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Christmas Day

The separate families of the Harawene whanau
gather in front of the tree for their photos.

The long tables set with napkins, bottles of bubbly
and fizzy drinks from my childhood, have come back

to visit this place. I remember the weekend
when the marae reopened, and the dance on Saturday

when the air was filled with smoke and the floor
was covered with booze and sweat. Already

some of our elders have left from that time.
The kitchen at the back replaces the old open

fire with electric stoves and a furnace with
a gleaming flue. And the ablution block has

showers and new flush toilets. It's all very
swept up, and it takes a lot of cleaning.

When it comes my turn for the photo I'm in
the back row beside James next to the tree.


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