ngaa waana

Three poems By Vaughan Rapatahana

ki te roto ahau.

e kite ana ahau

ngaa waana.

kei te ikiiki raatou i ahau.

ko he tangata kee ahau.


e tere ana raatou

enanga nei he merekara.

e puumau whakahirahira

ana raatou.

ko te maaoriori raatou.


e kite ana ahau

ngaa waana.


ko he whakakitenga.


ko he tangata

pai kee atu ahau.

[Translation from te reo Maaori to English]


the swans


I am at the lake.


I observe

the swans.


they transport me.

I am another man.


they glide

as if a miracle.

they exist


they are serene.


I observe

the swans.


it is epiphany.


I am

a better man.]

kei muri Ōtautahi

[after Christchurch]

after Christchurch,

scurried the disclaimers

‘this is not new zealand.’


but it is.

it has been for far too long now.

we own, all by ourselves


- the highest rate of intimate partner violence in the developed world+.

- the highest death rate for teenagers in the developed world#.

- the highest youth suicide rate in the developed world*.

- the third highest rate of child maltreatment in the entire world*.

you respond with a

‘terrible yes, but surely not as heinous as

the massacre at the mosque.’



kei mua Ootautahi

he maha ngaa parekura


Handley’s Woolshed!


all victims with the same skin colour,

all murdered by white men with guns.


ko Aotearoa teenei

moo he taima tino roa.

rawa roa.

[Translation from te reo Maaori to English]



kei mua Ootautahi

he maha ngaa parekura.


before Christchurch

there were many massacres


ko Aotearoa teenei

moo he taima tino roa.

rawa roa.

this has been Aotearoa

for a very long time,

too long.]


[+Read New Zealand Herald 27/03/2017.

#Listen to Newstalk ZB 26/02/2019.

*See Shockingly Bad New Zealand Statistics online.]


Vaughan Rapatahana (Te Aatiawa) commutes between homes in Hong Kong, Philippines and Aotearoa New Zealand. He is widely published across several genre in both his main languages, te reo Maaori and English and his work has been translated into Bahasa Malaysia, Italian, French, Mandarin.

be kind to your younger self.

they did not know.

be forgiving

of their foolish acts.


the ideals


the hopes


by the seiche

of cynicism.


the bonds


the alliances

seized gelid

in the chill

of decennaries.



who you once were.

be generous

to that former self,

in a coloratura

to that unversed mimic

no longer gazing back

from the mirror.