Body by Pule 6: He Tohorā ano.

It was time to go back to Christine’s place for some repairs on the left arm, a couple of spots on the ngahere, the amazing forest John had designed. He had also suggested that perhaps a bare part on my right arm opposite the whale needed an image and I decided another tohorā would be be perfect, having them swim towards each other, linked by the circle of HMS Illustrious’ three crossed trumpets.


So I arrived as usual at 1pm, this time to the greetings of the tamariki, “Jeffrey’s here!”, which was really sweet – Tū came right up and gave me a hug, as did his sister. It was great to see Christine and her amazing whānau again, and to say hello to her Mum who was on driving duty for a trip to the dentist at Aranui for one of the kids.

We got into the familiar studio and I showed Christine what I would like to have done, so we had a karakia and began. First there was the drawing and then cleaning of the ink to get a clear line.


Then we got down to the needle again and the old sensation of nibbling fire ran onto my skin. We talked about the Nigel Latta programmes on alcohol and the one on family violence, and how good they were, how true to lives we had known.


The work progressed beautifully and soon it was time to do the finishing on the left arm, just a couple of places where the green had faded and some of the black needed a fresh layer of ink. We have to have my ngahere looking good for John to see when he comes down soon.


And then it was done, a short sweet session, where we once more went with the flow of the spirit, more kōrero this time as the iPod was out of action so no Whirimako Black to serenade us. We ended with a karakia and went to have some delicious pāua fritters (best ever) and sweet scones. Christine always ends a session with a kai. Her Mum arrived back with the dental bus run and we spent half an hour swapping stories of the wear and tear on our bodies in middle age and the evils of ACC. Special.


So once more I am in debt to this wonderful artist and her whānau for having me round to my house of tatau aroha. I went home that night and watched the magical Pauly Fuemana documentary on Māori TV, with images of John Pule talking about the life of his Niuean brother artist. You can see in the video Land of Plenty and some of John’s handiwork. Mauli ola!


About paparoa

Writer and researcher.
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