Saturday, 25 August 2012

How Human Beings Were Created Into The World of Light

This conception of Hinenuitepo was painted by the artist Danny Ngene Ngene 

(This is a saved post from Multiply)

Tanemahuta and his brothers - who are gods and therefore not human; they are in fact the epitome of ira atua (the divine principle), began a search of the natural world for ira tangata (the human principle).

As they roamed throughout the new world Tane the creator tested his procreative powers onto the various natural elements. It is in this way that the trees, the birds and the insects came to be formed.

But eventually the gods came to realise that ira tangata could not be derived from ira atua .
They needed to think of something different.
They needed to think outside the square.
They needed uwha (the female principle), which was located in their mother Papatuanuku.

Hineahuone The First Human In The World of Light

Finally Tanemahuta sculpted the first woman Hineahuone from the earth of Papatuanuku, then he breathed the life force of his mauri into her mouth and her nostrils.

And she breathed for the first time.
She breathed in the air of the world.

Hineahuone, as the clay-formed First Human, a woman, combined both the spiritual and the material; a legacy passed on to all of her descendants.

Hinetiitama and The World of Night

Tanemahuta cohabited with Hineahuone the first woman.
She conceived life and brought forth from her womb Hinetiitama (the dawn maid).

When she was grown to adulthood, Tanemahuta the creator, cohabited with Hinetiitama to produce other human children. She gave birth to Hinerauwharangi.

Then one day the wind whispered to Hinetiitama, "who is your father?"
Another day a wave asked her, "who is your father?'

Hinetiitama became curious as to the identity of her father. Realizing that she had no recollection of him, she asked her husband. He told her to ask the posts of the marae.

From his evasiveness she finally realised her own husband was also her father.
Shocked, Hinetiitama told him that she would leave him and go to the lower world.

Her words were:
"The path of Tahekeroa to the lower world shall be laid down for all time.
From the Muriwaihou I will look up to you and our offspring moving in the world."

Tane followed Hinetiitama to the portal of the underworld. As she began to enter she turned to him and bid him farewell saying again, "Tane, return to our family. I have severed connection with the World of Light and now desire to dwell in the World of Night."

Thereupon she descended into Rarohenga, where she became Hinenuitepo (the goddess of death).

She was the first human to take the path to Rarohenga and she still stands at the end of the path to welcome her children.

Papatuanuku and Ranginui and How the World Began

(This is a saved post from Multiply)

Probably every culture has stories of how they believe the world began, certainly the tangatawhenua (people of the land,) of Aotearoa/New Zealand had their own creation mythology.

The version I have written down here here is based on the writing of Professor Ranginui Walker.

There were the three states of existence and they were:

Te Kore (the void), signified the vastness of space which contained the seeds of the universe and is therefore a state of potential -

Te Po (the dark), was the celestial realm and the domain of the gods and the source of all mana and tapu -

Te Aomarama (the world of light), is the world of light and reality, the dwelling place of humans.

In the beginning of the world there was only Te Kore, the great void and emptiness of space .

Te Kore had differing qualities which were described by a series of adjectives. Thus Te Kore became:

Te Kore te whiwhia (the void in which nothing could be obtained),
Te Kore te rawea (the void in which nothing could be felt),
Te Kore i ai (the void with nothing in union),
Te Kore te wiwia (the space without boundaries).

Te Po, the second state of existence also had adjectives and graduations.
First there is Te Po, then:

Te Po nui (the great night),
Te Po roa (the long night),
Te Po te kitea (the night in which nothing could be seen),
Te Po uriuri (the dark night),
Te Po kerekere (the intense night),
Te Po tangtango (the intensely dark night),

As with Te Kore, the periods of Te Po correspond to the aeons of time before and as the earth slowly came into being. They also signify the emptiness and darkness of of the mind.

Because there was no light there was no knowledge.

Papatuanuku (the earth mother) and Ranginui (the sky father) were so close and embraced so tightly that they prevented light from coming into the world however their procreative powers brought sons into being,

The sons realised that living in a world of darkness and ignorance could be alleviated only by separating their parents so that

Ranginui could become the sky father above them


Papatuanuku would remain with them as their earth mother.

The task of separating earth and sky fell to Tanemahuta who prised them apart with his shoulders to the ground and his legs thrusting upwards. After this one of his names became Tane-te-toko-o-te-rangi (Tane the prop of the heavens).  His name was verified over and over in the great forests of Tane where the mighty trunks of the totara and kauri trees could be seen soaring upwards past the green canopy and towards the sky.

Now the separation of the earth and the sky brought into being

Te Aomarama (the world of light)
the third state of existence
the place of human beings...

Letting in the light let in knowledge...

Ranginui was filled with sorrow at being parted from Papatuanuku whose face far below him now was a constant reminder of the painful separation. His tears were
Ua-nui (great rain)
Ua-roa (long rain)
Ua-whatu (fierce hailstorms)
Ua-ngana (light rain).

Finally the gods decided to turn Papatuanuku over so that her face would be hidden from her husband. The youngest of the brothers, Ruaumoko was still breastfeeding at the time and as the god of volcanoes he was left there to warm and comfort his mother.

After the Separation came the War of the Gods .

Tawhirimatea (the god of winds) who had opposed separation and was therefore angry devastated the forests of Tane with hurricane force. Once he had vanquished Tane he lashed up the mountainous seas of Tangaroa, driving the descendants of Tangaroa to seek shelter from his wrath.

Thus the children of Tangaroa scattered, Ikatere fleeing to the depths of the ocean to become the progenitor of the fish species and Tu-te-wehiwehi travelling inland to establish the reptilian family.

Tawhirimatea could not vent his wrath on Rongomatane and Haumiatiketike because their mother Papatuanuku hid them by thrusting them deep into her breasts. Remaining untested in war Haumiatiketike became the god of edible fern roots and other wild and uncultivated plants. Rongomatane became the custodian of the kumara and the god of cultivation and other peaceful arts.

Finally Tawhirimatea turned his wrath on the one remaining brother Tumatauenga whom he was unable to vanquish. However Tumatuaenga became angry with his brothers for not standing alongside him. For this reason he is also known as
Tu-ka-riri (Tu of violent temper),
Tu-ka-nguha (Tu of raging fury),
Tu-whakaheke-tangata-ki-te-po (Tu who consigns men to Hades)
Tu, as the god of war and ancestor of fierce man encompasses in his names the aggressive characteristics and warlike nature of men.

