The dull ache
Hana Pera Aoake
Tahi / Um
I listen to He Waiata Aroha and weep and miss you more than words could suffice, as a woman wails in português in the cobblestone street below.
It doesn’t leave.
It doesn’t change.
I could never escape.
Você tem fogo?
Maui takes all of my fires, burning from my fingers. He destroys four fingers before I cast my last finger into a kaikomako tree
I want only you
He had only partial success in the destroying of the fire which was kept in the five fingers of the hand of
Mahuika, After he had destroyed her four fingers, Mahuika, fearing the total extinction of fire, plucked off her
last finger and cast it into a kaikomako tree.
The dull ache thuds
The atua Rongomai spits across the sky like water skiing on roto wanaka. Rongomai glides across the Ranginui’s whare like pouring soap on the floor at a damp and mouldy flat in Aro Valley and taking off your shoes and making the floor slippery. Bored at the party. Brexiting. As in saying you will leave the party but you don’t you instead pour dishwashing liquid on a stranger’s floor.
Rua / Dois
We both puke on each other. I’ve always seen myself as a clown. I mean, why not? Porque você está em portugal? I mean, why not? The “wanderlust” that’s promised. Murder, murder, murder. Maybe I could be a killer clown. Murder myself. I should stop paying attention to myself. Everything feels a joke and every line a love letter of the most beautiful kind. The all time peril. Taking Fernando Pessoa’s virginity on his letters from James Joyce. The dull ache of love unsatisfied. Dissolving into waves. The real art I produce is my skincare regime. When will making something be relevant again? It’s all such a trap. It’s so obvious. The symphony of clowns. Maybe I’m the court jester. Hopefully people forget me and just become keto. Snapping the Len Lye in the Wellington harbour. Putting on garments as in the bodies of pakeha men in their 30s. Doing coke at night with the beautiful young crew eating high fat low carb at your desk job during the day. Forever young, I wanna be forever young. Snakes leaving their skins Today is Saturday, Sábado, Tamatea-kai-ariki. My keyboard is stuck in Português and I mix te reo rangatira into all my sentences. No shame. Walking through the pollution. Why feel shame? I’m going to try to speak it even if a kuia rolls her eyes and lashes her tongue correcting me. Correct me please, I want to learn, but don’t blame me because I don’t know.. It’s mine too. Crushed snail sheet mask with gold leaf. A pedicure where tiny fish nipple on your feet. Serving a wealthy curator food foraged from a dumpster. I cannot waiwhero in this land. My eggs will not fertilize.. I speak broken French and português into the broken yellow gloaming. Eggs break. I’m covered in egg shells while hens pick at my skin. We want. We want. We want. Money men puff their chest like peacocks in heat.
A three week sex contract with a Māori woman cost one dress and a musket.
Swimming out to the ships offering my body.
By the 1830s New Zealand’s biggest trade was… sex
The bombed out city. Burnt Moorish architecture. Weeds growing through the ruins of a car park. Flying cars over Auckland city. Chitty chitty bang bang ! Planting food with the coming and going slaps of the tide. Burning holes in my sheets. Eu estou aprendendo português. Joyous. Gluttony. Butter on the lips and on the hips. We never starve. Give me your attention. I live in exile on a high fat, low carb diet and dance for the eyes. A lychee slips out of Gloucester’s eye. See 't shalt thou never.
Toru / Três
Geographical landscapes in the distance. Love’s deep echo pulsating through my ears. The sky is hailing bones. I knew I wouldn’t return home at my māori graduation. I can’t run away. Tāwhirimātea howled against the glass. I decided to join the circus but then for reasons unexplained I did not. I knew how to say my pepeha but I didn’t. I am Māori wherever I go. I looked at my Māori tutor and almost cried. I could never escape. I stood up and then when my whanau was supposed to stand next to me, my pākehā mother stayed seated and my brother, both visibly afraid. Whakamā.
Tuna in lake waahi caress my skin.
Wha / Quatro
Drones plow into the pacific like rock-n-roll,
as in white men stealing blues from black men, ie: The Beatles,
moans of sovereignty unrealized.
Maybe we are a mini USA.
Mini little AmeriKKKa.
Australia certainly is.
We are a mini Australia.
