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A MAORI BLOKE

No white, brown or brindle there mate
the colour of our blood all the same
if someone put a hole in you,
just ordinary blokes close bonded
by the warp and the woof
of living and surviving
the endless patrols.

All sharing the dreams of home
reflected in your young Maori eyes,
missing the green, green grass
and the warm embrace of our people.
Yes, we learnt a lot from each other
but never took away that which enhanced
our mana.

The long line of your warrior genealogy
teaching us Pakeha from your vast storehouse
of learnt experience;
how to be at home in the alien forest
with no totara or kauri on those ridges,
or friendly pungas. The pigeon we hunted
together could shoot back,
and he didn't care what colour
our skin was.

A long way from the carved door lintels
to the edge of your shell-scrape,
calm in your endurance and the waiting
on countless ambush laid on tracks;
the patu of your young souls
poised and hurled bravely
into the crucible of battle.
No tribal barriers in the fire-fight,
who cared who your grandfather was
as you struggled to live
and cursed together as mosquitoes
feasted without favour
on pus cut hands.

Looking forward to quieter times
in the tented lines of Nui Dat,
with the sweet sounds of your guitars
as we got drunk together
and flaked out beneath the rubber trees
looking up at the stars;
all the same but lit with different lights
as we slept in soldiers' exhaustion
a company of warriors upon
the leaf mould.

John A. Moller
Whiskey Two Company RNZIR

 

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