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A Mixed Marriage by Patricia Grace

This radio play is an adaptation of a novel by New Zealand writer Patricia Grace. It gives you an idea of some the challenges that might arise in a mixed marriage. Ripeka, a Maori, marries Graeme, a Pakeha. Ripeka finds that she is homesick for her family and traditional life.
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About the author

Patricia Grace is a New Zealand writer and an important figure in the rise and development of Maori fiction. Born to a Maori father and a European mother, Grace identifies herself as Maori. She is considered the first Maori woman writer and has given voice to the Maori people's distinct culture revealing to the larger world what it means to be Maori. Her books are strongly influenced by the Maori oral tradition. This radioplay, A Mixed Marriage is an adaptation of her novel Mutuwhenua: The Moon Sleeps (1978).

The Maori

The Maori, a Polynesian people, were the first inhabitants of New Zealand. Today they share the land with the descendants of Europeans who came to the islands centuries later. The Maori call their neighbors of European descent Pakeha. Marriage between Maori and people of European descent has become increasingly common in New Zealand.

A Mixed Marriage 1


A Mixed Marriage 2


"A Mixed Marriage - Part 1" as plain text

A Mixed Marriage

Patricia Grace

Part one

The days before my wedding were full and busy. My mother enjoyed all the organizing and the fuss and the new things, and it wasn't until we got the wedding dress that I saw her eyes fill. My father was busy too, but I'd never seen him so quiet.

Linda: What's the matter with my Dad?

Dad: It's all this wedding business.

Linda: You said we should get married. You want it too.

Dad: We're not going to be enough for you for ever, your Mum and me. Graeme has a lot of strength in him, and he loves you very much.

Linda: What then?

Dad: Your Nanny Ripeka won't come, you'll have to be prepared for that, Baby. She doesn't like it. Her granddaughter should marry one of us, a Maori. And she blames me of course, because there's truth in what she says, but you have to live a long time…

Linda: She's right because she's old?

Dad: You don't know what it's like yet. To be married. Away from home. And you and Graeme might be more different from each other than either of you can tell.

Linda narrator: It startled me for a moment to hear my own fear spoken in my father's voice. There were differences between Graeme and me because we came from different races, differences between Maori and Pakeha, that I had not been able to bring myself to talk about with him. We loved each other, and that was enough. But when my father talked of differences, I thought of the stone my cousin Toki and I had found, that was buried now at the bottom of a deep valley. I was nine years old. We'd gone across to my grandparents' place, and while the grown-ups talked, Toki and me played by the creek that comes down from the hills behind the house. I don't know who saw the stone first. Its shape made it different from the other stones and pieces of stick lying at the bottom of the creek. We lifted it out between us:

("Magic sound")

Toki: It's heavy.

Toki: The water must've worn it.

Linda: Perhaps it was people holding it, and feeling it, like this.

("Magic sound")

Toki: It's really old! It came in the floods from the hills, and it took years and years to get here. It's hundreds of years old.

Linda narrator: They were all frightened – Mum and Dad, Nanny and Grandpa, and the others. Scared of what we had brought in and shown them. Nanna Ripeka: It goes back. Back to the hills.

Toki: I saw one in the museum. They said it was worth a lot of money. Could we...

Dad: You can't steal from the dead, without harming the living. It's not ours to keep.

Mum: Someone will suffer...

Nanny Ripeka: It must go back. To the place in the hills.

Linda narrator: Grandpa, Toki and my father went, taking the stone, far back into the hills, and buried it back in the earth. Long afterwards, when I got to know Graeme, I wanted to tell him about the stone. Not the story, that would have been easy enough. I wanted him to know what it meant to me. I often think of that stone. And it always seems that I can feel it and see it better now than I could before. As if part of me is that stone and will not, cannot change, whatever I might want.

(Tennis court)

Linda narrator: Graeme - he was a friend of my cousin Toki. He was a teacher, just started, but his parents lived up our way, and he often came home. I met him playing tennis one Saturday – with Toki's sister Lena. We made up a four. Afterwards, Graeme asked me to go out with him.

Lena: You going to that film tonight, Graeme?

Graeme: Yes. I'm taking Linda.

Lena: Hey! Does her Dad know?

Graeme: Not yet.

Linda: Graeme only just asked me.

Lena: (singing to tease) "Two lovely black eyes - oh, what a surprise!"

Linda: I'm nineteen! Stop it, Lena!

Lena: You gotta look out for her Dad!

Linda narrator: It was a family joke then how my father ‘’watched over' me and spoilt me.

Dad: It's not you I don't trust, Baby, it's these blokes. Especially these Pakehas. You should hear them talk. They talk different from us - and they think our girls are easy.

