Earth’s rocky rifts thrust up
our young islands, millennia
clad their rugged ridges with
vast verdant swathes of forest.
Several centuries ago Maori
arrived in ocean going decked
double canoes along our coasts,
travelled through deep forests
built villages large and small
on hill tops, peninsulas, beside
lakes and sandy beaches.
Many an urupa, sacred burial
site was established near sandy
shores where loved ones’ graves
final resting places were dug.
Over the centuries the urupa
were remembered, the names
often forgotten as tribes moved to
new hunting and fishing grounds.
Once the white man’s missionaries
came Maori started to mark graves
with headstones bearing names, dates.
Then the twenty first century’s
tumultuous storms eroded beaches,
banks, cliffs, strewing bones from
ancient graves along stormy beaches.
Who will bury them again ?
how ? Where ? Today’s descendants
must bring themselves to decide.