issue 3

october 2015

issue 3 - october 2015

Before the Battle Begins - Te Rina Ransfield

The bell rings, a chill is swept across the sacred ground of Tu Te Ao Marae. A call is sent and in rolls the blood of a thousand years. Heads are bowed in silence and up rise 50 staunch hands. “He hōnore he korōria he maungarongo ki te whenua he whakaaro pai ki ngā tāngata katoa, Āmine.” A quiet like no other fills the whare, a holy presence embraces my bones. Such a voice demands all ears, demands all focus and all spirit. Te reo o te rangatira, te pou. The voice of Te Kāhautu, of Uncle Dudu. He lays his karakia upon us and in that moment we are a whole spirit, we are united and we are one. We are Ōpōtiki Mai Tawhiti.

As the spiritual dust settles, the call is given “On the floor!” With a quick breath of release the rows fill one by one; one by one jandals are carelessly flung against walls. One by one poi begin to flutter and solidarity becomes unveiled. Deep strums of guitar lead the way and harmonic voices quickly fill the wharekai. Bad acoustics disguise the guitar’s beat as the sound bashes walls and explodes with a force so overbearing it echoes in my ears. In that moment we are a whole spirit, united, one. We are Ōpōtiki Mai Tawhiti.

Hours pass, puku tremble. Ringawera are preparing a kai that could easily feed a platoon of men returning from world war. Delectable scents of sweetcorn swirl and swipe past the nostrils of the roopu. Eyes begin to brighten and lips are licked, awaiting practise to be stopped just a few hours so the widening gap in stomachs can be filled. Over and over lines are sung, replaying in their head a voice: “One more time pleeeeease... I’m staaaaaarving!” At last, the table is tapped with a knife, heads are bowed and the buffet begins. In that moment we are whole, united and one. Ōpōtiki Mai Tawhiti: that’s who we are.  

One last run through of the waiata as moonlight caresses the Paa. Countless hours spent to perfect a mere 30 minute stand. Passion drips from faces, hands swipe across foreheads and then down the side of shorts. The men are shadowed outside as the haka is boomed from the Atea. Tongues are out, eyes are wide and feet pound the ground in repetitive beat as if Ruaumoko has awoken ready to engulf anyone who dares challenge their mana. The women are just as staunch. Their poi become heavy and their wrists become weak but they carry on, knowing that perfection is the only way they can rest their tired bodies. Unruly hair swallows faces and sticky feet are screaming to be washed. As night grows darker so too do the eyes, a long day soon turns into long night. In that moment we are a whole spirit. We are united. We are one. We are Ōpōtiki Mai Tawhiti.

Forty exhausted faces pace to the shower and wash the sweat from aching bodies. One more smoke and cup of tea before they go to rest, waiting to be drilled again tomorrow. Once again the bell rings, a chill sweeps across the sacred ground of Tu Te Ao Marae.  A call is sent and in rolls the blood, a thousand years. Heads bow in silence. Up rise 50 staunch hands. “He hōnore he korōria he maungarongo ki te whenua he whakaaro pai ki ngā tāngata katoa, Āmine.” A quiet like no other, a holy presence, has filled the whare and my bones. Such a voice demands all ears, demands all focus and all spirit. Te reo o te rangatira, te pou. The voice of Te Kāhautu, of Uncle Dudu. We are all under his watchful eye. He lays his karakia upon us and in that moment we are a whole spirit, we are united and we are one. We are Ōpōtiki Mai Tawhiti.

Pomarie.

Contributor's Note

Ko Hikurangi Te maunga 
Ko Waiapu te awa 
Ko Horouta te waka 
Ko Hinerupe Te marae 
Ko Te Whanau a Hinerupe te hapu 
Ko Ngati Porou te iwi.

I love poetry and free writing because there is no right or wrong. No one can edit your imagination! I am currently in my second year of my bED at Te Whare Wanganga o Awanuiarangi. I have two beautiful children Hanaia -Bree (3) and Te Urutawa (2) who keep me on my toes every day. When I graduate I would love to teach children how to use their minds as tools and show that writing is more than a 20 minute subject taught at school. It can heal and you are not judged by what you write.

 

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