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The Prophet Rua

Rua. Housed in the Waikato amongst
the taonga of that people. Looking
through a glass installation at the river,
dirty now, but the people remain. One

of them stands beside the waka commissioned
by Princess Te Puea, a revered mother of all
Maori people. I am quiet. My Pakeha friends have
left me to consider this exhibition on my own,

which gives me time and space to wander. I look
at him, but cannot say I am Ngapuhi, which is my own
self-judgement. One of my tupuna, it is rumoured,
ended his life in this land; they skinned

his intricately carved buttocks, covered
a calabash with them, took his tongue,
used it for the handle, boiled the rest, poured
him in, rowed to the middle of a lake and threw it.

His descendants still pay for the rumoured myths.
I leave the Waikato exhibits and begin the journey
to the land of Urewera, Tuhoe, the people,
the Ringatu faith, the people of Rua and peace.

They have erected a large-scale house of cards,
there is talk of Rua's imprisonment for not
holding a liquor licence. The Pakeha
trump up the charge -- they want Rua to fight.

There is a recording of the policemen
who arrested Rua saying excessive force
was used. There is a poem by David Eggleton,
artwork by Ralph Hotere. Many artists

focus on the community he created, in photos,
sculpture, Rua is important. I really am
an Auckland tourist. My chest is hot and filled.
I am speechless with knowledge. My tongue is out.

 


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