The Seven Seas of Pohangina Valley
By Will Munford
Me and Matt were once miniatures in this playground. Now we're giants. It’s not
changed much, the bark still pinches, the three structures still stand – made of red corrugated
iron roofs, wood, ramps, ladders, steps and slides. When we would play, every day it
transformed: ruins of a city, a spacecraft, a castle, a house, a ship. Now it’s just a playground.
“We used to sail across the seven seas on this”
“What?” Matt looks up and finishes a cig roll. He doesn’t usually smoke, and it looks like a
bent palm tree. We know we are alone, but we both look around to see if a teacher is here.
“We used to sail this; I think we called our ship the Sarah-Jade. We would argue over who was
the captain and who was the first mate”
“Don’t remember” Matt coughs.
I crack a beer and hand the six pack over. He declines.
There is not much sound around our old school–three classrooms line together with a small
library and office-come-staffroom tagged on. The fields, the buildings and playground are all
boxed in by rows of macrocarpa, flax bushes and a patch of feijoa trees. It’s a rural school but
to me it still feels like the centre of the world.
“I remember Miss Robbie” Matt Says.
“Yeah, she didn’t like you. She smashed that window once to try and get your attention”
“Yeah, she cut her finger.”
We remember the cut and we remember the scar that grew on Miss Robbie’s finger. Curved
like a smile; you could see it when she pointed right at you and yelled. The whole two years
she taught at the school, she got closer and closer. One day I thought she would pop one of our
eyes right out with one of those long red nails.
“You know, there is still time, you could run away, hop on White mask and ride off into the
sunset” I say.
“Mate, White Mask is dead, and she was a cow anyway”
“Well, if you change your mind, Kakaw and I’ll either break you out tonight or crash the
“I’ll be fine. It feels right”
He was engaged that long to her that I really thought it wouldn’t happen. Thought we would
have time for one last adventure, but It had been a year since I last saw him.
“Sure you don’t want one of these?”
I crack another can.
“Nah, mate. It’s getting dark. I’ll head back. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“All good. Remember, kakaw if you need me”
Matt leaves. I sit still on the ramp with my hands on the wood; close my eyes and breath deep.
In and out. In and out. From my spot everything stretches out. I don’t need to open my eyes to
see. Next to the school is the road, and the road stretches grey-black down into the valley and
in the middle of valley is a great river that divides every thing down the middle and all around
the green hills remain massive; it all remains mine; mine forever.
Will Munford studies at Massey University in Auckland but was born in the Manawatū, grew up in the Pohangina Valley.