Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Te Rito o te Harakeke – A collection of writing for Ihumātao


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Cover art: ‘Pono’ by Maioha Kara (Waikato, Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Arawa and Ngāti Porou)


The contributors: Hana Pera Aoake, Hinemoana Baker, Cassandra Barnett, Tyson Campbell, Jacqueline Carter, Anahera Gildea, K-t Harrison, Rangimarie Jolley, Maioha Kara, Johanna Knox, Rāhiri Mākuini Edwards-Hammond, Anna McCallister, Donna McLeod, Kōtuku Titihuia Nuttall, Sinead Overbye, Tru Paraha, Michelle Rahurahu Scott and Lyssa Rogers-Rahurahu, essa may ranapiri, Serena Ngaio Simmons, Carin Smeaton, Stacey Teague, Ruby Mae Hinepunui Solly, Alice Te Punga Somerville, Tayi Tibble and George Watson


Note from the organisers (Rangatahi o te Pene, Hana Pera Aoake, Sinead Overbye, Michelle Rahurahu Scott and essa may ranapiri):


The book was produced in five weeks, and almost all of these pieces were written within a two week period.

Our aim was to bring together a wide range of Māori authors to respond to the events at Ihumātao, to show that Māori all have different voices and different perspectives, even though there are commonalities among us (i.e. ancestral trauma, the pain of which still runs through the core of the book). We brought together more established Māori authors to sit beside newer Māori voices, including poets who have never been published before.
The title Te Rito o te Harakeke comes from a well known whakatauki ‘Hutia te rito o te harakeke, kei whea te kōmako e kō? Kī mai ki ahau; He aha te mea nui o te Ao? Māku e kī atu, he tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata’. This translates as ‘If the heart of the harakeke was removed, where would the bellbird sing? If I was asked; What is the most important thing in the world? I would reply, it is people, it is people, it is people.’
At the core of the book is people. At the core of the movement at Ihumātao is people. We need to come together in times of struggle, in order to support each other to go on. That is what this book was about. The ‘rito’ of the harakeke refers not only to the ‘heart’ or ‘core’ of the harakeke, but also metaphorically to the younger generations in a whānau. The whakatauki, and the title of the book, therefore also implies that if we do not foster and support the younger generations, we will not progress as a people.
The organisers of this project- Hana Pera Aoake, Sinead Overbye, Michelle Rahurahu Scott and essa may ranapiri- did not edit or alter any of the kupu in the book. Each piece is published exactly as the artist intended. Each piece is perfect just as it is. As you read the physical copy, you will notice the hand-stitching, experimental formatting, and even a fold-out poem in the centre (as one of our poets desired the book to fold out from the book like a map). We wanted to maintain the integrity and mana of each piece of work. We wanted to create a space where every artist could express themselves exactly as they wanted.
There is grief at the heart of this book, and there is pain, but there is also hope. Out of this project, new friendships and connections have flourished. We are creating a space for ourselves, and we are creating new communities and opportunities. We hope that the book continues to be shared amongst friends and whānau. We hope that it sparks kōrero about our history, and that it helps to guide Māori who might otherwise feel alone.

No reira, we are very proud to have this book out in the world. He taonga ia.
Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, ēngari he toa takimano e – My strength is not mine alone, but the strength of many.


You may find more information about the pukapuka and how to get a copy here

essa may ranapiri’s poem here









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