Winders and the Wharfies




While Winders sits upon his arse
and wharfies toil in weathers
the million dollar ruling class
won’t lift a fucking finger

to give the raise the union says
is piffling when you reckon
sixteen percent of Winders cut’s
a cool six hundred thousand.

Just think of that, this fat fat cat
who purrs while still presiding
on navvies offered two per cent
of bugger-all of nothing.

Of such obscene and galling
stuff the poor must swallow
daily, the heart of revolutions
once, perhaps tomorrow, maybe.

How can he sleep, this Winders
man, if man we still can call him,
when he’s content to fill his nest
and watch his workers struggle?

What did we do, how did we come
to such a gross deception,
when acronyms like CEO
entitle men to mansions?

The parable of Lazarus
I offer now to Winders
that while he’s on this side
of death, a judgment fast

approaching, he gives a share
that’s equal, fair, to men
who make his living, those
wharfies’ backs he’s riding.


Jeffrey Paparoa Holman

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Stukas – for Terry Eagleton

Stukas       (for Terry Eagleton)

Stuka poem

The day we fall in love

with the Stukas of experience

dawns fine: out of a refugee


run sky, the crosses fall.

You bear yourself along

the road with all you


own at noon. The sun seems

somehow German, as the moon

was French last night.


The hour we meet in person

the fascists of conviction

can’t be told: they’ll trial


their new-made weapons on

your ground (they sense a hole

your Fuhrer wants to hide).


In the meantime, it is both

inadvisable and not worth

the candle to avoid what


waits: you just can’t buy

what falls from your personal

sky in the swastika shape.


@ Jeffrey Paparoa Holman   2006



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Night Patrol with Hari.

Baby patrol: alarm at 1am for pee time.

Back to bed, pup in cage.

5am, alarm: Bob Dylan track, Pay in Blood blast outta my phone.

Up and attem.

Mako is in lounge but jumps out window when I turn light on and he hears doggie squeaking, “Daddy!”.

Hari out to pee, brrr!!

Time to get up, feed pup, cat comes back, feed cat, lie down on couch at 5.30am with puppy snuggles and wait for Jeanette to get up and fetch paper.

No, Hari is not there yet.

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Dog Whistle Simon goes for his gun.


Dog Whistle Simon goes for his gun

15-3-2019 –

The blood of the martyrs lies in the ground

that Bridges tramples upon.

 Dogwhistle Simon rallies the Gnats

with the lies of a NeoCon.

Dogwhistle Bridges

hungry for power.

Dogwhistle Bridges

Man of the hour.

The blood of the martyrs cries from the ground

and here comes a man with a gun.



Bridges Ngata.png

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Planting seeds

Summer high is always

in your ripe flesh

a taste of wild and sugar.

You set my body

clock for a full season

bite on bite. Why this is

alone my body knows, eyes

that greedy saw you

grow from flower to bud

to now. Last year

saved twenty seeds

inside their husks

that yesterday I took

a hammer to. You

did not give your secrets

with no fight. Will

any of the dozen

in this seed tray

bloom? The tree is old

and coming close

to die. The tree is

brother, sister and

even, yes, near

God. I know for sure

each bite I take

that Eve ate nectarine.

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Not just a black dog

Mako rests

Mako at rest on me


I’ve just finished reading on The Spinoff  Tusiata Avia’s poem, ‘Massacre”, her response to the mass murder of Muslim worshipers here in Christchurch on 15 March. Anyone who knows her work would not be surprised at the force of its attack on white racists: that is, all of us beneficiaries of historical institutional racism, through an accident of birth. As the flame thrower of her controlled anger burns me line by line, I’m reminded of the things I’ve just read in a discussion document on racism, sent to me by a close family member.

“Most white people do not talk about racism, do not recognise the existence of institutional racism, and feel personally threatened by the mention of racism”, writes Christine Sleeter. “There is no comfort zone for white people when it comes to discussing white racism. Being uncomfortable is the price we must pay”, agrees Alice McIntyre. She continues, “There is a tendency to locate racism within the individual and not think institutionally or culturally about racism”.

Living and working in London during the 1990s woke me up to racism and my own part in it, and it has made me uncomfortable ever since. But I have remained white and privileged by that whiteness, no matter what I’ve tried to do to escape from racism’s web of deceit. There always remains, however hard we work to remove it, an underlying sense that we have no race and no colour, that we are the norm, the mirror into which all non-white people must look and see that they are not us.

This may not be true in those countries, those parts of the world where whiteness is not normative (most of Africa, or China, and many other regions where whites are either visitors, tourists, or a settler minority), but for a high percentage of the world’s population – even if only mirrored against whiteness by the global white media – cultural and institutional racism is as normal as the sunshine, the rain, the wind, the air we all breathe.

My own problems, my issues then, are always seen in a context: no matter how dire, or how trivial my stresses and my struggles, it is always going to take place in the reality of my whiteness: better access to health care than many Māori and  Pasifika; less likelihood to be stopped and searched by police, than are people of colour; more likely to have representation when arrested; less like to be imprisoned; better job prospects and a longer life expectancy. That’s me. You too, if you are white.

