Saturday, October 9, 2021

Once upon a time on the East Coast

I came across this wonderful piece of bush poetry by East Coast farmer Graeme Williams and asked his permission to publish it. It recalls a distant time that may come to be known as the BIP (Before Identity Politics) Era. I have left the punctuation as it is – that is to say, non-existent – so as not to detract from its rough and raw charm.

 Dear Aunty Jacinda

  I need to write to you again

Because this ridiculous Three Waters nonsense

  needs rapidly flushing down the drain

I was born and raised in Tokomaru Bay

  and for that reason luckier than most

I think that you and the rest of the country

  should behave as we do on the Coast


You see when I was at primary school

And  it’s only now I stop to think

That all my mates had brownish skin

  and only two of us had pink

Freckles I had plenty of

   and copped a bit of flak

I learnt that when you cop some flak

  you simply throw it back


Nothing was a problem

  cause we thought we were the same

It mattered not our heritage

  or from where or how we came

We lived a rich and happy life

  the envy I suggest of most

A mutual respect by unity

  that is synonymous with the Coast


Our forefathers worked the land together

  having cleared it from the bush

They also toiled in the trenches together

  when shove it came to push

In every way in every respect

  they were equally brothers in arms

Whether it was at Gallipoli

  on the rugby field or farms


I took a stand at Ihungia*

  the year was 1979

An 8-stand gang of Ju Maraki’s

  the only pinkish skin was mine

I was treated as an equal

  after all it’s all we knew

A pity the rest of the country

  do not do what coasters do


5  till  5  the daily runs

  there were tens of thousands to be shorn

My contribution was minimal

  but no criticism there was borne

Legend Frankie Wharehinga

  one of the most gracious men you’d meet

Shearing right beside me

   500, consistently and neat


A beer together at knock off time

  it was always Lion Red

Heaps of fun and laughter

  to the quarters from  the shed

Showers were by hierarchy

  despite it being an English tank

We were in a gang together

  but we never preceded Frank


You see the water belonged to all of us

  and equally we did rely

Ownership’s a crock of shit

  when its falling from the sky

We’re all in the same shower together

  and of that we should be proud

The shower belongs to all of us

When she’s falling from the cloud


Ihungia’s now in carbon credits

  and that’s a bigger crock of shit

For when it comes to logic

  There’s not even a teenie weenie bit

Perhaps Aunty Jacinda

  you could explain to me just why

How a German owning a Kiwi tree

  can pump endless crap into the sky.


I worry about the future

  for our grandies and tiny totters

With the illogic, logic of carbon credits

  and the bureaucracy of 3 “whaters”

“whater” we going to do about it

  “whater” we going to say

“whater” we going to do in the shit

  when sure will come the day


I return you back to Ihungia

  an iconic station before the trees

Beef and lamb and orchards

  with honey birds and bees

I think of all our forebears

  and the ilk of those like Frank

Logic says,  3 “whaters” and carbon credits

  best put in a septic tank.

*Ihungia: one of the last great sheep and cattle stations on the East Coast, now planted in forestry and overseas-owned.



Andy Espersen said...

That says it all.

Doug Longmire said...

Thumbs up !!!! Quadruple !!!

Ian P said...

Shear poetry

Trev1 said...

Very sad indeed. A madness has descended on the country.

Unknown said...

Just brilliant, poignant, heart-felt words. And very sad truth.

Terry M said...

Love it.

Terry M said...

.Trev." A madness has descended on the country."
Careful she's the PM.

Unknown said...

