Te Whanganui-a-Tara | Windy Wellington

Te Whanganui-a-Tara | Windy Wellington


I miss the sad wind blowing,

With cool indifference as it whips

Pasted concert fliers off the weather beaten walls

Of a seaside fish and chips.


I miss the local people,

Who like the seaside flaxes

Are sharp and quiver with determination,

Their resounding disposition

Centered like the mighty river

In the heart of the Nation,


The Whanganui is shaped

Like Maui’s useful hook,

And they can tell me less by talking,

Than with a single look,

I miss the accents and mannerisms

Voices smoother than polished greenstone,

Warm heartwood carved from the Totara,

Like the Waka that brought them home.


I miss the silent Waiata,

Ever present in the air

As I hike gauze-covered hills

Without a worry or a care,

And the valley’s tiny rivulets

Under the dense, palm covered bush,

Where can always be heard

The chirping of the fantail

And persistent clucking

Of the stately Tui bird


And deeper still I miss the silent drumming

Of Aotearoa’s hot, volcanic heart,

Broken by the fault lines of a people torn apart.

I miss the Māoritanga being mended,

Through stewardship of land and sea,

Now Te Reo is being taught across the nation,

And love being shaped by the larger hearts

Of every rising generation


I miss lying in high branches with blankets

Laid out across the dense and sprawling crown

Of Mount Victoria’s California pine,

And gazing out at the city sparkling

With a glass of bright ebullient wine.

I miss the streets of Queen and Cuba,

Where the buskers come to play,

And feeding almonds to the Kakas

Who mock everything we say


I miss looking for native Taonga –

Galaxiid minnows, leaf litter frogs,

And rebellious Tuatara tumbling,

In gardens and forests laced with tiny glow worms

Revealing the path with home-made lights,

And gazing at the Southern Cross 

On those rare still and starry nights


I miss spotting the agile Kiwi bird,

As he bumbles through the ferns smelling out a feed,

Protected by possum proof fences 

So that he can live and breed.

I miss the jagged Southern Coastline

Always promising new thrills,

And smoking cannons with my Hoa

On graffitied ramparts in the hills,


And I miss casually looking out

Over the vast and shimmering Tasman Sea 

Above the Kingdom of Tangaroa,

The place where I have felt most free.

I miss the icy rush of the first dip,

And folding my body after that final breath,

My weights carrying me deeper,

As if flying to my death,

But having never felt more alive.


I miss my seven millimeter wetsuit

That I would thank for holding me so tight,

As I hovered over four hundred species of seaweeds

Flashing with rainbow-colored light.

I miss greeting the ancient Wheke,

Intelligently amorphous,

Chromatic skin bluer than the water,

But for his curious yellow eye,

And Berhampore café after the snorkel

Enjoying a flat-white and a pie,

As I contemplate with gratitude and a warm enduring glow,

That cold and distant world that so few have come to really know


I miss skating along the endless Harbour

And smiling at the beautiful people who jog by me, each in their own way,

I miss my fellow travelers, and the street Capoeira that we play,

And watching the ocean-fountain lit up with multi-colored light,

Sprinkling over the still black mirror of Oriental Bay at night.


Finally, I miss counting the little blue Kororu penguin

In his Taputeranga Island embankment,

Under a flax bush by the sub-Antarctic sea,

Close to Te Whanganui-a-Tara,

The place where I most love to be.