06 June 2011

The Hill With The Split Lip

Most times we go to Pukawa we pass through the historic battle site of Orakau where, in 1864, one of the last battles (between 3000 Pakeha troops and 300 Maori) took place.  The Maori were given the chance of letting the women and children pass through the cordon.  Rewi Maniopoto is said to have cried that the men would fight forever - Ake, Ake.  Ahumai, sister of one of the defenders at Orakau cried out that if the men were to die the women and children would die with them.  Some escaped but 160 warriors were buried at Orakau.  Ahumai received bullet wounds to the chest, shoulder and wrist and had her thumb shot off while helping to reload the muskets and giving water to the wounded.  She died 40 years later at Mokai on the shores of Lake Taupo.

Orakau 1864
This Good Friday
we climbed Tihia
not Calvary
yesterday our road
thoughtlessly bisected
the battlesite of Orakau
where red and green coats
Ahumai Te Paerata
breached the palisades
where some gave the bayonet
and others water
it is remembered.
Ahumai survived
scarred for forty years
        we will fight
        today, ake, ake
        the inevitability
        of change and death
the hill with the split lip
is silent
only water gushes
from its side.

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