Treaty Sound Post

Roma Potiki
Roma Potiki
Photograph courtesy of 3rd Party Productions. Poem read by Roma Potiki.

Faster than a speeding bullet
Mere Pounamu races in her car to the next hui.
She’s always going so fast I don’t know how
she keeps it up.

Got a duvet in the back of her car, a big coat,
soap ‘n all that and a big, big bag of papers.
No lollies in there she reckons,
just all the research plus the claim folder
and the negotiation stuff.
She keeps the newspaper clippings too
and an ear out to the local iwi station
for ‘news as it happens’.

Her cellphone matches her
quick off the mark, efficient, and loud enough
to be heard. Quite effective I’d say,
but then I am her cousin.

As we speed along she talks about the land.
Who took what, when. How the incorporation
came into being, who undercut who else,
how some of the iwi have moved away
and would rather deal directly with the big cheeses.
How some Maori don’t know when they’ve become
little cheeses, and then back to tikanga again.
Always this, tikanga, kawa, tikanga.

Back at the latest occupation the pouwhenua
is on 24-hour watch. People visit,
the home crew are on permanent roster.

Auntie, auntie and auntie,
helped by cousie, cousie and co. run a mean kitchen.
Other ones write on computers, or talk or listen –
then it’s back to the kitchen. Some of the kids
make flax baskets for the food
that arrives in a constant stream.

In the car the land flashes past.
DoC’s got heaps of it man!
Some things get conserved.
Mere Pounamu's arms are flapping about,
when she drives and talks
I sometimes think she’ll take off into the air.

Kahu the hawk glides down the valley to our left.
Some tourists have stopped to have a beer
near one of our ‘historical sites’
kindly marked for the nation’s benefit.
Mere Pounamu hisses quietly and mumbles something.
I think the last word was tapu.
When she speaks at a meeting everyone listens.
She’s usually right, right to the point,
hits it on the head every time. One of the old men
said that she was a warrior and in so being
should remember to respect the enemy’s mana
and allow them a space to withdraw
with their mana intact. It’s hard to stop a weapon
in full flight.
Mere Pounamu’s control panel just got another gear.

Her driving just keeps improving.
Nobody does it better.

Roma Potiki (Te Rārawa, Te Aupouri, Ngāti Rangitihi)
Published in Shaking the Tree by Steele Roberts, 1998.

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