designed and printed the name page. (TED H.)
This is a cold day because it is going to be a storm again and it is going to be a flood too. I think it is wonderful to have a swim in the flood. Today it is heavy rain and it rains every other day.
One of our ducks died because it was rambling down in the flood. The next morning we saw the duck's flipper marks on the banks and his head and body was in the ditch. I wept and wept that my duck was dead.
When the flood was over I saw sticks, stones, rags and old clothes. I was glad when the storm was over, but I never noticed that the drake died too. I was just that glad and happy that I never noticed. I laughed and laughed and laughed.
Baby birds open their beaks
Like open buckets
The bucket waiting for water
And the baby birds for worms …
THOUGHTS ABOUT LIGHT
As Mum fills our seven year old light
It mumbles as the kerosene rises up.
Light Sprinkling through the coloured curtains
Light flits through and out of the window blinds
And through it, makes a coloured film.
Moonlight; Passing through the tangled bushes
Streams; trees wading in the water
Lifting their umbrellas up to shade
Rushing through tar sealed streets
are cars, trucks passing like lightning.
Waves thrashing upon the beaches,
Foam bubbling below it
Birds hiding in their nests
Seaweeds waving like cotton threads ….
BELOW THE SEA
Swimming below the sea is a fish
Combing open the tangled seaweeds
And shaking them like the smoke
That curls up to the sky.
A centipede creeps through the grass
With long and active nippers
It eats the small insects.
With six legs on the ground it rears up
Then flops down onto the wiwi ground
And works the tangled grass
Until it comes to another insect.
He never moves away until he has devoured that insect ….
Sitting on a stalk of grass
Is a little bird.
A fat bird
A pretty bird
It's a chaffinch
A red and brown chaffinch
Why he's eating thistle tops.
The parachuted thistle tops.
I can hear the kiwi's voice
Slowly crying out into the dark
He walks from out his hiding place out of the ponga
He stops and listens to noises that are coming nearer
But he keeps walking on the dry tin taraire leaves
Soon clatter clatter he runs across the leaves to his hiding place.