Thursday, January 25, 2018

A visit to the underworld

Upstairs it was summer. Cicadas hissed in tune with the traffic, & the air smelt of rotting pohutukawa blossom and melting tar. But New Lynn station was dim and cool and abandoned, like a silo that had fired its missiles.

We sat and waited for a train, any train, and I told Aneirin how sorry I felt for the escalators, as they made their ceaseless pointless ascents, descents. 'But they're busy today' Aneirin said. 'They're carrying all the spirits up to our world.'

Thursday, January 11, 2018


Everyone knows about the refugees trapped in Papua New Guinea, but how many Kiwis realise that the people of New Guinea and of Melanesia in general are trapped in their own countries, because of the very tough restrictions on migration from the region maintained by Australia, New Zealand, and other Western nations? 

I talked last year with BFM's Mackenzie Smith about the quarantining of Melanesia, and about the case for allowing guest workers from the region to settle permanently in this country. The interview's now online here

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Shots from Mahurangi

Whare Joseph Thompson's sculpture rises beyond the beach and barbecues and colonial gardens of Wenderholm, at the foot of Maungatauhoro, a place of eroding cliffs, ancient pa, a burst dam. 
Maungatauhoro's slopes ooze pipi shells. Some of them have escaped from middens; others were strewn centuries ago, to make the footsteps of approaching warriors audible. Once the pa's trenches were palisaded, so that they resembled bared fangs; now they are toothless gums.
Thompson's pou remembers the chiefs interned on Maungatauhoro: men like Murupaenga, who died at the mouth of the Mahurangi River in 1825, trying hopelessly to hold back Hongi Hika's invasion of the south. Thompson uses wood the way a brutalist architect treats concrete. His pou's faces are a few deep cuts. They are bold yet enigmatic, like the hieroglyphs of Rapa Nui. The pou's expanses of bare wood are rippled, ruffled, the surface of a young creek. This sculpture is not a boundary marker; it is a boundary.
With its sheer cliffs, the pa on Mahurangi was almost impossible to capture. Without a supply of freshwater and space for sleep, the island was perhaps just as hard to defend for long. Waves and wind erode Mahurangi, refine its defences. On a hot day, from a distance, it resembles one of the citadels of ancient desert monk-warriors, a Sinai or a Masada on the Waitemata.

[Posted by Scott Hamilton]