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From: Vol.09 N.01 – A Poetics of Rights

Pupurangi Shelley

by Robert Sullivan
I am a kauri snail kaitiaki
look on my green spiral shell 
ye mighty and despair
I admit I've eaten 
noke or native worm sushi
but I am a hundred millimeters
long and move at 0.013 m/s
through the Whirinaki,
the Tai Tokerau, Waitakere
and Kaimai ranges
to reside outside New World Gate Pā, 
Pak N Save Ruapekapeka,
and the Ōhaeawai Four Square
teaching our kids
their history at 2am or thereabouts
distributing udon noodles
from the dumpsters
so our kids can save the noke.
I miss most my kauri trees
with their big trunks
that sing with the wind
and admit they stretch
taller than my tall tentacles.
I tell the tamariki
our whānau’s whakapapa goes 
for 200 million years
beyond the Treaty of Waitangi
and James Busby picked up
our tūpuna in a tentacular blink
twice giving us his surname,
Paryphanta Busbyi Busbyi
making it all about him.

Aroha mai, sorry,
I must eat and run.

Te Reo Māori Glossary:

Kaitiaki = guardian of nature
Noke = native worm
Whānau = family
Whakapapa = genealogy, lineage
Pupurangi = giant kauri snail
Tamariki = children
Tai Tokerau = Northland, New Zealand
Kaimai = forest range in the Bay of Plenty
Waitākere = forest range in West Auckland
Tūpuna = ancestor
Aroha mai = sorry

Published: August 2022
Robert Sullivan

(from the tribes Ngāpuhi and Kāi Tahu) is the author of a number of books of poetry including Star Waka (Auckland University Press, 1999), which has gone through multiple reprints, a graphic novel and a prize-winning book of Māori legends for children. He co-edited, with Albert Wendt and Reina Whaitiri, the anthologies of Polynesian poetry in English, Whetu Moana and Mauri Ola, and an anthology of Māori poetry with Whaitiri, Puna Wai KōreroTūnui | Comet (AUP 2022) is his eighth collection of poems.

An Australian and international
journal of ecopoetry and ecopoetics.

Plumwood Mountain Journal is created on the unceded lands of the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to elders past, present and future. We also acknowledge all traditional custodians of the lands this journal reaches.