Hone Tuwhare

I discovered Hone Tuwhare through a challenge I did on Writing.com (although growing up in New Zealand, I certainly knew the name).

Hone was born in New Zealand in 1922. He was the first poet of Maori descent to have his poetry published in English. He became interested in politics, particularly those affecting Maori, in the 1970s and became known as a political activist. He participated in the historical Maori land march in 1975 and fought for Maori representation in literature and arts. He served as New Zealand’s poet laureate and his poem ‘Rain’ was voted New Zealand’s favourite poem of all time. He died in 2008.

E, kui! What a way to bring the ‘House’ down. You could not
have lobbed a sweeter grenade. I’m all eared-in to you,
baby… Kia ora tonu koe.

~ From Rain-maker’s Song for Whina by Hone Tuwhare

 

I once wrote a short story about Dame Whina Cooper’s historical land march. She was nearly 80 years old when she marched 1000km (621 miles) to protest the Maori land that had been taken by the government. It was an epic feat for anyone, let alone a little old lady. She then addressed parliament in Wellington, and Hone’s poem above expresses his thoughts about her speech. The house he refers to is the ‘House of Parliament’. I didn’t know that Hone Tuwhare marched with Dame Whina, although of course it makes perfect sense given his own political activism. I love the reference to a ‘sweet grenade’. Fierce but in a way that made everyone respect her. Love it.

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