Tapu And Noa

Tumatauenga sought utu (redress) from his brothers for leaving him to face Tawhirimatea alone. He attacked the children of Tane, asserting his mana by debasing them and converting them to common use. From trees and vines he fashioned spears and snares to kill and trap Tane's birds. He also made nets and canoes to catch the children of Tangaroa. By his actions of using the children of his brothers as food and common objects Tumatauenga negated their tapu and made them noa.

This reflects the basic Maori dichotomy between the sacred and profane and explains how it came into being and the holistic view of humankind conceived of and belonging to the land (tangatawhenua - people of the land). People are not above the land but an integral part of it, therefore, if a tree is needed for timber, then rituals to seek permission from Tane must be performed first. In a similar way a fisherman is expected to return to the sea the first catch he caught as an offering to Tangaroa. The first fruits of the harvest season should be offered to Rongomatane, the god of cultivation.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

A Discussion on Cannibalism

So, I'm reading this rather magnificent book (large, thick and really brilliant) by Professor Anne Salmond called The Trial Of the Cannibal Dog which I am planning to review when I've finished reading it. But I keep hitting points of interest which are I can see are going to keep sending me here to you.

As you can see (hopefully) from the image of the book cover above, this book is a true and exceptionally well-researched account of Captain Cook's voyages into the South Pacific Ocean (Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa) and the collision of cultures that transpired. Anne Salmond has issues with imperialist presumptions in the historical accounts to date and this book is very much a balancing act; a bringing into the frame the people and cultures already existing and sailing in the "empty" lands and oceans being "discovered" by the Imperialist project.

But this is not the review yet. Not supposed to be anyway. I have a long way to read. Rather as I'm making my way through this journey of a book I, and Captain Cook, Joseph Banks, Tupaia (the priest from Tahiti who chose to accompany Cook etc) and the sailors of the Endeavour, keep hearing stories about cannibalism. And in Aotearoa/New Zealand, at Totaranui (named by Cook as Queen Charlotte Sound) they find their first actual evidence of the practice.

(rather large) Excerpt/s from the Book:

"As Cook examined one of these bones, he realised in consternation that it might be from a human forearm. He asked one of the family members if these were not dog bones, but in answer the man took hold of the flesh of his own forearm and pretended to chew it.

Joseph Bank noted later: Tho we had from the first of our arrival upon the [New Zealand] coast constantly heard the Indians acknowledge the custom of eating their enemies we had never before had a proof of it, but this amounted almost to demonstration: the bones were clearly human, ... and on the grisly ends which were gnawed were evident marks of teeth, and these were accidentally found in a provision basket.  

... Tupaia asked these people, 'What bones are these?' They answered, 'The bones of a man.' 'And have you eaten the flesh?' 'Yes.' 'Have you none of it left?' 'No.' 'Why did you not eat the woman who we saw today in the water?' 'She was our relation.' 'Who is it then that you do eat?' 'Those who are killed in war.' 'And who was the man whose bones these are?' '5 days ago a boat of our enemies came into this bay and of them we killed 7, of whom the owner of these bones was one.'

When they returned to the ship, they told their shipmates about what they had seen. Judging from their journals it made a tremendous impact. No one on board was indifferent to cannibalism, although their reactions varied widely" (p142)

Anne Salmond goes on to discuss the cultural implications. Eating human flesh, she writes, was not a theoretical matter for sailors during this period. When ships were wrecked or burnt at sea, or when men took to the boats or were marooned, they were known to eat each other. Apparently human flesh might be eaten in Europe in times of famine (would this not be sensible, don't you think? or not?) or during riots. Remember, we are talking eighteenth century era here. People believed in witchcraft and believed that witches and warlocks sacrificed and ate human flesh during their rituals.

I would like to point out that I am (mostly) vegetarian so I don't really eat meat much anyhow, no matter what the animal. But when you think about it, who and why was it decided that eating other people was so bad. Cook and his crew kill Polynesian people for theft with impunity in this saga, and even though Cook sometimes has feelings of remorse over this, the killings don't really stop. No one is held to account over killings though they may get flogged over thefts. Is killing and leaving the body to rot on a beach more moral than killing and then cooking the human kill. Isn't just burying a body wasteful? In precolonial Aotearoa/New Zealand there were no mammals save whales and seals, some Maori dogs (kuri) and kiore (native rats). Can we liken Maori culture then, to famine-ridden Europe or marooned sailors?

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Men of Pike River Mine, Westland, Aotearoa/New Zealand

 The Men Of Pike

They came from near and far away
The men of Pike to work that day.
The afternoon shift way down deep
Beneath the mountains oh so steep,
A long way in but further out
The afternoon shift sets about.

A job not flash but hard and trying,
A job that holds the risk of dying.

From seventeen to sixty two
They start their shift to see it through,
For one his first, for all their last
How could they know there’d be a blast?

For all at once no siren whining
Suddenly the worst in mining -
Dust and rubble fill the air,
A loader driver thrown clear,
Just one other finds the light,
The rest are hidden from our sight,

And so we learn as news is spread
The news that mining families dread,
It’s up at Pike there’s an explosion
Faces drop and hearts are frozen
Who, how many, where and why ---
Will they make it ---- will they die?

Fathers, husbands, brothers, sons
Coasters, Kiwis, Aussies, Poms
Mates and friends who we are seeking -

Could robots work where men are mortal
To pierce the dangers of that portal?

But alas, all effort fails
The darkness of the mine prevails
A second blast of rock and thunder -
Hope and prayers are rent asunder.

A nation weeps and Coasters mourn
Pike falls silent, dark, forlorn.

A hole remains within the ground
Devoid of joy, of life, of sound
Another hole within the heart
Of those forever set apart
From those they loved who went to toil
Digging coal beneath the soil
Those who gave their lives that day
To work a shift for honest pay
They wait at rest within their mine
The men of Pike, the Twenty Nine.

Sean Plunket

In remembrance for the twenty-nine men who were killed in the Pike River Mine Disaster. The first explosion happened on the 19th November, 2010 at about 3.44pm. Thirty-one men were inside the mine at that time, two escaped and were treated for moderate injuries. The remaining twenty-nine men were believed to be at least 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) from the mine entrance. This initial explosion damaged the mine's gas drainage line, causing methane gas to begin accumulating in the mine immediately. As there may have been a potential ignition source, it was too dangerous for rescuers to enter the mine and would probably be too dangerous for several days. A second explosion occurred at 2:37pm on the 24th November, 2010. At that point, Police Superintendent Gary Knowles said he believed no one could have survived. The second explosion sent smoke, soot and explosive gases up a mine shaft where a team of rescue staff had been taking samples; the noise of the rising explosion provided them enough warning to escape. They were very lucky I think. Then there was a third explosion which occurred at 3:39pm on the 26th November. A fourth explosion ignited the coal within the mine; the subsequent fire was visible above the ventilation shaft; the steel structure above the shaft was damaged and neighbouring scrub set alight.

