The Wahine storm 1968…

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The ferry Wahine, listing heavily amongst fog in Wellington Harbour, 10 April 1968.

Image: The Dominion Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library.

 

 

six poems celebrating the end of the mechanical and the dawn of the virtual

 

 

 

(i)

I was born the day

New Zealand was

but in England. It was

a terrible winter, but soon,

television.

 

 

(ii)

 

The ex-Royal Navy frigates

named after Scottish lochs

bought in 1948

we translated into

Tutira, Rotoiti, Hawea.

My father sailed for the new

world in 1949, leaving

us behind to follow. His ship

made land at Crete en route

to mihi to the dead.

 

(iii)

 

Later in the New Zealand Railways

we returned to the nineteenth

century: Ngahere, old Westland, timber

laden mill lokies creaking to the railway

yards. There was no television

but imaginary worlds.

 

 

(iv)

 

Memoir has a bunch of

issues: you half forget what

you’re making up. Coronation

Street in black and white with

static. Mum was back in a kind

of Liverpool but really it was

1968 and the Wahine Storm

outside.

 

 

(v).

 

Yes, that storm. I was there and remember

it from the television: black hulk, black night.

Later, in Australia, ploughing way

out in the sticks on nightshift, men

were walking on the moon. They

had computers. We did not know

about computers, kangaroos ghosting

through the tractor headlights.

 

 

(vi)

 

Lived through three kinds of

centuries: cell phone, laptop, online families. Came

all this way from anchor chains to

Facebook. Tomorrow will shimmer

like a line gone missing.

 

 

 

Jeffrey Paparoa Holman   2003-2017.

 

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About paparoa

Writer and researcher.
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