Te Moananui a Kiwa Kauwhakatuakina Jackson: Poroporoake

April 3rd 2022, Matahiwi Marae, Nā Karlo Mila.

Poet, Dr Karlo Mila is standing in front of Matahiwi Marae, sharing this poem for the final obituary at Moana Jackson’s tangihanga.
Dr Karlo Mila, Matahiwi Marae. Photo by Kassie Hartendorp.

Our final exhale

beyond the breath,

where we give ourselves up

in completion

to life.

Where everything that you are

leaves behind

everything that you were.

It is a spindrift

that rises,


that faithful friend

of the body.

Its soft limbs.

Its forgiving flesh.

Muscles, skin, sinews -

all that held you together -

so gently,

for so long.

A song

of water, blood, star, breath and bone.

We acknowledge all that you have left behind.

All that you have given,

and what a life you have seen,

and what a life you have been,

and how we have loved you.

We stay here,

with that precious vessel

that carried you

through this life,

but cannot carry you

into the next.

And may we who loved you,

holding your song,

the blood, star and bone vessel

of your being,

may we carry the meaning

of your life forward

into the world of light,

so that it will reach

those who come after.

He waka herehere ngā waka.

The vessel that binds us

to the great moving fleet.

He waka o Moana Nui-a-Kiwa.

He waka o Ātea-a-Rangi.

Moving between worlds.


Old star.

Shining One.

The ancients

walked ara tāwhito,

wading awa,

chanting the stars

into fresh waters,

calling, hauling

the shining ones,

pulled down by prayer

into the rivers of the whenua,

into the rivers of bloodlines,

for brief human cycles.

You, into the rivers of the Waiapu,

into Wairoa-hōpūpū-hōnengenenge-matangi-rau,

Tukituki and Ngaruroro.

You, who could feel

all that was filled with the telling,

translate, narrate,

enlightened: able

to hold the darkness

none of us should forget.

You who carried the dusk, diligently -

the soft, rebalancing darkness -

into rooms bright

with white and right,

and majority might,

into rooms blinded

with artificial light

claiming justice.

You, who could touch

the dark matter,

the dark energy,

between us –

illuminating pō

in all that white,

until it became palpable,


undulating slowly

from unconscious to conscious,

from invisible to visible.

Once it is seen,

it cannot be unseen.

You carried the weight and fate

of that long-lasting cloud,

imprinted with the soft gasps

of last breaths

of thousands

of broken-hearted.

How they breathed through you

into every room.

How they sought our silences,

found the right words in you,

singing a lament that bent

your tongue

to speak a star-compass

for finding our way home.

Ātea-a-Rangi here, in this sphere.

How they looked through your eyes into ours.

Watching for that quickening quantum movement

of mauri kore to mauri ora: soul retrieval

- the rising of the divine feminine — mana wahine –

the rebalancing of energies.

There is nothing natural

in, and on, and of,

this whenua

that does not mihi,

with us,

to you

in gratitude.


it is enough.


it is carried


You will forever be

standing on this paepae

with your singing words,

as we reference you endlessly,

ushering in the next wave of knowing.

You speak with

a congruency

a fluency,

a coherency

so rare, that we find our feet.

A whole generation now see themselves

through your matapihi:

double visioned, a critical lens,

stereoscopic –

what we see,

and what we could see -

if we were to dream with clarity.

We gather here, armed,

assembled, weapons in hand.

A taua wielding words and logic,

clauses and references,

and reasoning.

None of us afraid

of the sound of our own voice.

For you’ve carved

open neural pathways:

illuminated runways

lit with ancient fires

for flying waka

out of the mouths-of-babes -

this nek-generation

speaking revolution,

revising constitution,

ancient intentions

ancestral inventions.

The gifting of your knowing -

into the rivers of whakapapa -

into the shape of preserved, curving words,

into an awa of re-imagining,

into unblocked neural pathways,

into bloodstreams of hope.

Travelling the long arc of justice

inevitably involves a return

to centre.

When we enter the awa of bloodlines,

there is only so much pushing upstream

the flow of life will allow.

Patricia writes:

“There is no great distance in the reaching

because we are our own tupuna.”

That old double-spiral.

We close our eyes now,

feel the galaxy ever accelerating and expanding through us…

How simply we have felt this momentum

through you.

We close our eyes,


to the flow of natural currents,

we re-enter

the rolling ocean of galaxy,

waves of night

clustered with stars

to the constellations

beyond our dreams,

bursting with beginnings.

We return

enroute to the


of every-living-thing.

Reaching up

through the dark womb

to the tipuna stars

who birthed us,




remembering finally,


and what

we are.



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