A service was held at the Holy Trinity Church in Greymouth, where hundreds of people gathered to mourn the loss of the workers on the 24th of November.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Bloggers Not Beaten by Jack Madrid After All

Read that article here.

Here's the thing. I came online and my friend Lynne had put up a note linking to this online article from the Manila Bulletin Publishing Company. So I made a note with the link too but when people went there they got "The requested page could not be found." I was hoha but then I realised I still had my original tab open with the article still there. So I have copied and pasted. Up you, Jack. (original link to article)

Jack Madrid
Country Manager, Multiply Philippines
December 19, 2011, 4:16am

MANILA, Philippines — If you look at my job history, you’ll see I don’t like easy jobs,” says Jack Madrid, country manager of Multiply Philippines.

Energetic and articulate, adept in people management and with vast business experience in diverse fields, Madrid was a shoo-in to establish Multiply’s first headquarters in the Philippines. “There are lots of challenges, lots everyday,” he says of Multiply’s shift from a social networking site to a fully functioning e-commerce platform, “but that’s what keeps me going.”

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Madrid has been involved in banking (Citibank N.A., Vice President for the World Communication Group based in Hongkong), conglomerate work (strategic planning and business development for Ayala Corporation, for which he also helped acquire Maynilad and start its dotcoms), media and entertainment (Managing Director for MTV Philippines), BPO (Dell), and country manager for Yahoo! Philippines, where he established local operations and spearheaded its growth as the country’s leading digital news and content provider.

Here, he talks about the power of the Pinoy in transforming the digital and e-commerce landscape, and why Multiply—though started in the United States and now owned by a South African company—can be considered as truly Filipino.

Business Agenda: Just how big is the Multiply community?

Jack Madrid: We’re growing daily, weekly, monthly. Our latest count is now 95,000 Multiply sites with over a million products for sale. These are the users that are registered as merchants, with over 2,000 new merchants coming online each month. We have almost five million unique users every month.

Obviously more stores are more active than others, but we have the biggest storefronts in all of Asia.

BA: How did it grow this big?

JM: Multiply has been around since 1994; we estimate the first Filipino store started in 2006. That was when Pinoys started using Multiply as an advertising platform for goods for sale. In the beginning it’s funny—we were telling them to stop; it’s against the terms of service and so on. That went on for a couple of years. Even the founders thought it was some sort Pinoy aberration.

But sometime in 2008, the overall traffic of Multiply went down. And they realized it was Holy Week in the Philippines, and they said this is serious. It’s time to take a look at this. They took the Philippines a little bit more seriously. They said, “If they want to sell goods online, we can’t stop them.”

Then, in 2010, when Facebook took over the Internet, they really had to figure out what’s next. So we got on the radar of a company called Naspers. It’s a South African company that became big through traditional media—TV, cable, print. But some years back, they decided to invest seriously in the Internet. So they put up another company, a wholly-owned one called MIH, which invests and operates Internet companies in emerging markets around the world. For example, they bought a company in Poland called Allegro. It’s the biggest e-commerce company in Eastern Europe, a billion-plus dollar company, and because of Allegro, eBay had to leave eastern Europe. We’re trying to replicate that success in emerging markets like Africa and Latin America.

So Multiply is a U.S. company, technically, but its biggest community is in the Philippines. Without the Philippines, we wouldn’t have moved to become an e-commerce company. The only other Multiply office outside the U.S. is in Jakarta, which has the second biggest community.

(Two years ago, Naspers bought another Filipino company, A few years ago, it announced its purchase of Level Up, another company born in the Philippines that became big in Brazil.)

The business model for Multiply was to transform the company into e-commerce, build an office, hire a country manager, and let him hire a team. So my Jakarta counterpart and I joined the same day, on February 7, 2011. In the Philippines, I’m employee no. 5. Today, we’re 41. It’s very exciting.

So what we’ve been trying to do since then was to migrate the existing stores of Multiply to the new platform, which is called Multiply Commerce. Since May, we’ve been migrating them from photo album (format) to product listing, with additional functionalities to include product information–color, size, how many are available, price.

BA: Why should your vendors want to migrate from the old Multiply to Multiply Commerce?

JM: It gives a better shopping experience for the buyer, and it’s more efficient for the merchant to use Multiply Commerce. Once you’re a product listing, your goods as a merchant can be bought through Multiply. Currently, it’s through a meet up, or (through means where the) buyer takes a risk.

Now you can make use of the payment gateway of Multiply; you have the confidence of paying through Multiply.

The second thing is that we have a shopping cart. The buyer can buy several goods from one store, or one product each from different stores. Then you can check out, with all delivery charges there, and fill out your payment details. Then you’re given a transaction reference number, which you need to know when you’re paying at the bank. And you’re done. Seller gets paid 24 hours later, and you get your product.

BA: What are the current payment options?

JM: You can pay through BDO, BPI, GCash, Paypal, Visa, MasterCard, AMEX and JCB. Soon, you’ll be able to pay through Smart Money, Bancnet, Citi Mobile and Cebuana Lhuillier.

BA: How many are on Multiply Commerce now?

JM: Five thousand merchants have already migrated to the new system, with over 92,000 product listings combined.

BA: What made you want to take on this post?

JM: E-commerce is still in a very nascent stage, and I believe in coming in early. It’s also a unique opportunity for me, because I came from Yahoo!, and I had a little experience in my Ayala days with dotcom start-ups.

This was an unusual start-up situation. No. 1, it was really a start-up, the office was empty, but Multiply is a brand that needed no introduction. Everyone knew about Multiply. They even knew it was about shopping, not about social networking. No. 2, our community in the Philippines already decided what they wanted us to be. Normally you have to explain what you’re doing. In this case, it was the opposite—they told us. So that’s a very unique thing. No. 3, unlike other start-ups, we were funded. Naspers gave us money to put up a decent office and hire people…I’ve been in start-ups before when we were always raising money. Half of the time you’re raising money. And no. 4—which convinced me to join—where can you find an Internet company where the biggest market is the Philippines? Now Yahoo! is very big, much bigger than Multiply. But even if I increased Yahoo’s business 20 times, it will still not be the biggest. (Then-Yahoo President and CEO) Carol Bartz would have still not have known me. And that’s why I joined.

