I am not from this place. I came from elsewhere, drawn to some vague definition of "responsibility", but also an unexplained deep urge within that called to me. As a young boy my grandfather gave me a huge hard covered book of Life Magazine photos and snippets of the world from the 1950's. There was one photo that always stirred something within me, it was a photo of New Zealand, so beautiful and so calling. The place that photo was "taken" is not so very far from where I write these words. There was also a comfort in the photo and accompanying caption that this was a very English world, so they spoke, more or less, like me, and thought, more or less, like me. I was only 8.
When I came here, I discovered a place, in the above photo, that held true all the things I felt as a kid back in Green Bay, Wisconsin. But what has become also true, is that this is not my place. The land, the earth herself (Papatuanuku) has a hold on me and an ancient connection I am still struggling to understand, but the place, the original human inhabitants of this place, were not me, or of me. The mountains above which I love and honour were traversed and used by Maori, the original people, and most peaks, features, and rivers reflect that truth. It does not demean or lessen what I am finding in these mountains, the Ruahine, it only enhances us all. Why is that so difficult for so many people to acknowledge? So for me, a white immigrant to a far away land which I love, New Zealand has become Aotearoa.
"On the porch at Maropea Forks" - July 2002
The rain patters on the tin roof
drumming her song, the endless symphony
of the river joins the chorous
These echoes have called me often
So I Listen
to this ancient music once again
The fear I have felt in my solitude is real
This is a Path filled with potentail woe
Yet here I am in the bosom
of this place
I am Home