Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Go to Te Ao Hou homepage
No. 42 (March 1963)
– 14 –

THREE POEMS

Te Ao Hou

We stand at the door of a decaying house
Gazing into the evening of legends;
A figure passes in the darkness there,
We search for the sign of his adorning
This is the new world, Maui passes
A surveyor in the new street.

Nga Wai

Life is as the waters of the sea;
As the land that stretches far into the distance;
The eye cannot see the end of it,
The ear cannot hear the last wave;
That space alone is filled
With waters and the works of God:
God alone sifts the waters of the sea.

Te Hekenga

Ko te ahi kai koura a Tama ki te rangi:
Te Riu o-Mahu; na, Ko Te Taumanu o Te Waka nui a Maui.
A name has been given to the setting sun,
A name has been given the waters of the sea
That leap in foam at Panau;
A name for the East; a name for the darkness
But no name is given
to the empty sorrow of the cold house:
the dead ashes
the deserted nets
That caught the sun's love on the sea at O Hau.
The dead without names are like the fruitless trees,
the barren Karaka;
the white driftwood on the dried sand.
A name is given to the hawk in the high air,
But no name is given to the forgotten song.
O Chieftain, when you stood here, O Tama, O Tama,
Beyond the waters in the days beyond:
You gave a name—a life you gave to the land
A prayer to the shimmering sun.