BA: You named those four reasons for joining Multiply, and you make it sound too good to be true…

JM: I’m good at that (laughs).

BA: …so what challenges do you have, if any?

JM: E-commerce is the most complicated (business). Anything can go wrong, anytime. We’re not in control of the payments, delivery, logistics—they’re all external. I don’t even know what happens after between buyer and seller…there are some sellers who can do funny things. So that’s one operational challenge.
Internally, managing a company of 40 people is not easy either. Especially when you have to hire them in three months. People management is an art and a science and there’s no formula, but there’s a way to do it. If you do it too fast, you can suffer from people indigestion.

BA: What do you uniquely bring to Multiply?

JM: People management, I would say. My business experience. My knowledge of start-ups. And I think building the right team. Because at the end of the day, regardless of the business, what matters is hiring the right people. And that’s not enough. You’ve got to get them to do what needs to be done in an aligned fashion, and to make this fun and fulfilling as possible. To me all work is the same if you follow those principles.

One of the things I do for Multiply, and I can say this about digital as a whole, is evangelizing and educating what digital is. This is one thing I learned in Yahoo—even agencies—they think of digital as a separate piece of marketing. When you talk to someone in the agency, they’ll say they’ll need a “digital person.” “Look for someone for me who’s good in tech.” No, it’s not tech at all. I’m not a techie, believe me. It’s really about—to me—how to reach younger people. That’s all digital marketing is. It’s no different from traditional marketing. Don’t think of digital as separate. Think of it as part, an integral part of your overall marketing campaign.

In my presentations, I show a scene. A typical scene today—a guy watching TV, with a cellphone in his hand, and his computer on. This happens in every room. You’ve got three screens in one room. Twenty years ago, everyone would be glued to just one screen in one room.

If you’re a brand, your marketing strategy has to change, right? you can’t throw 95 percent of your budget to TV and 5 percent to digital. Digital has to be part of your overall campaign. Which is why I’m excited about e-commerce, because more and more of our lives are spent online. And shopping is going to come next. It has to, especially when we fix the payment system, when more Pinoys have credit cards, when our delivery systems is in place, when there are more e-commerce sites, it will all come together.
BA: So why don’t people just go to Facebook or

JM: To me it’s all one big ecosystem. A lot of our merchants use Facebook to drive clients to their site. We spend money on Facebook, just to draw awareness. Everyone’s there so you can’t not be there, but just because you have a page or many fans doesn’t mean you’re going to sell.

Let me explain why Sulit is different from Multiply. Sulit is like classifieds. If you were selling a watch or a car, or two phones, you would list it on Sulit. But if you want to go into a business, like if you had a collection of cars or watches, then you go to Multiply.

BA: Anything goes with your merchants, correct?

JM: Yes. Half of our goods are probably apparel. Tech gadgets, cameras, cellphones, accessories are the second biggest. Next would be baby-related items.

BA: Aside from the shopping cart and payment systems, what sort of protection do you give merchants?
JM: We have a product called Trusted Merchant. It’s a work in progress, but it exists. We verify the accuracy of a seller’s information. We want to know who he or she is, where they live, what their phone number is, we get copies of their business registration—it’s our way of telling the shoppers we know this merchant. If it’s a trusted merchant, we allow them to put a “trusted badge” on their site. There are a couple of hundred of them now; there’s a cost to the processing, but these are the merchants we can say we know.

BA: Can you give us a profile of your usual merchant?

JM: There’s no one profile. The majority are women. Maybe 25 years and up. We invited 50 or 60 merchants one day, I don’t know if that was representative but 80 percent were women. But almost all are working, and this is an important part, but not their only source, of their income.

BA: Do you have any anecdotes or success stories about your merchants?

JM: We’ve a few merchants who have become very big. In the category of gadgets, there’s Kimstore and her competitor called Bbgadgets. There is no cheaper place to buy a camera or cellphone than Kimstore. She’s a Go Negosyo awardee and is only 22 years old.

We also have this group called Multiply Millionaires. We talk to them. They say their dream is to have a real store. It’s funny. If you’re online, size does not matter, you can talk to anyone. Then we also talk to the big brands. So these brands tell us: their dream is to have an online store. So I think we’re coming in this (industry) at a right time.

But we have a long way to go. Every week we’re experimenting and adding new things. But what I like about our owners is that we’re not going to take any shortcuts for success. We’re here for the long term. And to show you how committed we are, we’ve decided to waive our transaction fee until early next year. We have a transaction fee of 3.9 percent; we net out the proceeds from the buyers, but because we really want Multiply to be the marketplace of choice online, we decided to waive that till next year.

BA: Do you have other revenue streams?

JM: We have an advertising sales team and I think the advertising solutions we bring are quite unique. I think what makes e-commerce interesting is that the people who go to Multiply have a different mindset. If you go to for example, Yahoo!, you’re there to check your mail, and maybe you’ll read one or two headlines before you check your mail. But if you’re going to Multiply, you’re there to windowshop or you’re curious about something. So we think that is more interesting to some brands for advertising because there is already an intent to buy.

BA: So with you setting up Multiply here in the Philippines, staffing it with Filipnos, can you say this business model is uniquely Filipino?

JM: I would argue that Multiply is a Philippine company. Because we wouldn’t have changed to e-commerce if not for the Philippines. And I’m proud of that, whenever I give a talk, I tell them that story—traffic went down, it was Holy Week in the Philippines…people love that stuff.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Ripples on the Lake - Dawn Rotarangi

I first reviewed this rather ghoulish novel (if you like a bit of blood and guts, you'll probably like this one) anyway, I reviewed it on Multiply in 2008. For people who don't know the (soon to be defunct) Multiply site, there is a special slot for book reviews and you can award yellow stars out of five for what you think of the book. I gave this one four stars -it's a first novel and I was leaving room for improvement for her next novels (I hoped there would be many).

So I was rather startled when I came online the next evening to discover I'd had a cheeky visitor (dawnr) commenting on my post.

She wrote, "Hey Iri - I'd give it 5 stars, of course, but then I'm biased! So glad you enjoyed it. I guess first borns are always special but this story is very dear to me. There's a little bit of my heart in there. Anyway, glad you liked it. Regards Dawn

The Original Multiply Book Review

This is a first novel by Dawn Rotarangi. It was published in 2007.

The novel is set in and around Lake Taupo, which is in the North Island of Aotearoa/New Zealand, and explores the shadows between two worlds — the living and the dead, past and present, Maori and Pakeha, and what might happen, nay what does happen when some unthinking fool breaks a tapu.