Imagine militarising the police and sending them to a predominantly brown neighbourhood after a
white supremacist attack… yeh seems like a totally “logical” thing to do.
Safer communities do not include guns.
Our prime minister is money money money dairy run off Helen Clark carbon copy (but she DJs) who can’t even say her own baby’s name properly. I have no faith in politics, politicians, money men, ACAB. They all lick the boots and the shit and the bile and snort it up their nose with gusto. There will be no peace. I hate her fake-nice-white-lady smiley-smile-empty-eyes-that-only-look-real-when-trying-to-steal-more-land-and-pretend-ignorance with pounamu dripping from her ears. I want to rip them out.
filho da puta
Recently I learnt that Māori women are the most incarcerated women in the world.
Our women make up 67% of the female prison population.
Hone Heke cuts down the British flag not once, not twice, not three times, but four times.
I have a dream I kill Shane Jones and gut his insides and sleep in the inside of his skin to shelter myself from Tāwhirimātea.
H.M.S. Hazard sinks in the Kororareka bay, the red light district.
I go to a money museum guarded by hundreds of identical money men. On the bottom floor is a medieval wall built where the Tagus river used to come in to. I suddenly realised I’m standing on reclaimed land. I see bent out of shape hunks of gold stolen from Brazil. There’s little mention of imperialism.
The discourses in the west are centered around a kind of representationalist thinking. Never forget western ideological systems have little-to-nothing to do with daily existence especially the existence of everyday people.
In Portugal the ex-colonies gaining independence is framed as their ‘decolonisation’. This seems so strange to me. Not being a colony is only the first step.
I tell my Portuguese friend that she is not a Latino, she is Latin, because she is not South American. She cries, pouts and won’t talk to me for an entire month.
I wish so many Māori would stop pretending they are black and saying the N word. It’s so vile and disgusting to dip your pen in the trauma of others.
I wish so much that Māori and Pasifika cultures could come together, but not amalgamate our cultures together sloppily into bad performance art and call it decolonising, when it isn’t.
A Samoan doesn’t speak for a Tongan.
A Fijian doesn’t speak for someone from Tokelau.
Only Māori speak for Māori.
I’m not advocating for isolation or difference in a batshit colonial them VS us way
I’m advocating for nuance.
I’m advocating for the fact that unless it’s Māori-led in Aotearoa it ain’t decolonial, because you can never deny your context..
I’m advocating for the fact that Māori sovereignty was never ceded.
That this always was and always will be, Māori land.
Tino Rangatiratanga colours everyday.
Did you know that Tāmaki Makaurau is more culturally diverse than London, LA and New York?
It’s the 4th most multicultural city in the world.
According to statistics from 2016, 39% of its population was born overseas.
I JUST DON’T CARE ABOUT ACCEPTANCE OR BEING LIKED ANYMORE. NOBODY LIKES ME EXCEPT A COUPLE OF REALLY HOT WHITE MEN WITH MORE POWER THAN ME
(That I may or may not have masturbated thinking about several times)
(Imagine pegging a hot art dealer over the work of a racist artist?)
(THATS HOT OKAY?)
(It feels like everyone hates me)
Sorry lol emo but these insecurities and fears feel grounded in reality. Too much friction. Snakes and ladders for real. I hope every trace of my existence in Aotearoa just disintegrates anyway. I wasn’t a ‘dial-a-Māori’ I can’t karanga or lead the karakia or start the waiata or work out their tikanga. I know how to do some of these things but I can’t open my mouth. I can’t be the representative for rep. I don’t want to be a shield for anybody, not even myself. I see so many shields it makes you feel kind of sick really.
I just want a small animal and some chickens by the sea in the Algarve
I’m just tired of always being disappointed, of always being angry.
Rima / Cinco
Where are you from?
Sou da Nova Zelândia
Why are you here in Portugal?
Last night I cried trying to explain to a portuguese man named Luìs why I left New Zealand. They think of New Zealand and Australia as the promised land, as a paradise. I try and tell him about our colonial history, that I cannot afford to buy a house there, that I cannot get a good job there and that since I left New Zealand I haven’t been sick, because my apartment in Lisboa is not damp, cold and mouldy. I want to tell him about how low the life expectancy is for Māori and about our youth suicide rates, but I don’t. I try and tell him Lisboa is actually affordable, that I love Portuguese food and that I like the complexities and darkness of the history here and that I have read Camões, Ana Luísa Amaral and Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, but that I hate Pessoa (he’s too emotional), but like his heteronyms, especially Álvaro de Campos.
