“Te Rerenga Wairua”

There’s a place of ancient myth

in the north of New Zealand

where spirits of the departed

take their final leave from

our land of the living and

plunge into the breakers

where Tasman meets Pacific,

forming whirlpools and whitewash

to wish the travellers well on

their way to the Three Kings

and lands we dare not know.

 

A single tree, old as the sea,

stands guard on the rocky point,

its roots forming stairs for

the descending dead as

they head for one more swim.

It has never flowered,

watching somberly as salty

winds blow across the shore,

leaving no room for life,

save that ancient pohutukawa,

sprung from the rock itself.

 

You can feel the Maori ancestors

in this leaping-off place of spirits,

keeping careful watch over the

clashing seas which guard

the gateway to another world,

just glimpsed in the dancing spray

of waves born in different oceans,

come to meet their end here

and guide the lost souls back

to their final resting place

deep beneath the rolling waters.

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