new zealand electronic poetry centre



T R A C E Y   T A W H I A O

Tracey Tawhiao of Ngaiterangi and Tūwharetoa has a BA LLB from the University of Auckland. She spends a lot of time doing work for her tribal trust. Tracey began writing poetry five years ago and for two years performed her poetry before stopping to reflect and to write a novel. With her husband, she is travelling in France to promote a Polynesian hip-hop music label and bring Polynesian music to the world.

A Lawyer and a Builder

My uncle drives out to my house with his mate a builder
They talk in builder talk where a variety of grunts has meaning
I wonder whether I should do the girl thing and make a cuppa tea
Instead I dare to be unlike what they were expecting and grunt too
They look a bit confused but I think they are just confused by my feminine accent
I try to get a grunt out with more resonance, more depth
Now they really are beginning to take a second look at me
I decide to talk in my own housewife-don’t-mess-with-me voice
“I really want to get rid of those aluminium windows, I want wooden ones”
If my uncle’s mate didn’t understand grunts, he understands this less
“Why you want to get rid of those for, you have to paint the wood ones every five years”
He shakes his head and looks suspiciously at my uncle, who looks away
We move into another room for his inspection, no cuppa tea closer
This looks good says the builder in animated tones, no grunting at all
I imitate my uncle’s no nonsense voice this time, anything for a kick, I am a housewife
I want all that concrete exposed and that ceiling replaced, that wall out but then I smile pleasantly
The grunting starts again, they don’t want me to understand
My uncle takes his mate outside and I hear him say
I told you she was different, she can’t just have any old builder
She needs someone who won’t talk down to her, who won’t mind her being odd
She’s always been different this one, my uncle looks over to me
She might not sound altogether but she’s a lawyer, yeah man she is
They both look at me so I smile and say, Cuppa tea, I’ll just put the jug on.



Last updated 04 July, 2004