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Monday, November 07, 2011

Room 'A' to base 10 exp 101.00


     "The gashed elephant face 

             of Maungarei."                                   


"The gashed elephant face of Maungarei."


                                           Victor walks like Van Gogh toward the
macrocarpa trees which are not native.

The water reservoir on Mt Maungerei


                                    Every Poem is a Door

Unusual. I am awake, at 6.30.
Birds, birds. Outside,
Someone going to “work”. 
At 40 plus

I’m one of the 200,000. What
Am I doing reading, correction,
Puzzling over Robert Sullivan’s
Poems at 6.30 into sentience?

What’s that mean? – ah – “eclectic”,
Oh yes, of course! That was a good poem.
But –something’s unclear – everyone’s
Different…if I had a book of poems

I would cunningly insert some
Subtle (Smithymanic?) puzzle poems,
Disguised with guises.
But then, I don’t understand

Half of my own poems. Touche!
The booze did it last night –
Knocked me out. Then 2 paracetemols
And I wake early, and read Robert

And puzzle over poems…
These teasing tormenting riddling damning things!
But then, say the riddles ran away,
And the stories of  granddads
Because they all died of cancer

Or they stopped telling the children?

Say it was easy. The challenges would go and…

Who’d enchant our children
With funny learning tales?
Ah, these endless conundrums
Lizards after lizards…

Words. Words. Protect us from the night.

I listen to wakings
A train is somewhere.
People going to slavage?
Trains haunt me –

Drag me back.
We kids ran madly
To see the engine –soot and steam – cylindrical:
A black monster – always we nearly missed  it…

Why is? What was that thing?    That
Being I was. And my brother, and my sisters
Screaming after a train
In the long ago time of stories

And when a Policeman

Found me crying in Queen Street, lost in the crowd?
And what’s the moments of the fragments
Of  the  bits of me –
Got to do with me –

Reaching into another man’s poems
About Mangere and kids on the street
I sometimes don’t give a damn about.
(I know I should.) I’m better now…

How will I start, how shall I write this allusive,
Wriggling thing? This complex
Of deep thoughts of us All
And the jazz of the sexy real, or the music of the musical people?

Must write of chewing gum pavements and electric legends…
I live out here, by Mount Maungarei.
He’s not a lazy mountain.
But Robert, I once wrote –

“The gashed face
Of the elephant head of Mt Maungarei.”
Wasn’t I clever!
Every poem is a door –
Getting lostin your rooms was exciting.
Kia ora brother,
Kia ora.

RT.  Written the morning after the launch of “Jazz Waiata” by Robert Sullivan.

22 November 1990. 


Mt Maungarei,

Mt Wellington has a “gashed face” as Winstones wanted to quarry it away completely but were stopped in the 40s by the local people protesting to the Mt Wellington Council. The cliff (overgrown now since my days of running up it in the 50s (playing at “war”, has been overgrown: so not many people realize this - or that it was a major pah site for Maori  pre the European invasion here. Or that there was another mountain to the north of  Mt. Maungarei which WAS destroyed completely by quarrying.

[Also, this area incorporated Camp Bunn, built by the U.S. Army during the Pacific War against the Japanese fascists. Here, during the war, there was the largest ammunition dump
almost of that whole war.

Later the buildings (with corrugated fibrelite roofs) were used as store houses. They are still here. In the 50s as boy I went to the movies (the 'flicks' we called them) at Oakley Brown's picture theatre (it burnt down ca 1962 or so as he initially used the inflammable film) and he started again in Queens Road, Panmure where we saw a film each Saturday (sometimes also Sunday) for years. 'Hop a  Long Cassidy'  and other Cowboy Movies, The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, Disney Cartoons of all kinds and much else.]

On  the land around extensive cultivation took place as the land here and in Mangere is very fertile, being volcanic. So this isthmus, Auckland (Akarana) or Tamaki Makau Rau was highly valued by Maori. Later in the 1820s before the Pakeha-Maori wars, Hongi Hika, the great Ngapuhi general who had been to England and even studied military books and as and Roman warfare etc and acquired numerous muskets,  attacked the Mokioa Pah which is only about 1 kilometre from Maungarei, with devastating results to local Maori who lacked sufficient guns but fought back with great bravery in battle whose outcome was by no means certain. (At one stage Hongi Hika considered retiring from the battle altogether.)

Reference to this and other matters is in such books as Maungarei by Holloway Cannibal Jack by Trevor Bentley. Link to the latter here -  

In Maungarei, a book by Mrs Holloway* (once head mistress at my old school of Tamaki College who took an interest in local history and even did excavations on Maungarei.)

The NZ poet Kendrick Smithyman was greatly interested in all aspects of NZ history but also in Pakeha-Maori, and he wrote a poem re Jacky Marmon. Scott Hamilton in his own books and on his Blog "Reading the Maps" (his blog is named after the title of a major poem by Smithyman.) has rightly celebrated and promoted the work of that enormously creative and indefatigable poet (Surely one of the most original and most inventive writers of the 20th Century in any country.) Reading the Maps (the poem and Scott's Blog) are essential to understanding NZ culture, politics and history.) Possibly only Yeats, Joyce, Gertrude Stein, 
T. S. Eliot and  such as Geoffrey Hill can be considered his equal as a writer.)

I lived in the area in the 50s. [I do so now also as I came back here in 1990.] In 1966 I got job testing roading materials etc at Bitumix which is or was joint Company of Winstones. We children played around this area a lot.

The cliff fascinated us as children . As did the abandoned buildings of Camp Bunn etc built by the US military in WWII, where they had one of the biggest ammunition stores in the whole of the Pacific war.] We used to run up the south side of Maungarei imagine we were fighting WWII  I later was deeply impressed that this area might have been “wild” and covered with quite some bush ( remember that huge areas of native bush have been destroyed in NZ.) Many native birds were killed and predators introduced by sadistic pakeha in an attempt to eradicate anything “indigenous” including humans. It was all but the Nazi process of genocide. It was a Holocaust. Kauri was mercilessly culled and used for timber by profiteers. Auckland was bought for a pittance and then in few years for an enormous profit. This process of taking land by force or by legal pettifogging etc was repeated throughout NZ and left Maori impoverished, and many Europeans hoped they would die out. But Maori had run shipping businesses, flax making ventures and cultivated big areas of say the Waikato. They supplied settlers with food but were eventually attacked driven off these rich lands which were exploited by greedy profiteers and cynical farmers.

My uncle and my father came from England (London). My uncle became a research scientist at Mt Albert with the DSIR, his area was plant disease. He assisted Chinese market gardeners in Mangere and in Panmure. He was a nice enough fellow but like my father believed strongly in certain hierarchies and in fact both always supported the National Government. My uncle in fact managed a very large and prosperous Chemical Company.

But both regretted the loss of bush and the acquisition and destruction of land birds and trees etc; having come from England with its intensive urbanization.

Mangere (Robert Sullivans’s old home place) is a similar suburb of Auckland which has about 50 relatively young volcanoes on it. Rangitoto is the”youngest” (erupted about 400 years ago or so.)

* Her husband ran the Holloway Press of Auckland University.





Anonymous said...

And visually interesting.

Richard said...

Thank you, anon.