what is black?

The colour of my culture… people often question why New Zealanders have such an attachment to black. It is commonplace in our casual day wear, and highly evident in fashion design. We wear a lot of black. There was even a book written about its significance in our culture (which I confess I’ve never read – really must do so one day). Black features in our art and sports and songs, among other things.

During the recent attempt to change our flag, black was seen as an acceptable option by many.
I was listening to people discussing this whole “what is it about black…?” thing way back in 2011, and wrote my feelings in response. Hearing the same questions raised again recently prompted me to share this.

In this land of the long white cloud
we walk in the colour of storms and shadows.

We walk in black
the colour of night,
of the space between the stars,
the lines of history
we read in books
and on our faces.

We see each other
in the black centre of our eyes.

We walk in the night
with our eyes closed
burning with an inner light
black light
by which we find our way.

We choose the dark.

Ruru call in the bush
Pekapeka hear echoes in the cave
Wheke write warnings in the sea

Black is not the colour of absence,
or loss,
or separation.

We wrap ourselves in shadows
and feel secure.
The colour of night holds us together
and we are solid and strong and safe.

Black is the colour of my heart,
of my people,
of my spirit.
It runs like dark bush water through my veins.


© Claire Griffin 2016

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