Thursday, March 11, 2010

Reading Out Loud

One of my strongest memories from this past summer is reading a Hone Tuwahre poem at Zoe and Nick's wedding. I suspect I had the honour as I was their oldest looking Maori friend. I enjoy reading out loud, it is a chance to unlease those creative juices somewhat and throw off some of the cloaks we are shrouded with...

The poem is called "Hmmmm" it is a love poem, with a strange mix of homely nostalgia and thirst for life. As I read it I was moving through a wrecked old farmhouse beside a river in South Otago, a landscape that Tuwhare called home.

Hmmmm ...

It is a house which requires
care in construction.

It has no walls thus permitting
expansion. The ceiling
is unlimited stretching to heaven.

It may endure given a chance
thats for sure: hmmmm ...

Because it is of earth, smelling
of earth, its foundation
may be built on sand.

It may be a house built on thin
wooden legs, steadfast, and
walking into a river swollen
suddenly by a cloud-burst:
or a house-boat chundered-out
and abandoned on a reef of mud.

But since there are no walls --or roof
to it, love may be seen as bars
of feeling - tones and colour, warm
cold, hot, grey and with lots
of blue, or just plain
shitty coloured!

Fleshed out though, the house of love
isn't shapeless. It has presence.
It has form - a brilliant arc
uniting heaven and earth: actually
love-thoughts seeking a new way
of expression: aha, aha aha
as horses pounding into the straight
riders snarling -- the anguish
of stretched leather smelling of sweat.

Late Summer in Wellington

The weather has been special this week, and there is nowhere on earth better than Wellington on a good day. Apart from 50 odd hours of work what have we managed to squeeze in...

Well first it was Karapoti, New Zealand's most famous bike race. 1000 people traversing the Akatarawa wilderness north of Wellington and then coming back again. Penny did great and had a big smile on her face at the end despite her dire predictions (I knew she was well and truly tough enough to enjoy it). My effort was not quite so good, breaking a chain after 5km, and completing the remaining 45km by scootering, free wheelin and pushing. I got to yarn to lots of people though, going past me.

That evening we camped with some friends at Kaitoke Regional Park, the home of Rivendell, lovely forests and copious camp spots. Its location so close to the suburbia of the Hutt is unusual, but it is a well managed and beautiful spot. And its close to the blueberry cafes of the Akatawawa valley where we brunched. They couldn't get eftpos so they gave us an iou, hears to that and pancakes.

Back into town and it was a couple of hot hours at the Newtown festivals with myriads of stalls and buskers. There is always something interesting to see in Newtown, but this was something else as were the samosas.

Then finally for the weekend a bit of opera. Clementine Lovell, a friend of a friend, we had heard her sing at their wedding, so were up for a trip over to historic Thorndon and the interesting venue of the "Moorings", which is an old ballroom/den/secret society ritual room, located at the back of an old villa, the bottom right bit of the following photo...

I have never really "got" Opera, but hearing it in the flesh is great, the distillation and magnification of emotion is intense, at times I felt the hairs standing up on the back of neck. And watch for Clementine Lovell, New Zealand's next international opera star?...

The working week started well, with Swing dancing to look forward to. We are following in the footsteps of our friends Penny and Nick. Check out this outrageous first dance from their wedding over summer, which we were honoured to attend on Waiheke Island.

It might take a while to reach quite that level...

Ah and then what else has happened, a 5km race and meetings on Tuesday, then an evening hanging around with an old friend Tom on Wednesday, checking out the local Tibetan solidarity movement and watching a film on the latest environment issues in Tibet, then an amusing time heckling at the Backbenchers political debate....its easy to keep busy!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


My Grandad passed away a couple of weeks ago. He's the one on the left below (I'm still lucky enough to have the old looking guy on the right ;-)).

He was an amazing man who rose from humble origins, growing up through the Depression to become a PHD, Professor and Knight, Principal of Lincoln College, a fine rugby player and most importantly a fantastic husband, father and grandparent. He achieved his goals with dignity, determination and a minimum of fuss. He leaves a big gap in our lives. A gap to hopefully be filled by memories, dreams and closer relationships within our remaining family.

At the funeral held in a packed Knox Church the family pulled through well with great speeches, poems and even Karanga (little sis) from the following generations. Nana asked me to read Psalm 121. This is a verse which I had never connected with previously but is now so special to me. The image I conjured in reading it was my Grandad as a young man, working the hill country of Putere behind Wairoa. A land burned and probably still metaphorically smouldering. A harsh land with little shade recently exposed to the sun. What shaped the young man during this time, what were his challenges and his hopes for the future?

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help
My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

The best online obituary I have found is here. An obituary written by Mike Crean was also published in the Press and Dominion Post on the weekend.

Rest peacefully Grandad, your journey was a marvellous one and we will look after Nana (when she is not looking after us).