I begin to talk about Rua Kēnana, the Tūhoe prophet, and begin to almost choke, with a pain that feels violent. He’s not my tūpuna, but Maungapōhatu was our last stronghold of independence in the New Zealand wars. This was in 1916 and yet I only knew about Rua Kenana because I grew up singing the Herbs’ song Rua Kenana in the car with my Dad and sister. It reminds me of driving up and around windy hills in the Waikato to visit my uncle in Tirau. I think about my Uncle’s boil up and bacon and egg pie and how cold his house used to be and how when he smiled it frightened me a little bit, because he had so many teeth missing. I miss his belly laugh. The last time I talked to him he called my Mum when her and I were at the Cardrona pub. He was shirtless because he had the fire roaring.
When I think of home I just feel angry.
I sometimes want to pick up a patu and yell and scream and cry in agony falling to my knees, but my knees aren’t going to fall on the soft green hills of the Waikato… There’s only cobblestones marred in urine, rats, plastic, bile, cerveja left over from drunk British tourists. So when Luìs says to me, why do you live in Portugal? I want to be able to say confidently… it’s too painful to live in Aotearoa, but I miss my whanau and my whenua everyday, but that it’s easier for me to build a better life here. Instead I sit there stunned and let a stranger tell me that I’m making a mistake with my life by living in Portugal.
I imagine myself again as Mahuika letting all my anger act like fogo sizzling through my fingers wearing my brand new shellac nails. I want to feel happy and I want to feel at peace but I can’t I imagine Hinemoana holding me in the black atlantic sea and rocking me gently, until I finally fall asleep.
-Hana Pera Aoake (Lisboa, November 2019)
Ono / Seis
I was unsure how to end this piece of writing, so instead have opted to share a poem by my favourite Māori poet, Roma Potiki titled, The Decision of the Taniwha. (Potiki, Roma. “The decision of the Taniwha”. Shaking the tree. Wellington: Steele Roberts, 1998, 52-3.). This poem has given me strength to continue while being away from the whenua. It exemplifies my pain, my frustrations with others, but overall demonstrates that we have some real mahi to do. I re-read Shaking the tree in Kirikiriroa, a place that my river runs through now when I feel powerless I read Roma Potiki’s work to feel closer to home and to feel that there is space for my feelings of grief and anger.
The Decision of the Taniwha
You think people don’t know what you do
you think you have fooled them
with every smile
every kia ora
every kiss and nod.
You have been twisting and worming for a long time.
I have watched you getting people to agree to things they don’t understand,
watched you getting a quick yes
when the truth should be a considered no,
put up with your clever bullying
which passes as ‘being political’
with those who don’t know enough yet –
but the sharp mirror, the stony flint,
the tuatara heart and the decision of the taniwha are coming.
You have been calling all of these through:
the people you scared
the hurt of those wronged
the energy used to contain the fear
the unsettled wairua of those affected by your craft.
All the power that was taken
will come back tenfold,
all the power will come back 18
and in the howl of a cleansing wind
and the surge of powerful currents
you will be carried to meet your creation.
Everything you most fear is travelling to you
everything you most fear is travelling
everything you most fear is here already.
Even though you will want to think murder
it is you who called the taniwha
and you who will have to work for release.
The rest will dance a slow dance
in the light of her scales,
drink enough blood
to gather strength for the real work.
Hana Pera Aoake (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Hinerangi) is an artist, writer and editor from the wrong white crowd, currently based in Lisboa, Portugal. Having escaped the suffocation of Aotearoa, Hana will be studying at Maumaus escola des artes visuais in 2020 and continuing to learn Portuguese (Desculpe, falar devagar), because why the hell not. Hana is also working on a book to be published in 2020, but that’s top secret (kaua e kōrero ki tētahi).
“The Decision of the Taniwha” by Roma Potiki, is published with permission and acknowledgment by Steele Roberts, Wellington, who first published this poem in Shaking the Tree, in 1998.