tears in the sky

it has rained for three days
rain and fog and mist for two
and yesterday – more rain in a day
than usual for the whole month

the land itself was grieving
for the ones who’ve left us
for voices silenced
for songs unsung

Te Ihorangi and Hinewai
are the gods of rain and mist
male and female together
holding us in their embrace

as mist lay heavy on the hills
cloaks woven of all the tears
we’ve shed these last few days
these last few months

crying with us
until we are ready
to stand and turn our faces
to the sun

©Claire Griffin 2016

In this land, rain is often interpreted as a sign of grief, as if the land itself is crying in recognition of the passing of a great leader. This is an extract from the lament, ‘E pā tō hau’, for Te Wano of the Ngāti Apakura tribe:

E ua e te ua e taheke
Koe i runga rā
Ko au ki raro nei riringi ai
Te ua i aku kamo.

Come then, O rain, pour down
Steadily from above
While I here below pour forth
A deluge from mine eyes.


Citation: Basil Keane, ‘Tāwhirimātea – the weather – Rain’,
Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand,
(accessed 13 November 2016)
Full story by Basil Keane, published 12 Jun 2006

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