The Friday Poem: ‘when does it start’ (in English and te reo) by Maraea Rakuraku

New verse by Maraea Rakuraku, taken from a new anthology in English and te reo (translated by Jamie Cowell).

 

when does it start?

It’s not waving a flag, holding a banner, knowing what postcolonial theory means and when to use it, memorising quotes and lining them up like soldiers that are sent out in waves of attacks,

It’s not being polite, remaining open, listening fairly, vigilantly assessing your motivation, re-writing your carefully worded response, marvelling how the person who has cornered you on-line, at a party, work do or rugby game is not hearing how every word they are saying is offensive and they may as well be slicing through your heart, with the intent-sity of a scythe clearing long grass,

It isn’t realising dressing up racist rhetoric in flash language is still just racist rhetoric in flash language and sniffing that out in the first, I’m not racist … but,

It isn’t recognising white privilege and entitlement, functioning under white privilege and entitlement, loving under white privilege and entitlement,

It doesn’t start with the huge fucking disappointment when a brown brotha is worse than the worst redneck you’ve encountered in your life,

It doesn’t start by standing up for your iwi, people, culture, colleague, son, daughter, lover, missus, Koro, Nan, cuzzie, animals, Papatūānuku, or even yourself,

 

It starts,

with that first step from the margins into the glare of light

and

opening

your

mouth,

 

that started

when the idea of you was born and took seed

that started

when the idea of you was born and took seed

that started

when the idea of you was born

that started

with the idea of you.

 

mō āhea tīmata ai? ka tīmata āwhea?

Ehara i te whakakakapa i te haki, i te pupuri ki te kara, i te mōhio ki te ariā pōhi koroniara me te wā e tika ana kia whakamahia, i te tuhi i ngā whakataukī ki te rae ka whakarārangi ai anō nei he hōia e tukuna putupututia ana ki te whawhai,

Ehara i te mānawanawa, i te noho areare, i te tōkeke o te whakarongo, i te mātai i ākinga ōu, i te whatatika i tō whakahoki kua āta tuhia, i te whakamīharo ki te tangata nāna koe i whakaiti i te ipurangi, i te pāti, i te kaupapa ā-mahi, i te kēmu whutupōro rānei me tana kore i rongo ki te hākiki o ia kupu āna, me e haehae ana i te ngākau, he rite tōna kaha ki te kotinga o te haira e whakawātea ana i te pātītī roa,

Ehara i te kitenga o te kōrero kaikiri kua whakareia ki te kupu whakaniko, me te mōhio tonu iho he kōrero kaikiri tonu kua whakareia ki te kupu whakaniko, ehara au i te kaikiri … heoi anō,

Ehara i te whakamārama i te huanga me te āheinga kiritea, e mahi ana i raro i te huanga me te āheinga kiritea, e aroha ana i raro i te huanga me te āheinga kiritea,

Kāore e tīmata i te mutunga kē mai o te matekiri i te mea he kino noa ake te tūngāne kiriparauri i te kakī whero tino kino rawa atu kua tūpono i roto i ō rā,

Kāore e tīmata i tō tū tautoko i tō iwi, i ō tāngata, i tō ahurea, i tō kaimahi, i tō tama, i tō kōtiro, i tō whaiāipo, i tō wahine, i tō koro, i tō kuia, i tō whanaunga, i ō mōkai, i a Papatūānuku, i a koe anō hoki,

 

Ka tīmata,

i te tapuwae tuatahi i te paenga ki te kōnakonako o te tūrama

me te

hāmama

o tōu

waha,

 

i tīmata tērā

i te tinakutanga me te tupu o te whakaaro ki a koe

i tīmata

i te tinakutanga me te tupu o te whakaaro ki a koe

i tīmata

i te tinakutanga o te whakaaro ki a koe

i tīmata

i te whakaaro ki a koe.

 


From Tātai Whetū: Seven Māori Women Poets in Translation edited by Maraea Rakuraku and Vana Manasiadis (Seraph Press, $20). The book is launched at the New Zealand Festival in Wellington this Sunday at 2pm, and will be available at Unity Books.

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