Ira Tangata, Ira Atua

As a child growing up I would stand on maunga that surrounded my whare and imagine I had the mana to control the elements – change the direction of the winds – declaring to Hineomairangi and Tāwhirimātea to heed to my words.

After my karanga I would listen for the tree to chatter, birds to sing, Tamanuiterā to come out behind the kapua to tell me I’m doing a great job or try harder. In those moments

I belonged and I began to manifest a mauri that was strong and real.

In writing below, it started as a poem, but then it grew. I started to connect Atua to each emotion. This process has allowed me to reclaim ngā kare a roto as powerful elemental forces beyond and connected to te tai ao. I explore how are Atua at play in our lives, the consequences of decisions made long ago and what impacts these decisions have for generations to come. I consider ‘decisions’ in terms of the relevance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi today. Its presence in our homes & even in our most intimate moments.

[Opening scene]

Hine: Yell a bit more, I can’t quite hear {Hinekeira}

Tāne: F**k off {Whiro}

Hine: The swearing doesn’t make me want to listen {Hinekeira}

Tāne: Always making it about you {Whiro}

Hine: I know you want to hurt me {Hinekeira}

Tāne: Yeah, and hurt people, hurt people {Rongomatāne}

Hine: Well, it’s working {Hinemoana}

Tāne: And healed people, heal people {Rongomaraeroa}

Tāne: You know you’re a welcome snowflake on my tongue {Tāwhirirangi}

Hine: Is that a complement to melt? {Hinemoana}

Tāne: It means you’re unique {Tānemahuta}

Mokopuna: be careful when you sign your moko to the treaty

Mokomokopuna: we didn’t own the paper or the pen then….and still don’t

Koro: remember moko don’t focus too much on the principles

Kuia: remember the preambles are more important


Tangaroa 1982 Cliff Whiting – Te Whānau-ā-Apanui

IRA TANGATA, IRA ATUA

[Second scene]

Tāne: Come for a ride on my rollercoaster…{Whiro}

Hine: I’ve been on it before {Hineomairangi}

Tāne: Turn around – puku in your mouth {Tawhirimatea}

Hine: Thanks for the invite, but no thanks {Hineomairangi}

Tāne: But YOU made me feel like this! {Whiro}

Hine: WTF I’m not your rehab {Hinekeira}

Tāne: I paid for your ticket and got you this far {Whiro}

Hine: Don’t go open a door if you don’t want a whare…..TANGATA! {Hinenuitepō}

Mokopuna: be careful when you sign your moko to the treaty

Mokomokopuna: we didn’t own the paper or the pen then….and still don’t

Koro: remember moko don’t focus too much on the principles

Kuia: remember the preambles are more important


Ngā Tipuna Kei Mua Ko Tatou Kei Muri, 1996 Robyn Kahukiwa 

IRA TANGATA, IRA ATUA

[Third scene]

Tāne: Am I a rangatahi to your rangatira-ness? {Rūaumoko}

Hine: No rangatira here bei {Mahuika}

Tāne: What do you mean? I don’t think I’ve met a rangatira? {Ranginui}

Hine: Well, the way they are described and written about it’s no wonder {Hineomairangi}

Tāne: It’s like a job description that we will never live up to {Tānemahuta}

Hine: Yeah, like they describe superpowers on Mars that don’t function on Earth or something {Papatūānuku}

Tāne: I’m trying to be a good rangatahi {Matariki}

Hine: I’m trying to be {Hinemarama}

Tāne: But we aren’t even part of a tira {Kiwa}

Hine: And no way off this planet a tīpuna of gravity grounding you {Hinepūtehue}

Tāne: Ariki collecting dragon balls like a foreign cartoon. Those fullas get it {Tūmatauenga}

Hine: To only leave a fingerprint on the glass {Hinepūkohurangi}

Tāne: Our unique tree trunk fingerprint {Tānemahuta}

Hine: But now we can no longer see it {Tawhirimatea}

Tāne: It’s now worn off from years of emotional labour {Tangaroa}

Mokopuna: Be careful when you sign your moko to the treaty

Mokomokopuna: We didn’t own the paper or the pen then….and still don’t

Koro: Remember moko don’t focus too much on the principles

Kuia: Remember the preambles are more important

Hine: We live for our mokopuna

Tāne: To be punaariki

Hine: Reflecting our tīpuna

Tāne: Ngā waipuna o ngā Ariki

Pare to My Place, 2017 John Walsh – Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti

Published by Tākuta Teah

Indigenous woman, partner, māmā, sister, daughter, aunty, artist, story catcher/teller, researcher, evaluator and academic. I draw on these identities to express, connect and articulate kotahitanga, mana motuhake and aroha.

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