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BooksSeptember 7, 2018

The Friday Poem: ‘Kei te whakaako au i taku kurī/I am teaching my dog Māori’ by Jeffrey Paparoa Holman

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Getty Images

New verse by Christchurch writer Jeffrey Paparoa Holman.

 

Kei te whakaako au i taku kurī/I am teaching my dog Māori

 

 

I am teaching my dog Māori.

Nobody will object

outside the supermarket

 

when I tie Tiaki to the bike stand

and bark, “E noho!”

tenderly.

 

“Enoho, what a lovely name!”

one will say; then another,

“What’s wrong with Jack?

 

It’s a Jack Russell, isn’t it?”

“Āe, tika tāu, ko Tiaki te ingoa!”

I’ll reply, carefully

 

so as not to offend.

You can’t be too careful

when speaking Dog

 

to careless ears. On

windy days out on the park,

I’ll toss Tiaki tennis

 

balls, call, “Mauria mai e te kurī,

kia tere!” Cricketers in white

will cheer, “Oh my Dog, did

 

you hear that? That wee Jack Russell,

speaking Māori?” Tiaki cocks

an ear, then cocks a leg.

 

Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, 2018


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