Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Game to the marrow"...Letter to the Seventh Generation...

Tena Koutou!
First, I hope you are lucky enough to speak the same language as everyone else on the planet. I hope they still have the words creole and bastard for this (they were all Peoples), and pidgin or slang, but if not I'm sure you have words of equal weight and beauty.

Second, because you have so much mail I will tell only one story. A Matariki dinner (and complete with Matariki Aspire vin) saw me at a table with seven, eight, then nine, of the most beautiful, intelligent, witty dining companions I have ever had the pleasure of breaking bread with. All women, all Maori. As a 21st centruy graduate of Canterbury University and its geography department the gender ratio was unusual but not especially so; it was once within the bounds of your tipuna's imagination! That they were Maori was notable but after all, it was an indigenous peoples conference in Aotearoa. I'm dead, not stupid.

No, it was the paucity of Maori men (initially at least, thankfully nga tane gravitated to our table after the second course and third drink...) that amazed me and, perhaps, disappointed my companions, for what is a ball for except to eat drink and meet members of a complementary orientation. (Of course maybe they did all meet companions of a complementary orientation; again this was once within the bounds of your koro's imagination). That was the night I saw a simple and abhorent truth: community is matriarchal/outside is patriarchal/violence will visit, from the latter to the first (not necessarily brought by pakeha, not necessarily by men), and children will be scared instead of sacred.

I hope they get the typography right on that one. This meant that I could only ever hope to Aspire to what the well-meaning pakeha researcher is to the Maori community, that is an Outsider, although useful for all that. I said to one of the speakers, sotte voce as the order of speaking was altered to give her more time, I will do as I'm told, and I meant it. It also means, from now on, I can only really speak for men.

Forgive your parents if their fears have become yours, they were my fears first of all. My fear of losing you and seeing you scared and scarred. I didn't want to lose any of you, but I lost you all, and I don't want any of my moko's to be scared but you all will be.

Third, a pepeha. Another man once said of our tipuna, who whaled on wooden ships powered by wind and muscle, “Game to the marrow, these fellows are generally selected for harpooners, a post in which a nervous, timid man would be rather out of his element.” Ironic that nervous, timid men should be so comfortable in the company of tyrants.

na et cetera
simon lambert
b. Wanganui, Oct. 17th, 1965.