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No. 32 (September 1960)
– 20 –

THREE POEMS … by Nancy Bruce

UNFINISHED CANOE

Shake the wild boughs in the aisles of Puketi,
Curl the leaves in a writhing of pain,
Echo the anger of Tane-mahuta
For the son who has fallen in vain.
The kauri is fallen,
The karakia chanted,
The long haul is over,
The giant lies still.
Hollow the great log!
Ae! Hollow and shape it,
The beloved of Tane
To a mighty canoe!
Cruel lies the scar on the breast of Puketi,
Seared deep through the comforting green.
The tracks of the long haul are healed and grown over,
But the anger of Tane bites keen.
The kauri is fallen,
Alone and unfinished,
The chips whiten slowly
About the great bow.
Where are the skilled hands
To carve tall Tauihu,
To fashion Rauawa
To meet the strong tide?
Fill the marae with the sound of your grieving,
Let the earth meet the fall of your tears
For the great one who lies in his long desolation
To rot through the unheeding years.
The kauri is fallen,
The great canoe fashioned,
Fashioned and earthbound
To moulder away.
He will never set forth
As the great fleets once ventured,
He will never taste salt
On his tall eager prow.
No full-bosomed wave shall leap surging beneath him,
His sea bed the unyielding clay,
No rhythm of paddles to sweep the green river.
For the sad earth shall eat him away.
The kauri is fallen,
O weep, all my brothers!
No outrigger sloping
Against the swift tide.
O, winds of Kaikohe,
Sweep gently above him,
Beloved of Tane
Left lonely to die.

– 21 –

MAORI CARVER

His fingers draw their power from a source
Beyond his own life span. He can but guide
The knife upon its mission while he feels
The tuning of his spirit with the past.
Chapter and verse are his, the living whole
Embodied in the knowledge of his hands,
A nation's birthright and its history,
His vision flowering upon the wood.

TE MATUA O TE MOTU SIR APIRANA NGATA

Tremble with glory, O Ra, in your dying,
Burn on the pinnacle of mighty Hikurangi,
Winds of the east, breathe on Waiomatatini
Deep in ancient Puputa's sacred shade.
Kindle the mind with the spirit who dwelt here,
Stir the heart with the echo of his voice!
Ko Hikurangi te maunga,
Ko Waiapu te wai,
Ko Apirana Ngata te tangata!
When the birds of the morning at Rakaiwharehuka
Long ago heard the voice of Hakopa the tohunga,
All was foreshadowed, to be written in history,
With the prophecy sounding in the dawn.
Bright as a jewel shone the ember in the paua shell
in its blue smoke the rainbow appeared.
And the child grew to manhood
With the mountain and the river,
With the heritage of Nagati Porou.
O, lofty taumata, O, strong Hikurangi!
Blaze forth his spirit, te matua o te motu!
The lion on the marae with oratory ringing,
Living words to strike fire to the soul,
The poet, the leader, the builder of houses,
Steeped in the rich pride of his race,
His ideal that was blessed
Beneath Rongomaipapa—
Once again from the shadow of noble Porourangi
Let his challenge ring out to the furthermost regions
To the ears and the hearts of the youth that he cherished.
For Maoritanga draw the sword from the sheath!
Let the challenge be held and the loyalties quickened
To keep burnished his long-tended flame.
O, loved Kaumatua,
Still your mountain stands sentinel
And steadfast the Waiapu flows on!