new zealand electronic poetry centre



T A ' I    G E O R G E

Ta‘i George writes: “My mother is from Pukapuka and my father from Atiu, in the Cook Islands. They were part of the wave of Polynesians who arrived in Auckland during the 1950s. It wasn’t very long before they bought a house in the then brand new suburb of Otara and they live there still. So, I’m a ‘South Auckland gal’ born and bred. For the past sixteen years I’ve lived in Wellington.”

My Mother’s Coat

As a child
I felt protected and warm
in my mother’s coat
It must have looked funny
Big brown eyes
Peering from its folds
As if that was all there was
to me

I remember
Its unique threads
Unusual and coarse
Their slenderness
belied their strength
Its tı¯vaevae-like panels
of thin fabric
An effective shield
against bitter winters
The colours loud
Shouting for attention
and space

My mother always wore
her coat with pride
by its highlighter effect
Marking her out
in a Papaā crowd
But blending beautifully
at every putuputuanga

I remember too
With youthful disdain
Discarding my mother’s coat
Not for me
The uncool design
extravagant colouring
and awkward fit
I did not want
to be marked
If only
I knew then
What I know now

She wears it still
Her brooch of pride
brilliant and bright
And not long ago
I tried it on
after many years
Although it’s not really me
It’s because of her
I can sew
my own



Last updated 04 July, 2004