Koe higoa haaku Hiapo by Cora-Allan Wickliffe and Dr Jess Pasisi

Koe higoa haaku Hiapo by Cora-Allan Wickliffe and Dr Jess Pasisi

Ko e higoa haaku ko Hiapo
I was born from the hiapo, with bark pale and supple
I was stripped bare, and laid in the salty sea water
Then bundled and taken inland, to the freshwater

Rinsed of my salty skin I drew breath
My shape grew as the tutu began to beat
The sound of the ike echoing against the tutua
The women sang to us “Tutu-hiapo! Tutu-hiapo..
My mother painted me, her hand and mind steady
She adorned me with taro leaves, flowers, vines and
She wrote her name on me, and I felt complete

My majesty was displayed and the world took notice.

A Pālagi man came to me one day, he asked
to take me away

We knew it was time, so I took one last

as they folded me up and put me on the
Pālagi vaka

The darkness was heavy and the journey was

No one spoke to me, I didn't feel like talking

After many days and nights of swaying

I awoke to new sounds, new smells, a new

Pale hands touched me and stretched me out.
Pale faces screwed up looking at me, their eyes

They marvelled at me, admired me, said I was rare,
Said I needed to be kept safe.

So the Pālagi man put me in a case of glass
My beauty frozen in cold glares.
They said they knew all about me,
and wrote their words beneath my display.
I couldn't understand what they said so I closed
my eyes.

My song was gone, I didn't want to speak any more.
My patterns began to fade, my heart was longing.
They took me down one day, said I didn't look right
I was too quiet, room had to be made.
They folded me up and placed me in a white box.
I cried for my home, for my mother, my people,
I knew I would have to wait.

Much time passed, dust had creviced my body

One day I heard footsteps stop beside me.
I couldn't see the hands that took me from the shelf,

Strange new light peered in
and blue-gloved hands held
me gingerly.

Then I saw another face, not
pale like the others

but brown and friendly,
familiar, peeping over the
pale one.

“Be very careful!” said the
Pālagi, but she didn't

The palagi unfolded me
and began to tell the
brown girl my story.

But she was getting it

The brown girl said
Something to the Pālagi,

“I don't know, but I can
check” said the Pālagi as
she left for a moment.

The brown girl slipped off her blue glove
She touched me with her warm brown hand and

“Hina-e! Hina-o! Hina… come home hiapo

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