I’m not making this up; these are statistics you can go and find online, if you care to. The question is, why? How – in the context of Tusiata’s poem, which you can read here – did such a massacre occur in our midst, if “they” truly are “us”? It happened to them, not us didn’t it? Was the shooter one of us, after all that? He hid among us, no-one questioned what he was doing, he was invisible except on social media, until he struck.

The Friday Poem: ‘Massacre’ by Tusiata Avia

I’m struggling with all this.  I go to the Linwood Masjid on Fridays when I can, and pray with the believers, but it all feels too little, too late. The report in today’s Press – on the condition of Sazada Akhter, a 25-year old Bangladeshi woman still lying in hospital, shot in the chest and abdomen as she ran, lungs, liver and kidneys critically damaged, unlikely to ever walk again, who says, “I don’t know how I can go on” – puts it all in relief.

Somebody decided she was not one of us; now one of us has just been sentenced to 21 months in jail for applauding this atrocity and distributing the gunman’s video.  This greeted me after a freezing winter’s morning as I forced myself to get up and resist the black dog that’s been hunting me since I left the university scene after twenty years of having an external identity and came home to be a house sparrow, one who has found it hard to concentrate on much, with all the institutional scaffolding removed.

I came home from a bicycle ride out there with my wife this morning, and left my bike at the gate while I went inside and turned off the alarm. As the cat greeted me and I stepped out the back door, the frost was melting on the roof of the verandah, streams of melted droplets patterning the deck. Suddenly, I was sixteen, back at the sawmill near Redjacks on the Coast, the valley frost on the roof turned to streams of water by a rising sun striking the roofing iron, icy fingers dripping over you, down your neck, as you ran the winch or revved the chainsaw.

As I walked down the drive to open the gates and get my bike, I thought of Proust, his aunt’s madeleine dipped into a cup of tisane, of memories loosened within by sensations. Having opened the gates, it was only when I was halfway back up the drive, I realised I’d left the bike behind. In the second year into my seventies, in a flick of reality, I can fly back from June 2019 to June 1965 and in the same breath, forget what I actually walked outside to do.

This is my brain reprogramming me; a new life with a black and white cat as companion, a black dog of sadness at my heels. But whatever it is, it all pales and evaporates, morning frost under the sun, as what has happened here in Christchurch rises up within me to dismantle the crumbling remains of my whiteness.



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Friday Prayers Linwood Masjid

Friday Prayers

Friday Prayers, Linwood Mosque, 31 April 2019. Image: Iain McGregor/Stuff.

A week ago I took up Muhammad’s invitation and went to Friday prayers at the Linwood Mosque. There was a small group of Christian women at the gate, also come in support, but unable to take part. There was as yet no completed space for the women to worship, so it was an all-male assembly. The women’s worship space is being refitted and security cameras fitted on the building.

Outside, as I waited for somebody to show me the way in, more and more worshipers arrived to take part, come to fulfill their need and their obligation, to begin again their life of faith so cruelly shattered by the events of that terrible day on 15 March a few short weeks ago, an eternity away, yet present in every inward tremor of PTSD.

Muhammad came over and we greeted each other; he took me inside and sat with me at the rear of the worship space. Once again, I was struck by how small it was, yet as more came and found room, bowed down, sat and waited for the Imam to begin his sermon, it seemed to expand to surround the brothers.

Imam Abdul Lateef in his long white gown and tiny cap stood before us and began to address the faithful. His flow of Arabic and English – heavily accented from his African heritage language – made it almost impossible for me to glean anything of substance, but I listened and concentrated on him, and the believers to whom he was addressing his thoughts. People kept coming.


He began touching his ears, his eyes and his lips, and as he did so, his English became clear enough for me to grasp what I took to be the heart of his sermon: open your eyes to those around you, open your ears to what others are saying and restrain your own inclination to hasty words. It seemed to be a call to empathy. This from a man who had on the day of the attack looked death in the face and stood up to the terrorist.

Then he was finished and a brother stood and called us to prayer. As all those around me prostrated themselves, I followed suit. Prayer is part of my life and while it felt strange at first, coming from a prayer culture in Christian churches that is far less demanding of the body, it felt good. It felt right. With Muhammad beside me, afterwards helping me back to my feet, I had joined them.

I had not become a Muslim, but I had reaffirmed my unity with fellow sojourners in this world. It’s not so hard. It takes a bit of getting over yourself and leaving all your prejudices at the door. In the light of what has happened in our midst, the question remains: did it happen just to them, the Muslim whānau in our midst, or did it happen to us all? If the latter, then what does that mean for our city, for the body of humanity in this space? How should we live henceforth?

Going back out to the road, I saw my police officer friend from Whangaparaoa, met on my first visit, and greeted her. “How are they doing in there, do you think?”, she asked. I didn’t know how to reply, but tried to reassure her that they were doing their best to stand fast and move on. One man I met was a Rohingya Muslim, an escapee from the genocide of his people in Burma, and the refugee camps of Bangladesh. What can you say? He thought he was safe here – and now, what does he think, how must he feel?

I farewelled my favourite cop with a simple, “Kia pai tō rā – have a great day” – and she grinned at me again, “I love your reo”. It’s not that hard to reach across gaps, when you see what’s on the other side. “Ramadan mubarak”, blessed Ramadan, my friends. You will need it.

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