South Point, Hawai’i

On the Big Island, where the ocean voyaging waka left
for Tahiti, perhaps Aotearoa, we watched the mooring stones:

smoothed by water, smoothed by hands,
carved out to moor the waka.

We felt the spirits soar in the wild wind around us,
wind strong enough to break the wind mills

littering the field. How they soared. We felt them.
This spiritual harbour. We felt them more than the great heiau

lying in ruins, more than the native information centre
with its statue of a woman in chains.

How could the ancestors know such desecration
would arrive in this place? Such sadness.

And yet their spirits soar here. They fly here.
We flew here and flew, our minds and hearts flew.

Robert Sullivan is of Nga Puhi (Ngati Manu, Ngati Hau) and Galway Irish descent. He is currently working as Library Manager of Maori Services at The University of Auckland Library. In 2004 he will be Assistant Professor in English at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, teaching creative writing. He has written four books of poetry (the latest is Captain Cook in the Underworld), all with Auckland University Press, co-edited an anthology of Polynesian poetry in English with Albert Wendt and Reina Whaitiri called Whetu Moana (Auckland University Press and University of Hawaii Press), a graphic novel, and a children’s book Weaving Earth and Sky: Myths and Legends of Aotearoa(illustrated by Gavin Bishop, Random House). The last book is shortlisted for this year’s NZ Post Children’s Book Awards.

Sullivan comments: ‘I wrote the poem on a visit to Ka Lae, which is South Point on the Big Island. I was struck by the spirituality of the place, and the closeness I felt to Aotearoa at that very special place.’

Poem source details >



Trout – e-book edition of Piki ake! (2003 full-text edition of the 1993 book of poetry by Robert Sullivan)
New Zealand Book Council writer file
Auckland University Press