Creation Story

You can never live the same party twice & that makes me want to cry.
That makes me want to get so high that even the stars start trying it on.

Searching for Te Kore until I’m fully gone. Now we can start again.
Kick the night up from the earth, in our platform boots, & let the light in.

This is what made me tender like a pork bone boiling in every situation
I could barely sit in. On the flax mat going at god for hours & hours.

On the whenua calming Ruaumoko, while the police lasso the land.
In the car outside the station, my mother dependent on his rib. I had

my hands out the window, weighing the air to see if it felt like a Saturday night
or a Sunday, wondering if Dad would be let out of his cage in time

to see god today. I see atua today in everything. This is what made me. Watching
their descendants drop it lower than their expectations. They could never

sit in our situations which is why they can’t get up & break it down like we do
& this song made from Polynesian mystics, deceptive transformers, delivers us

back to when we were down on ourselves doing ugly little things. Rolling
our eyes at the singing. Avoiding the sun. Just as our mothers had done

when their mothers spent generations powdering themselves pretty
in the image of the father, ignoring both her mother & the whenua in her.

I should have held my fist up then, a palmful of protest, but that’s why I keep
my hands up, my hands up in the air now & this fresh set of fire reminds me

of how Nanny Pearl had nails so long it used to freak me out & now
I’m like wtf was I even on about & every time I see my nail tech

it’s an homage & an apology for every time I didn’t listen, bit the apple &
felt abandoned, & then abandoned me & me & me. But here we are now

created, & on fire like Mahuika. This is what made me. Trying to weave
perfect sentences, forming mountains I don’t have the answers for. I’d ask

my ancestors, but I’m not sure they know. All we have ever done is our best
with the materials on hand: heat, water, soil. A smattering of words &

this is what made me drag myself upward from the ocean like Pania.
Fresh-faced & curious. This is what made me worshipful & marvellous, able to

stand upright, & some of that time I was dancing. This is what made me.
A duplicate of Hineahuone, our blood of red sand. No matter how hard we

sculpt ourselves, in the end we will always collapse back, & in the meantime
it is my friends who make me bow. Get on my hands & knees for

mop their drink up from the floor, kiss their beautiful ankles.
My god, you are so talented, embodied & creative. This is what

made me let down my ancestral knot, let my hips rock with all the rhythm
of the wind, this party beating & cultured in the space between

the sky & the land. Get high while you can. You have travelled
very far. I saw you coming in my mind born from the last burst star.

author photo Tayi Tibble

Tayi Tibble (Te Whānau ā Apanui/Ngāti Porou) was born in 1995 and lives in Wellington. In 2017 she completed a Masters in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington, where she was the recipient of the Adam Foundation Prize. Her first book, Poūkahangatus (Victoria University Press, 2018), won the Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry. Her second collection, Rangikura (VUP, 2021) was shortlisted for the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry in 2022. 'Creation Story' is the first poem by an indigenous writer from Aotearoa New Zealand to be published in the New Yorker.


​Poem source details >



Tayi Tibble's Te Herenga Waka University Press author page

Audio recording of 'Creation Story' in The New Yorker


Photographer credit: Jane Ussher