When Billy Delaney (the unthinking fool) steals coins from a rock pool to buy a burger, he has no idea what he is about to unleash. But Billy has always been in trouble, and when his sister Saffron steps in to try and sort him out, trouble quickly overwhelms the Delaney family.

First Saffron’s niece suffers an horrific accident, leaving her balanced precariously between life and death. And then the Delaneys begin to die one by one. It’s left to a disbelieving Saffron helped by her unlikely ally Nick, a burnt-out war photographer to try to appease the wrath of long deceased Tama Ariki whose quest for utu echoes down the centuries.

This was the kind of story which kept me reading just to see what the heck was going to happen next. I really enjoyed it.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

L E Scott. Respect.


there are still those
who carry stones in their pockets
all witches are not dead

L E Scott
from Speaking in Tongues

L E Scott is a Wellington-based jazz poet, performer, prose writer and reviewer. He was born in Cordele, Georgia, in 1947. While still a teenager, he moved with his family to Trenton, New Jersey, which is where he attended high school. After graduating, he was drafted into the United States Army and spent a year in Vietnam as an infantryman (1967-68). After discharge, he attended Trenton State College, then left the United States to travel in Europe, West Africa and Australia. He came to New Zealand in 1976.

His first collection, The Coming of Lewis E. Scott (1972) was published in the USA. This Bitter Earth (1978) was his first New Zealand-published book. In addition to his thirteen books of poetry, Scott has published two collections of fiction, Songs for My Father (1983) and Black Family Letters from Boston (1994).

L E Scott has also edited three anthologies: Each Other's Dreams - Contemporary Black American Writing (1982); King's Cross Pub Poets (1985); and Wiimpatjai Bulku Pipinja - Black Fella's Message - Aborigine Writers (1986).

His work appears in numerous anthologies and journals in the USA, Australia and New Zealand, including all of New Zealand's major literary magazines. He is also extensively published in New Zealand and abroad as a book reviewer.

I reprint the piece of writing below because I think it follows so well from my previous post.

From Earth Colours by L E Scott

South Africa Election Day
                                     For those who have died
Truly, Black people must be God's first-born, for we are asked to forgive a multitude of white sins visited upon us and at the same time carry on the belief that humankind's humanity somehow rests in the act of our forgiveness. So many Black people on the face of this earth have died for no other reason than that they were not white.

Truly, Black people must be God's first-born, for in the midst of so much hate and deprivation, not only have we been asked to strive but to forgive as we have buried so many Steve Bikos and Dr. Kings. What a wondrous gift and burden God has bestowed upon us, that in our hands so much responsibility rests while those who have claimed this very position have boot-marched over it.

Truly, Black people must be God's first-born, for we have been asked to toil and plant the seeds and yet have been denied a full taste of the harvest. And as we have brought this food to the tables of others, we have been asked to do so with a subservient and humble smile. We have been asked to breastfeed the very ones who for so long carried on the mantle of our oppression. Even as we have been murdered we have been charged with being the beasts among humanity.

Truly, Black people must be God's first-born, for we have been through the fires of Sharpeville, Mississippi, Soweto, Robin Island and Alabama and now the jailers of those places are asking those who have been so unfairly jailed not to seek revenge or retribution.

Truly, Black people must be God's first-born, for having survived with a belief far transcending the fear of God, and against all the odds, the burden of forgiveness has now been added to the weight we have carried. Let this be the warning to the second-born. Let this be the last time.

Truly, Black people must be God's first-born and as James Baldwin said, speaking of the second-born: "It is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent ..."

Saturday, 11 August 2012

A Very Large Blot On Our Landscape

I am reading Nelson Mandela's book, Long Walk To Freedom. Many of you may have already read it. It has been out for a few years now. For those who haven't, Nelson Mandela wrote an autobiography which details what it was like to grow up and live through racist South Africa and the apartheid regime, and about his part in trying to bring about change. In the book I am up to the year 1962. Nelson has just arrived at Robben Island.

While I read and think about these issues though, this book brings up other memories and images about related things that happened here, in Aotearoa/New Zealand. I'd like to share some of that with you.

The issue of Apartheid in South Africa was a huge political issue in New Zealand. It became especially important to us here, (apart from the obvious humanitarian concerns), because of our strong rugby-playing links with South Africa. Back then, rugby was THE game here in New Zealand, and the ongoing joke was always that rugby was in fact the NZ Religion, and of course you don't mix Religion and Politics. Neither do you mix Politics into Rugby, that was the view of many rugby supporters and the various NZ governments too. Rugby was sacrosanct, rugby was above all that.

There was no professional sport in New Zealand back then. Even the wonderful rugby was played by 'amateurs' who worked full time jobs. It was clearly necessary to have nice rugby-friendly employers who would let their male employees off work for the months that the players might be away playing test matches overseas in Australia, or Britain, or South Africa. It was a big thing back then to be chosen to be an All Black and represent our country in other parts of the world.

But all through the sixties, seventies and into the eighties, the South African Springboks rugby team was always made up of only South African 'whites'. When they were challenged about this I remember they defended themselves by stating that the teams were chosen on merit and the 'Black' indigenous South Africans were not good enough to make the team. These statements may have had some truth in them because, after all, if people never get the opportunity to play, how do they became good enough to make the team.

Problems arose when our mixed race All Blacks team went to South Africa. The Maori members of the team had to be made "honorary whites" so that they could use the same facilities and stay in the same hotels as the Pakeha/NZ European players rather than being made to use the sub-standard facilities provided for South Africa's indigenous African people.

I remember this issue being hotly debated in our Social Studies classroom in my third form year (1971) in high school. That year a spokeswoman from HART (Halt All Racist Tours) came to speak to the whole school about the appalling conditions in South Africa for the indigenous people, with pictures of their living conditions etc, and why we should support HART's protests against rugby tours to and from South Africa.

There was a kind of impromptu feel to the thing really; my class arriving for our double period in the science lab had been told, leave your bags and go to the hall, so we had done just that. When we returned we were faced with an agitated science teacher, (he had been standing at the back of the hall), who happened to be a 'white' South African. He said, "I am not allowed to speak politics to you but that was not the whole truth, it's not balanced, it is not just as she says". That moment has become one of those annoying little things that sticks in my mind for years, coming back to me out of the blue, such as when I am reading this book by Nelson Mandela, for example. I have often wondered what my science teacher would have said back then. Would he have tried to justify The Apartheid Regime and if so, how? How could anyone defend such an immoral and indefensible position?