Karl I have been working on a video about the decolonisation of Christchurch and so I hunt for (preferably) someone saying something.
Dalziel says Ngai tahu are the soul of the city (is she serious?).
You have the Cera Act which gave Ngai tahu equal power in decision making; I have Julia Whapooti saying that was done by stealth (she uses stealth 3 times).
I have a woman from ChristchurchNZ telling we bus drivers how to present Christchurch in a way that excludes it’s mass of settlers and then telling us that Victoria Square was the Ngai tau, Ngati momoe, Waitaha “market place – if you like” and we tend to think of Christchurch in it’s European history – it’s not. It wa as far as you could come up the tide...It’s just that we centered Chc in the square instead of where it had been”
I have Professor H from Lincoln (planning professor) saying “this is the 3rd phase of the city “and “this place teemed with Ngai tahu”.
I have Kathy Davidson’s archeology blog where despite “keeping her eyes peeled” they only found European artefacts.
I have Katie Pickles talking about Butler and her eyes glazing when she talks about Maori and landscape (what a mess that settlement was).
I have a vice chancellor talking about Hamilton statues. She groups the farming family with the ‘racist statues”. She doesn’t come outright and say it but by implication.
I’m trying to get to the need to rename.
I read a review (have it somewhere) where Simone Drichell discusses a book that describes the “imperial project” which casts it’s gaze on foreign peoples.
Last night I found

It is about the politics of naming. They do a discourse analysis of objections to the geographic board changing Murderers Bay to ____. What you find though is critque ( dissing) of the European argument with an implied assumption that this is the correct thing to do (except for those Colonel Blimp types).

So you are always following a mirage which doesn’t get to that underlying motivation and I woke up this morning thinking that is a type of vandalism.

Then you get the motivatedness of some people. On Pete George blog there was a non-Maori leftist type who, when it was suggested that we have 50:50 Maori/Pakeha representation was over the moon at the idea. Or the “child” behind having a national holiday for the NZ Wars. Her parents were activists from way back and she had wanted to be Maori. Scott Hamilton is the classic example.

So it is hard to make a case when it may even be religion. I had a friend who was a Bahai and when he explained it I’m thinking “how would that make me want to be a Bahai?”.

So I’m still working on it.

In the meantime the Tablet has interesting articles and I have one go at this but have to go over it again
The Open Society and Its Prophets

Zoroforever said...

Great poem, lot of good old country common sense there. I think this guy was on Country Calendar 2-3 years ago. He and his wife sleep out on the verandah during the summer.

Bryan Flanagan said...

That's a great and relevent poem thanks. The answer to the carbon farming problem seems simple. Act and National need to loudly and firmly state that next time they are in power they will ban carbon farming without compensation.

Eamon Sloan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andy Espersen said...

Unknown – I came to this in your piece : “So you are always following a mirage which doesn’t get to that underlying motivation and I woke up this morning thinking that is a type of vandalism”. You are right. That is exactly what Auntie Jacinda and her naive crowd are doing to New Zealand at this very moment : They are vandalising. They are ploughing down, riding roughshod over so many of our old established institutions, our ways of thinking, our established culture, our beloved cities with their accepted history, our place names that are an integral part of our lives, et cetera, et cetera. And as underlying motivation we have only their flim-flam, fancy notions - a mirage, as you put it so very aptly.

I would be interested to see your planned video on decolonisation – and let us see it on You Tube. This is where intelligent, critical minds like yours must now flourish – as a well as on blogs like Karl’s. The printed media has had it. I would like to see them all go bankrupt and disappear.

Unknown said...

Cindy you are trying to convince the people of NZ that history has changed. Time for you to get married and leave politics before you ruin this country so much that even you won’t want to live here

Unknown said...

Jacinda has a program to work to and is masterful at shutting down decent. The newspapers in New Zealand are not worth the paper they are printed on. The editors are so happy to have a pot to dip into and they will not print any article that criticises the Labour Government, its members or its leaders. Don't expect the newspapers to run critical stories about Labour but stories that discredit the opposition will be published with vigour, fact or fancy. It is not easy to distinguish which stories are true, and who knows what stories have been withheld
Today, I received a flyer from the New Zealand Herald offering the NZ Herald for 5 weeks free of charge, this is an indication of the sorry state of their circulation. I would prefer to see the circulation drop to rock bottom. Maybe to increase circulation they could change the name to the “Labour Herald”. I can no longer trust their articles as long as they have Jacinda's honey pot.

CharlesJ said...

Great poem and thanks for sharing. Not exactly sure the Mahia counts as East Coast, but from a Mahia expat on the other side of the world, this was my childhood and better then than now.