Quiet. Work In Progress.

I have work to do. However, the fact that this is not my wheelbarrow but my neighbour’s probably speaks louder than words re this work involving any personal gardening efforts. A clue -: the work I am talking about does not involve gardening.

OK, maybe a little bit. The only gardening I have promised myself this season, is tending to the raspberry bushes I planted for my daughter in law Jenny J. from Germany. She asked for some for her birthday last year. For me they symbolise the hope and dream that she and my son and their three children will one day all be able to pick the fruit, in person. One day.

I am aiming to expand the number of berry bushes we have – adding more raspberry and blueberries to the space. Also, there has been a request for a cherry tree. I need to seek out one that will a) grow in the southern, colder climes and b) taste sweet. May be a hard ask.

Only one of these bonny flowers remains now, its petals due to fall any day – either on their own or assisted by the wind that is forecast. The tulip bulbs I planted in April have given me almost two months of pleasure. Pink, cream and yellow; each colour respectively flowering in their own unique time – this delay according to colour was something I never expected. However, a delightful surprise.

Tulips remind me of my mother. They return childhood memories to me; memories of tulips in the garden we had at Otama Valley. Appropriate, because part of the writing work I am presently engaged with is based in that quiet little place situated in Northern Murihiku Southland.

Paua. This shell that may or may not be associated with our newest grandchild. My favourite shell. I love the shimmer of blue, green, pink and purple colours and how unique the tone each shell displays; from pale mother of pearl through to the deeper and vibrant kingfisher hues. (Which is also a sneaky reference to my w.i.p.)

Standing with the Queenstown Kaai Taahu / Ngaai Taahu installation featuring pounamu mauri stone. Feeling for the magic while behind me early evening drinkers and revellers at the Pig & Whistle make a racket. Worlds colliding!

The information sign reads:

‘Kei hea koe i te maru awatea

Rere whakakau i te Whakatipu

Kia tae ki uta

Tahuna tonu ko too ahi

E Haki, e ara e!

Our tuupuna (ancestors) journeyed across these lands leaving markers of our identity in the names and stories of our peaks, valleys, rivers, lakes and oceans.This place signals a re-visoning of tradition, a reinvestment of Ngaai Tahu tribal identity, pride and spirit into the land.

The artworks in this place celebrate the story of Hakitekura, the daughter of Kaati Maamoe chief Tuuwiriroa, and the first person to swim across the lake, Whakatipu-wai-maaori. Her feat is immortalised in many of the names draped upon the land, names which have inspired new expressions of old stories.

The pounamu mauri stone, which you are encouraged to touch, was sourced from a high mountain peak at the head of Whakatipu-wai-maaori. This stone, Manatunga, connects all who touch it to its source.’

Sculpture that relates to this same artwork installation. This is just one of the many different spheres that line the stream running through the middle of Queenstown’s shopping centre. Combined, they each depict an aspect of the story of Hakitekura’s swim across Lake Whakatipu-wai-Maaori. Artist: Ross Hemera (Ngaai Taahu, Ngaati Mamoe, Waitaha)

Meanwhile back home and back inside, the focus is all on getting on with the work of writing my second novel. My work in progress. This may keep me quiet for quite some time.


Writer from Dunedin, New Zealand.

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