By 1973, feelings about the Apartheid issue and rugby were running so high that the then Labour Prime Minister, Norman Kirk, worried about the potential violence and the divisiveness, cancelled a planned Springbok tour to this country.

The 1977 Commonwealth Gleneagles agreement which finally banned all sporting contact with South Africa intensified the divisions here, with stubborn diehards who still attempted to make a 'politics should be kept out of sport' stand, looking more and more out of touch with the reality that the rest of us lived in.

1977 was also the year Steve Biko died in a Pretoria prison cell. He had been detained and interrogated four times between August of 1975 and September of 1977 under the Apartheid era anti-terrorism legislation. On the 7th of September, "Biko sustained a head injury during interrogation, after which he acted strangely and was uncooperative. The doctors who examined him (naked, lying on a mat, and manacled to a metal grille) initially disregarded overt signs of neurological injury." But by the 11th of September Biko had slipped into a continual semi-conscious state and the police physician recommended that he be transferred to hospital. Instead Biko was transported 1,200km to Pretoria, a 12 hour journey which he made while lying naked in the back of a Land Rover. A few hours later, on the 12th of September, alone and still naked, and lying on the floor of his cell in the Pretoria Central Prison, Biko died from brain damage. The brutality of the circumstances surrounding Biko's death caused a worldwide outcry. Biko became a Martyr and Symbol of Black Resistance to the Oppressive Apartheid Regime. Anybody who hadn't noticed the dysfunction by now was truly an Ostrich.

We seemed to have a lot of Ostriches in New Zealand back then.

Despite all of that, the New Zealand Rugby Football Union, (NZRFU, a flock of Ostriches if ever you saw them), under the apparent benevolent gaze of the Prime Minister Robert Muldoon, (yet another Ostrich), and his right-wing National government, went right ahead with planning a Springbok Rugby Tour for 1981. Jock Phillips later wrote that Rob Muldoon was apparently of the 'old guard' who thought that New Zealand should stand staunchly side by side with [white] South Africa because both countries had fought side by side as allies in the 2nd World War.

Which is an interesting thought when you remember that those who were running the Apartheid regime had actually voted against fighting with the Allies in the 2nd World War. In fact they thought that Hitler and his fascist Nazi party's Aryan views were completely the right idea.

1981 was the year that Diana married Charles, Prince of Wales. I watched that wedding on a Christchurch Women's Hospital telly with my one-day-old daughter in my arms.

But from May until September, (the winter months of 1981), the New Zealand nightly news and our newspapers were filled with images of police and protesters fighting on the streets, images of our police dressed in riot gear and carrying long batons, images of battered and bleeding protesters. Despite the fact that the Springboks had actually brought along a 'token' Black this time, (too little too late), the first game to be played in Gisborne in May had to be cancelled when protesters (some had bought tickets, others stormed the fences), mobbed onto the field and the pilot of a light plane circling overhead threatened to fly it into the main stadium killing the spectators. (The twin tower thing in New York wasn't an original idea, just bigger).

This surely wasn't New Zealand, not the way we knew it.

All of this was televised live in New Zealand and in South Africa. To this day I have no idea what the South Africans made of it.

Of course the law had to be upheld, insisted the government. It was the youngest, fittest policemen, some hardly out of basic training who were put onto the frontline. Large numbers of police were flown from city to city wherever the latest game was being held. In the end the government upholding the rights of rugby supporters to watch rugby whatever the cost and therefore supplying our policeman as security and enforcers cost us tax payers more than fifteen million NZ dollars.

My father was a policeman. Because he was a middle aged man he wasn't out there on the streets in front of protesters. Instead the older policemen worked long hours into the night filling in the gaps of the policing that the younger cops would normally have been doing. We hardly saw my dad that winter. When the Springboks played down here in Christchurch my father was right there at Lancaster Park but he didn't see the game. A long blue line of police encircled the field but their eyes were not on the game. The whole time they watched the spectators, they were watching for signs of trouble, in case protesters had bought tickets and tried to rush onto the field. My father said the tension there was so heavy you could have cut the air with a knife.

My soul was with the protesters. If it wasn't for my tiny child I would have been out there on the streets too. I still have a residual guilt about not being there.

This tour should never have been allowed to happen, my father said.

Friday, 10 August 2012

The World The RIGHT Way Up or The Downunder Folk Are Revolting

Behold here is a map of the world as I reckon it should look! Totally perfect! I reckon it looks great. Aotearoa/New Zealand is now on top of the world where it belongs.

I am not alone in thinking this way either. The map above was actually created by one young Stuart McArthur of Melbourne, Australia. When he actually drew his first "right side up" map at the age of twelve years old his geography teacher told him to redraw his assignment the "correct" way up if he wanted to pass the subject. Years later while attending Melbourne University,  he produced the world's first modern "south up" map, and launched it on Australia Day in 1979.

Here's the thing. There is no particular reason why the Northern hemisphere should be perceived as being "up" or "on top" of the planet nor is this perspective necessarily "correct". Equally there is no reason why the South should be seen as "below" or "downunder" as it is often described as being. This is a convention that has taken place over a few centuries now, when northern hemisphere navigators started using the North Star and Magnetic compass.

Before that, the top of the map was to the East which is where the word orientation comes from. The perception therefore of North as "above" is a eurocentric idea, and because most of us in this modern westernised world grow up in cultures where this view is familiar, we "believe" unquestioningly that it is the only view.

So in Biblical Times the evidence from the Torah showed  that east was at the top of all maps. (At least this is how it was told to me, I am no biblical scholar myself). In Genesis when Abraham's nephew, Lot, is captured in war and carried away and Abraham races to the rescue, when he and his men catch up with Lot's captors and set him free, this happens in "Chovah which is to the left of Damascus." (Gen. 14:15). Chovah is north of Damascus. In Psalms 89:13 it says, "The north and the right, You created them". This implies that right is synonymous with south, so you are facing east when you read the map.

People in Ancient Arabia placed south at the top. This is because when you wake up (in Arabia) and face the sun, south is on the right. Because of positive associations with the right as opposed to left, they put that on top. Yemen is so named because it is on the "yamin" right of Arabia. And of course, with the sea to the south of them there was nothing "on top" of the country, so they preferred it that way.

The Ancient Chinese were the first to invent the compass, which they always thought of as pointing south. To them, South was a sacred direction, and in ceremonies, the king would always face south. (Living in the southern part of our world, in the South Island of Aotearoa/New Zealand even, I'm inclined to like this idea).

