Hinemoana II

Hinemoana has been alive for so long. we used to spend all our time together
but i hardly see her. now she spends her weekends dumping pebbles on golf
club lawns to jam their ride-on mowers. she uses pigment she made from
crushed soil to paint the words 'ko te maatauranga he wai noo ruawhetuu'
outside the beehive. when the rain washes it away she comes back and repaints
it. she neuters all the cats she can find in the street. she takes the stray ones in
‒ what are you gonna do with all these cats, mo? ‒ keeping them inside till they
die. she feeds them stolen Fancy Feast and covers them in bells to keep them
from catching her koro's kin. if they ever escaped.

Hinemoana doesn't smoke any more but sometimes she eats hijiki or river
watercress with arsenic from local pesticide absorbed into its tough skin. it gives
her a little buzz. she cries a lot, leaving her skin bleached and pimpled. she's
getting smaller. the edges of her are eroding day by day. the cleaner shrimp that
used to brush through her tresses are gone. her head is weedless. i tried to cheer
her up by inviting her to a climate change poetry reading once and she said
‒ lol ‒ without smiling.

Hinemoana is losing her mind. she moved her hut closer to the shore so that
half is sitting over the water. the inside is wallpapered with greasy newspaper.
it took me a while to realise she was buying battered kahawai and placing it in
the moana. karakia whistles through the sea breeze. the morsels bobble on the
surface and attract clouds of grey gulls. the manu circle her hut and half the time
i don't know if it's her or them that are screaming. outside her hut hinemo has
a tiny mussel farm to test bivalve filtering techniques. last month it was oysters.
she wasn't planning on having children but these are desperate times.

Hinemoana doesn't sleep. there have been several eyewitnesses who have said
she has punched holes in their windows at night. she leaves with pounamu
pendants clicking against each other around her neck. if anyone tries to
confront her she hisses LANDBACK so loud their eardrums bleed. she dumps
the reclaimed greenstone back into the rivers to be cleansed. there are several
columns dedicated to her online but she hasn't seen them because all her socials
were suspended.

Hinemoana follows the Maramataka. on Whiro moons she stands on the top of
the nearest maunga and communes with Kiwa and Te Ranginui-e-tuu-nei and
Papa-tuu-aa-nuku and her kui Hine-nui-te-poo in the dark shade of night. she
never tells me what they're talking about. there was once a time when she fell
in love with everything the whenua has to offer. there was once a time when
everything felt abundant. if i am quiet i can hear her in the waves moaning ‒
please just give me more time. when Hinemoana descends from the maunga the
skies offer tears.

Michelle Rahurahu (Ngaati Rahurahu, Ngaati Tahu-Ngaati Whaoa) is a writer who was raised by taangata turi. She is a co-editor of Te Rito o te Harakeke, an anthology of Maaori voices for Ihumātao. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters, where she won the Modern Letters Fiction Prize. Her debut novel is ... forthcoming.

Michelle comments: '"Hinemoana II" is a wero to look past artifice. Our nation thrives on the aesthetic of all-natural, green—but this is a two-dimensional perspective and often counter to what is "natural". The poem is also an expression of indigenous plight against rising tides and how most of its movements are attempts to halt further damage. Hinemoana is a representation of the least powerful person, trying to absorb all the harmful actions from the most powerful people onto their body, at the cost of her own comfort and safety. It's about a takataapui waa that would swallow all the world’s poisons to return it back to noa.'

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