handleys woolshed, 1868

[The imperial gaze reflects the assumption that the white western subject is central – Ann E. Kaplan]
 

brave they were
kai iwi militia
slashing pre-pubescence
with scything saber,
their poltroon pale
raw fury
slitting & splitting
 
ngā tama iti        o
ngāti  ruanui   ngā  rauru  kītahi    te  āti  awa    taranaki
 
8 years old
 
maxwell was
undoubtedly the ‘hero’
of this
feral enfilade
 
they named him a town:
he
slurped this bloodthirst
first
 
10 years old
 
trampled little ākuhata herewini
swinging & stinging incarnadine
as he chopped
off
his head
like chaff
 
9 years old
7 years old
11 years old.
 
 
when
the words of Titokowaru
e kāore ahau e mate, kāore ahau e mate; ka mate ano te mate, ka ora ano a ahau
 
cleave
history,
 
lacerate
the imperial gaze
 
ka reka te utu, nē rā?
 
 
[e kāore ahau e mate, kāore ahau e mate; ka mate ano te mate, ka ora ano a ahau - I
shall not die; I shall not die. When death itself is dead I shall be alive.]
 
[ka reka te utu, nē rā - revenge will be sweet, is it not so?.]
 
 

 

(Poem Notes:    On 27 November 1868 a party of mounted Kai Iwi troopers – British colonialist militia – attacked a defenceless group of Māori boys playing at deserted Handley’s woolshed (near the master tactician Titokowaru’s Tauranga-ika marae) none of whom had yet reached their teenage years, none of whom were armed. Two boys were murdered outright, several others seriously wounded. Trooper George Maxwell received a commendation from his commanding officer at the time. Maxwell was not long after killed as he tried to steal a flag from a Maori pah on December 27. A nearby Taranaki town was named after him.
 
Few other than Māori remember the names of the little boys (ngā tama iti). Herewini, Takarangi, Kingi Takatua (also shot and sliced up dead), Ngārangi, Ngarutahi, Tāmou, Taria, Toheriri).

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