In Medieval Europe cartographers always drew Jerusalem on top of their maps because that was the Holy Land. This meant that east was more or less at the top. Again.

And in Aotearoa/New Zealand, the area where New Zealand's capital city Wellington now stands was known to our first nations people (tangatawhenua) as Te Upoku O Te Ika (the Head of the Fish). This fish - as we all know from the Maui legend - is the North Island of New Zealand. But when we look at the now "normalised" modern map of our world it shows the head of the fish facing "down" towards Antarctica; the tail of the fish is on the northern end of the fish body. The problem here is that in the Maori view of the sacred and profane (tapu and noa), the head can never below the tail. One does not, for example, place your bum on a pillow where your head may later lie. In Maori cosmology, therefore, the head of the fish has to be on the "above" and southern end of the North Island. South is pointing upwards and now the Antarctic is on the "top of the world", as shown in the McArthur map.

Hone Tuwhare (1922 - 2008)

Yesterday, (16th January, 2008), Hone Tuwhare, one of New Zealand's most distinguished Maori poets, playwright, and writer of short fiction died in his sleep. He was 85 years old.

Hone Tuwhare was born in Kaikohe in 1922, into the Nga Puhi tribe (hapu Ngati Korokoro, Ngati Tautahi, Te Popoto, Uri-o-hau). His first published collection, No Ordinary Sun, appeared in 1964 to widespread acclaim and was reprinted ten times during the next thirty years—one of the most widely read individual collections of poems in New Zealand history. Throughout his lifetime, he was actively involved in Maori cultural and political initiatives.

His work has been described thus:

"When Tuwhare’s poems first began to appear in the late 1950s and early 1960s they were recognised as a new departure in New Zealand poetry, cutting across the debates and divisions between the 1930s and post-war generations. Much of their originality came from the Maori perspective. This was not simply a question of the subject matter of some poems (‘Lament’, a reworking of an older *waiata tangi, ‘Tangi’ and ‘Mauri’), but of their direct lyrical response to landscape and seascape, their vivid evocation of Maori myths and images (‘A burnt offering to your greenstone eyes, Tangaroa’), and their capacity for angry protest at the dispossession of Maori land and culture (‘The mana of my house has fled, / the marae is but a paddock of thistle’). The poems were also marked by their tonal variety, the naturalness with which they could move between formal and informal registers, between humour and pathos, intimacy and controlled anger (as in the anti-nuclear theme of the title-poem of the first volume, ‘No Ordinary Sun’) and, especially, in their assumption of easy vernacular familiarity with New Zealand readers."

Below, are two of his poems:

Toroa ~ Albatross

Day and night endlessly you have flown effortless of wing
over chest-expanding oceans far from land.
Do you switch on an automatic pilot, close your eyes
in sleep, Toroa?

On your way to your homeground at Otakou Heads
you tried to rest briefly on the Wai-te-mata
but were shot at by ignorant people. Crippled.
You found a resting place at Whanga-nui-a-Tara;
found space at last to recompose yourself.

Now, without skin and flesh to hold you together
the division of your aerodynamic parts lies whitening,
licked clean by sun and air and water. Children will
discover narrow corridors of airiness between,
the suddenness of bulk. Naked, laugh in the gush
and ripple — the play of light on water.

You are not alone, Toroa. A taniwha once tried
to break out of the harbour for the open sea. He failed.
He is lonely. From the top of the mountain nearby he
calls to you: Haeremai, haeremai, welcome home, traveller.

Your head tilts, your eyes open to the world.

To a Mäori figure cast in bronze outside the Chief Post Office, Auckland

I hate being stuck up here, glaciated, hard all over
and with my guts removed: my old lady is not going
to like it

I’ve seen more efficient scarecrows in seedbed
nurseries. Hell, I can’t even shoo the pigeons off

Me: all hollow inside with longing for the marae on
the cliff at Kohimarama, where you can watch the ships
come in curling their white moustaches

Why didn’t they stick me next to Mickey Savage?
‘Now then,’ he was a good bloke
Maybe it was a Tory City Council that put me here

They never consulted me about naming the square
It’s a wonder they never called it: Hori-in-gorge-atbottom-
of-hill. Because it is like that: a gorge,
with the sun blocked out, the wind whistling around
your balls (your balls mate) And at night, how I
feel for the beatle-girls with their long-haired
boyfriends licking their frozen finger-chippy lips
hopefully. And me again beetling

my tent eyebrows forever, like a brass monkey with
real worries: I mean, how the hell can you welcome
the Overseas Dollar, if you can’t open your mouth
to poke your tongue out, eh?

If I could only move from this bloody pedestal I’d
show the long-hairs how to knock out a tune on the
souped-up guitar, my mere quivering, my taiaha held
at the high port. And I’d fix the ripe kotiro too
with their mini-piupiu-ed bums twinkling: yeah!

 Somebody give me a drink: I can’t stand it

A Lofty Mountain

"Whaia te iti kahurangi ki te kuoho koe me maunga tei tei".

This is a Maori proverb, in English it translates as:

"Follow your dreams, if you have to bend or bow, let it be to a lofty mountain".

...and I am quite sure the Christchurch-based artist, Jude Blake, must have had that proverb in her mind when she painted this picture "CLOUDS OF HEAVEN" ... "The Clouds Of Heaven Settle Only On The Peaks Of Lofty Mountains"

The End

The world had already been told that the end was coming, we had heard it on the news via the radio, via the tv, via the internet. But we did not know whether to really believe it or maybe it was just more lies created to further someone's obscure political ends; to be honest we did not want to believe, and in any case, we really could not comprehend the enormity of what we had been told.

Because what we had been told was terrifying in its finality.

We had been told that "up there" somewhere the bombs had been thrown, so many of them that the nuclear fallout would engulf us all, that there was absolutely no chance of our survival. There was no longer contact with the upper hemisphere. My internet no longer worked.

We were told last night via the local Christchurch radio stations that the nuclear fallout was due to arrive here in Christchurch at about 9.30am; the Mayor speaking her message in measured controlled tones, (in effect because the fallout had already suffocated most of the rest of human life on the globe, she was now the world leader by default). But somehow this was all to unreal to us, we did not know what to do.

Because this had never happened before, we had no idea of how to act.

So we did our normal things. It was a weekday so we went to work, because if it was not true and how could it be, then we could not afford to take the day off work when we had bills to pay. We could not risk losing our jobs by skiving away from work. So here we were, in the factory and our children were at their schools.

