I was dreaming of Te Rauparaha.

Dreaming of Te Rauparaha

I was dreaming of Te Rauparaha:
we were drinking in his favourite bar
in the old Thistle Inn
on the shores of Wellington –
he was knocking back a glass of rum
telling me of Kingdom Come
moko on his nose and chin
on the shores of Wellington –
he said, “e hoa, te Pākehā –
you know this was Te Aro Pā, the pā
was under where we are!”
He took another slug of rum
and gazed at the sea where danger
comes, where warriors when he was young
would haka, kill and sing their songs.
He stood there in his sailor’s coat
this mighty chief from up the coast
and mists of Kapiti I saw that gathered
in those ancient eyes. “E Pākehā!
He rama mōu, he rama tāku, kei te pai!”
& in that boozy eye I saw the worlds
come swaying where he was, the days
go spinning down to earth, where he lay
beached like a great canoe, a rotting waka
tawhito that took him once where he would go
to kill and conquer, trick and trap, the dreams
beneath his sailor’s cap, the old dried blood
all turned to sand. I was dreaming
of Te Rauparaha, drinking with me
in his favourite bar, the Thistle Inn
in Wellington, where it stands today
and dreams of him.

Jeffrey Paparoa Holman


About paparoa

Writer and researcher.
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8 Responses to I was dreaming of Te Rauparaha.

  1. Great poem! I often find myself in the Thistle and I often think of Te Rauparaha while I’m there, paddling up in his waka, as the story goes.

  2. Tim Jones says:

    I had a similar reaction to Janis: not only is this an excellent poem, but each time I go to the NZ Poetry Society meetings at the Thistle Inn, I will think of it.

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  4. S.L. Corsua says:

    I ‘feel’ the place, the locale, in this poem. In each and every word I do not know the meaning of, but as to which I nevertheless take such delight in the sound.

    I especially liked the beat in the lines “to kill and conquer, trick and trap, the dreams / beneath his sailor’s cap” — when the pause is after ‘trap,’ the two lines sound like a riddle. 🙂 Cheers.

  5. I love this poem! The warp and weave, the rhythm and rhyme of it. Brings Robert Louis Stevenson to mind for me. I heard you read this last Friday at XCHC, and wanted to ask you which collection it was in and buy a copy. You were deep in conversation after your reading, and I’ve just found it here online, but still…which collection of poetry is it in, so I can buy a copy?

    • paparoa says:

      Hi Ronnie
      Really glad you like the poem, the pub is still there if you’re ever in Wellington.
      The poem is in my latest selected poems, Blood Ties and it should be available from Scorpio Books in Hereford Street, or UBS out at Uni.
      Let me know if you have trouble getting one.
      My phone for texts:
      021 183 9833.

      Cheers Jeffrey

  6. Pingback: Poetry and Craft | Ronnie Smart

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