Motu Kōkako

Motu Kōkako
(or Piercy’s Island)

For the tripper, the snapper, the cruising tourist,
A jaunt to the hole in Piercy’s rock
Is a hollow pilgrimage.
How can a passage through emptiness
Rock a vacation haven,
Sailing a bay frilled with islands?
But when the engine’s cut,
Bobbing the boat through the airy arch,
The hole to nowhere
Becomes a gate to somewhere
A portal to the ocean’s vastness
Where unbroken horizons are stretched to heaven.
And nothing to see but sea.
Easier then to avert one’s gaze,
Wheel the vessel and head for shore,
Deny the shallowness of the day’s excursion,
Leave Tūnui-a-rangi’s venturing
Over the unmapped deep
To the mists of history.

The Pacific’s restless rolling
Caresses Motu Kōkako’s seaward face.
These windless days
When the swell has settled,
A cave’s accessible to those who quest.
But to enter in the fleeting calm seems a trespass
For something rests in this vaulted space
Which quickens an atavistic sense.
This is a god’s abode.
The heaving water is to feel
The soughing, sighing, breathing
As spit sprays from the rock’s fissures
With each rasping exhalation.
To mock the primal urge
To sanctify the strangest spaces
Is the escape of a sceptic.
There is no escape.
Motu Kōkako’s pilgrim questions:
‘Who art thou?’
‘Whither goest thou?’
Are whispered with every wave
The long

Tūnui-a-rangi was the first Maori canoe to reach these shores.

The Long White Cloud, poems from Aotearoa