A peculiar atmosphere pervaded the factory, feelings of uncertainty and tension. Some people worked as normal, hard and fast, making their bonuses, and becoming more and more annoyed at those of us who were working more desultorily, clearly uncertain as to whether they should be here in the factory at all, wondering if they should have stayed at home with their families. I remember I started to work at my normal speed, then slowed, and at length stopped altogether, listening instead to the factory radio.

At 9:15am the factory hooter blew. Over the intercom a disembodied voice told us to go and spend our last fifteen minutes of life outside in the last sunshine we would ever see. We filed out.

It was a beautiful spring day outside in the factory garden. The sky was blue and cloudless, the sun still shone. We all stood around on the green grass, in small groups, wondering what to do now. Some of the women wanted to go back inside and thoroughly clean the factory. They wanted to leave all in order for the next people to work in the factory, in case we really did die. They were unable to comprehend that there would be no next people, that what was imminent was the finish, the end of all human life on this planet forever.

I lit a cigarette and wandered down beside the river, choosing to be on my own. I stood under a tree, near a bridge, and listened to the birds chirping in the trees, suddenly realising that they were unlikely to survive the fallout either. I could hear the sound of vehicles travelling along the nearby road just as they always did. And I thought about my children in the playground at their school, probably playing in separate areas. I thought about the three of us all dying in separate places and afraid. I thought about their fear. I realised how stupid I was to be here when we should have been together.

But then also, I knew that if I left to go to the school, and then the world did not end, and life did not finish, and the fallout did not arrive, then I would lose my job when the hooter called us back into the factory.

Another woman had walked down to the river now, and I asked her what the time was. She checked her watch and told me the time was now 9:25am, and I knew the school was ten minutes away by car, and of course I do not own a car, so now I could not get there in time anyway.

So I thought about my children who would have to die on their own and I fully realised my own incompetence and failure, and suddenly I really knew it was all true, and we were all going to die, and the birds and animals were all going to die, and maybe the trees and plants as well. I tried to visualise what kind of barren wasteland would be left, and tried to imagine if any form of life would ever exist on this planet again, and how many millions of years it would be before any kind of life could evolve. And then I could no longer bear my thoughts and i walked back up to the gardens and away from the river, back to where the other people were all still milling around, some talking together in nervous whispers, others just standing silently.

And then I turned and looked behind me and I saw the end arrive.

I saw a seemingly impenetrable, metallic yellowish-grayish mist come rolling in, a mist with a sound like static, hissing and crackling as it seemed to slide along just above the surface of the grass. As it travelled thickly along its implacable path towards us and all the landscape was blotted out behind it, it seemed therefore to increase in size, becoming ever thicker, larger and higher, blotting out the sun and sky too so that they could no longer be seen. I felt my own horror as I heard the gasps of horror from the people around me, and I saw people starting to run, even found myself foolishly starting to back away when there was absolutely no escape, no possible retreat, nowhere to go. And then a woman seized my arm from behind and pulled me with her into a small hollow on the side of the hill, as though to gain a few more totally pointless seconds of life, and then I saw the mist circling around at the entrance of the hollow. I smelt its foul stink, and I felt the stinging sensation of moist chemicals as the mist swirled onto my skin and burnt my eyes.

And I wanted to be holding my children.

There was a Duck ...

This pretty duck featured on an early blog on my Yahell 360 when I was still finding my way. She became a bit of a legend with some of my readers back then, so I could not leave her behind. And now the Multiply social networking site is closing on the 1st of December 2012 so I am saving her again. And my memory with my friend Helluvahgirl, otherwise known as Helly.

Besides ... (I wrote in early Multiply days) ... I saw her yesterday while I was mowing my lawn, she was in the long grass of the back paddock with her newest infants. Her mate was perched on a farm fence post, near to the cows drinking trough, keeping watch.

Its not easy taking pictures of wild birds. Since I tried it I have a lot more respect for professional wildlife photographers. If you don't have the really flash camera gear, or the time to stake out a spot and the patience to wait till your bird hoves into view, you become instead, an opportunist, grabbing your picture when you can.

So last year, when this duck who normally hangs out with her mate in the farm paddocks around us, decided early one morning to come through the wire fence, and check out my gardens, and then perched herself for a birds-eye view of her surrounds on the trellis right here, and very close to the house, despite the alarmed protests of her mate screeching from the paddock edge, we just had to get this photo. Isn't she beautiful?!

This is a New Zealand native duck, her Maori name is Putangitangi but renamed Paradise Shelduck since European colonisation. The female Putangitangi has this distinctive white head and neck, the male has a black head. They mate for life although if she loses her mate, she will love again. Two seasons ago this bird lost her mate during duck shooting season so she is on a second marriage now.

Putangitangi are seen in pairs or in flocks on farmland, or by lakes, ponds, or high country river beds. This duck has her nesting site somewhere in the paddocks behind my house so we see her every spring. She always returns to the same nesting site.

It's easy to see why these ducks got their Maori name, they are extremely articulate birds who are continuously talking or calling out to each other whether on the ground or in flight. Most of the time while one bird is feeding, the other is on lookout duty.

Putangitangi, (there is no pluralising 's' in te Reo Maori), are one of the few native species that seem to have actually benefited from colonisation because they like the open farmland spaces. They graze on the grass and clover, on seeds and stubble, and also like to chomp on standing crops of peas or grain crops. They also eat aquatic vegetation. They are only partially protected. Fully grown birds stand about 63 centimetres high, the adult male weighing in at about 1700 grams, the female at 1400 grams. Breeding season is in the spring from August till December.

Despite the fact that you know they are there, you really don't get to see her babies because she protects them so well, which led to a conversation with my friend "Helly" and to this poem...

blobs in the tall grass

she said:

i liked your blog about the duck.

and i said:

the duck now has two babies.

and she said:

take a photo for the blog.

but i said:

she won’t get close enough to allow me
to photograph her babies
so all you would see is blobs in the tall grass.

and then she said:

that makes a nice poem
“blobs in the tall grass."
you should write that poem broom.
it would be a blob blog.

and we laughed and our yahell emotes rolled around our pm window, cackling in hysteria.

and she said:

you could always take a pic of them
as if it is a study
almost like a baby’s eyes
waking to the world…

and i said - still laughing -

i will have to blog this now

and she, continuing her thought, said:

yeah, before they grow up and fly away
they might move on and become some
other persons blob blog

she said:

this poem is writing itself broom.

and we laughed again, our yahell emotes rolled around our pm window, cackling hysterically.

and Helly...

you are the light that reaches down
into the murk of my own making
and I want you to know how special you are

through the deep times and the silly times.