Image: SOUL
Image: SOUL

BooksAugust 2, 2019

The Friday Poem: Ihumātao by Donna McLeod

Image: SOUL
Image: SOUL

A new poem by Motueka writer and performer Donna McLeod.


Our first born
is holding the blue line.
Blessed by mana whenua kaumātua, Kīngitanga,
an eviction notice is served.
Houses can be built on confiscated
land, deals have been struck.
Our first born
is their visual might.

Our first born
is still holding the blue line
after the important people have left.
Those left holding space have woken.
They too form a line.
Kanohi ki te kanohi.
Our first born
is their pou.

Our first born
is holding the blue line,
standing fifteen hours,
no kaumātua, no karakia.
We karakia.
We hold him.
Our first born
is our heart.

Our first born
is holding the blue line
with Māori, with Pasifika
full-face challenges of kūpapa, told he isn’t
Māori, whakaiti of whakapapa, lectured
on the Treaty. They stand as pou.
Our first born.
Puku stirs.

Our first born
is holding the blue line.
He tells his cousin, who stands before him,
he is proud of her and to be safe.
He texts his sister, as she gathers koha,
to dress warmly and bring him pizza.
Our first born
upholds our uri.

Our first born
is holding the blue line.
He carries maunga, waters, whenua, whānau,
grew up knowing
he was born holding te Tiriti.
He stands as Māori.
Our first born

Our first born
is holding the blue line.
He is a child of Parihaka.
His blood runs with passive resistance.
He is a child of warriors
and men of God.
Our first born.
E tū, Tama.

Donna McLeod (Te Āti Awa) lives on papakainga in Motueka but is at Ihumātao on the day of the publication of her poem in The Spinoff. She is a writer and performer of Te Ora Haa and a member of Te Ohu Whakaari. She is published in Headlands: New Stories of Anxiety (VUP, 2018) and Eastbourne: An Anthology (Mākaro Press, 2013).

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