Cape Reinga

by Amanda Schader

In the beginning God created the heaven and the
earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and
darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the
Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was
light
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God
divided the light from the darkness (Genesis 1:1-4).

Here,

there is a light for all the world watching as tiki men
– with their tongues out, wagging in the direction of
challenge or fertility—walk the line merging
between the male and the female water.

Is this where Tāne became the tree that grew his
parents—Ranginui, Sky father, and Papatūānuku,
Earth mother—apart from their embrace? Is this
where the darkness became light and nothing
became the world? Where the children scattered to
claim rule, watch, over their portions? This place
where the Tasman hugs the Pacific, pulling the
world in a new embrace?

Lips stained permanent green like the jade near the
shore. Ink runs like water over sand at 90-mile
Beach, but the only green on this shore are pines
planted on kilometers, kilometers, kilometers of
sand.

Settlers walked the beach in three days, but we
drive over it in one on a coach bus with Bite and
Scratch, the bus drivers. British men, women,
children say they can walk thirty miles a day, walk
the beach in three, but the Kiwis tell us the damp
earth stretches for fifty-five miles.

The green lips, chin, are a Maori woman, but
Whakapapa—genealogy—is pricked across a man’s
whole face, rolls of baby silver ferns—koru—tell
the world who he is as nose touches nose touches
treaty giving sovereignty to one language and
chiefly authority to the one that was oral until the
reverend came with scriptures of translation.

Tikis with paua shell eyes walk the beach, cross
mountain dunes and fuzzy shadow of conifers and
hollowed-out whale carcass—stomach lining
bartered to cologne company for a year’s wages,
maybe more—to the tip of the big sting ray where
the New Zealand Christmas tree grows without
scarlet bursts of petals as it grips the rock tail of
Maui’s great fish.

The tikis walk—clawed hands on chest, stomach
and paua eyes wide—
to the edge where tourists’ cameras watch from the
lighthouse, the beam, that slices the darkness of
pre-creation as they climb down the tail for spirits

and they go back to where they began

as she wonders if Tāne is synonym for God.

 

Read an interview with Amanda here.

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