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Te Rauparaha

Waves lick at the rocks, you feel the wind bite
canoes full of ghosts stroke over the sea
Te Rauparaha’s back on the island tonight.

The tohunga said the omens are right
the full moon of autumn reddens the beach
waves lick at the rocks. You feel the wind bite

like a taniwha. Tribes are meeting to fight
for control of the coastline at Kapiti –
Te Rauparaha’s back. On the island tonight

his woman is waiting, hidden from sight
in the cave on the headland. Just out of reach
waves lick at the rocks; you feel the wind bite

at the trees. Her face in dim fire light
flickers with shadows; the future she reads
Te Rauparaha’s. Back on the island tonight

he’ll feast on the fallen, wairua his right
ruling the tribes of Paekakariki.
Waves lick at the rocks, you feel the wind bite
Te Rauparaha’s back on the island tonight.

Te Rauparaha –  1760 – 1849 Maori chief, war leader of Ngati Toa tribe, known as the Napoleon of the Pacific
tohunga – spiritual advisor to tribes
taniwha – mythical protective guardian of place
Kapiti – an island off the west coast of New Zealand; controlled the sea lanes
Paekakariki – settlement on the coast opposite Kapiti
wairua – spirit, the old practise of eating those killed in battle to gain their powers
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