new zealand electronic poetry centre



H O N E   T U W H A R E

Born in Kaikohe, New Zealand in 1922, Hone Tuwhare is of Ngā Puhi descent. His first poetry collection, No Ordinary Sun, was published in 1964 and he has since published Selected Poems (1980), Year of the Dog: Poems New and Selected (1982), Mihi: Collected Poems (1987), Short Back and Sideways: Poems & Prose (1992), Deep River Talk (1993), and Shape-Shifter (1997). He was awarded the Burns Fellowship in 1974 and his play, “In the Wilderness Without a Hat”, was published in He Reo Hou: 5 Plays by Maori Playwrights (1991). In 1999 Hone Tuwhare was named New Zealand’s second Te Mata Poet Laureate and in 2001 published Piggy Back Moon, which won the poetry category in the 2002 Montana New Zealand Book Awards.

Fifteen Minutes in the Life of Johannes H. Jean Ivanovich

It’s noon, already. My back and shoulders are bare, and i can feel
          the Sun nibbling me there – concentrated and thorough.

I’m pegging my clothes up on the line and thinking about what left-
          overs I could give away to my neighbour’s dog, or heat up for
          my own lunch. My clothes don’t look as if they’d been washed.
          It’s time I changed my brand of washing-powder. Coyly, I turn
          the holey side of my underpants away from my neighbour’s window
          doubling and pegging it up with a smooth, I-don’t-give-a-shit-flourish.

I turn around to face the Sun puffing my chest out, my belly in. My
          shorts drop down past my pito exposing some fringe-hair growing on
          my very own Mount of Eden where the original Battle of the Bulge
          really took place.

I toss the leftover pegs in the empty basin, walking back with it to
          the Crib at the front of the section. I own one sixth of an acre.
          I can’t get used to it. Earth Mum can’t be owned by selfish individuals.
          Secretly, I feel like a land-owning middle-class Kulak.

If I owned One Sixth of the World, I should be a high-up rangatira
          capitalist (living in the Kremlin) with lotsa classy woolly underwear
          flying triumphantly on the flagstaff in Moskva, and spelling
          out the message: UP THE INTERNATIONAL WORKING CLASS! The Navy
          flagstaff at Waitangi has set a great historical precedence – for
          the whole World – in enhancing the technique – brilliantly – of

Right now, the only Land Rights I can claim for sure – are lodged between
          my toes. I recognise my real mates, Maori AND Pakeha.
          Heaps of them. They own NO real property to speak of. You’ll
          find me – in them. It’s Classy, neo-Classical. My true identity.

The Sun seems friendlier now, licking my chest, my belly. I can still
          feel the skin of my shoulder and back tightening – wincing creepily
          without any control I might have to stop it. I wonder if the
          Sun has remembered to extract its teeth from my back.

I go inside clicking the hot-water jug on, dumping the basin in the
          tiny separate shower/wash/toilet space, which I call: a Complex.
          I hitch up my shorts, wrapping a belt around me. The elastic
          around the waist-band of my shorts has perished. I think I shall
          live, though. A positive feeling I get in my water.



Last updated 04 July, 2004