Linda: Dad, you shouldn't……they're not all the same. You don't like it when they stick labels on us.

Dad: I won't let anyone hurt you, that's all. There's just one thing they want, and once they've got it, that's the last you see of them.

Linda narrator: My father is a man with nothing hidden. When I introduced Graeme to him, I knew he would have something to say, and it would not be said with gentleness and tact.

Dad: You want to take my girl to the pictures?

Graeme: Yes.

Dad: What for?

Graeme: Well, it's a good film, and… um...

Dad: All right. But you keep your hands off. Fool around with my girl, and I'll kick your head in.

Linda: Dad!

Dad: Dad nothing. He might as well know.

Linda narrator: I didn't enjoy myself that evening and could hardly speak to Graeme. I kept wondering what he thought of us - of me. The day after that he borrowed his father's car and was waiting to drive me home after work.

Linda: What's it like? Teaching?

Graeme: Pretty good. I'll have a Form 1 class when I go back.

Linda: I thought about teaching. But Dad didn't want me to go away.

Graeme: Your father looks after you, doesn't he?

Linda: I get angry with my father. Sometimes. Sometimes I just want to get away.

Graeme: Let's take a short cut…

Linda: Short cut! This goes right round by the coast! Tomorrow? Say yes.

Linda: Yes.

Linda narrator: My mother liked Graeme, but she had to stand up for Dad, too...

Mum: Your Dad,he's seen what goes on. It's not our way. You know how he got his broken nose?

Linda: I know.

Mum: My Dad - – your Grandad - he broke it.

Linda: Just because he'd caught you kissing. But Dad came back next day, and said he wanted to marry you, and they said there was nothing against….…

Mum: It wasn't easy, even in our day, to find someone right for you. And to be sure there was nothing against. My sister was brought up by an old auntie on our mother's side, she married a second cousin, and didn't even know they were related. That was bad. It wasn't her fault. No-one told her the old things.

Linda: But you and Dad, and Nanny Ripeka, you do tell us the old things. Every chance you get.

Mum: Yes. – Ah, but Graeme, he seems a nice boy, and they don't grow on trees...

Linda: Not around here, they don't!

Linda narrator: Dad came round to the idea of Graeme and me, slowly...

Dad: I know that boy's old man.

Linda: Which boy?

Dad: The one you took off with the other day. His father works with me. Not a bad sort of Pakeha.

Linda: Dad! What did you expect?

Dad: But I'm still not having you running around anywhere in the middle of the night, in anyone's car, with anyone!

Linda narrator: All the same, we saw each other most days. One of those times, Graeme stopped the car at our gate and we sat there, surrounded by words that tumbled out of us, about everything – the books we had read, the things we both liked. And perhaps it was the sound of Graeme and me laughing that put my father in a temper. I hadn't noticed his car turn in...

Dad: There's your house, there! Or have you forgotten?

Linda: Dad!

Graeme: I'll drive you up...

Linda narrator: Graeme and I followed the cloud of dust up to the house, and when we got there my father was shouting at my mother...

Dad: You must have seen them! Why didn't you go out and tell them to come in?

Mum: There was no harm.

Dad: Now, boy, next time you know what to do. I won't have her sitting round in cars or driving round anywhere with any of you blokes. Next time you come to the house.

Linda narrator: The anger wasn't important. What mattered was those words, "next time". "Next time you come to the house". So Graeme came to my house, I went to his. The last day, before the holiday was over, he came to the beach with a whole crowd of us- my uncle tom, his kids, my parents, Toki. It's a place where only we go - the only way to it is by land through my Uncle Rhawiti's farm. My mother and I packed a few things.

Mum: Bread - butter- – tea - milk - sugar – and that's all. If we don't get any kai moana, we'll have to starve...

Graeme: Kai moana? Sea food?

Linda: Sure. Mussels.

Dad: We can't miss out today. It's a full moon, the tide'll be good.

Linda narrator: We stopped just above the beach, where the creek came through. The same creek that came past my Grandmother's place, where we had found the stone.

("Magic sounds") To the left, and seeming close, were the hills.

Dad: You got to look after those. These new roads and buildings, they're all right but that's enough now, remember that. Those hills, there are tabu places in them. He knows, your uncle Rhawiti does. He's had offers for the land, but I know he'll never sell. He could have been a wealthy man by now. You younger ones have to know because……Well, his bloody kids have all gone, ay?

Mum: Stacking up money in Australia and all over the place.

Dad: So it's up to you. Leave the trees growing and those places will be all right. Leave them like they are, and the creek will be all right too.

("Magic sounds")

Mum: Enough talk, eh? What about the fish and the mussels? We promised Graeme kai moana...

Linda narrator: Then the holiday was over. Graeme went away, and I had to go and visit Nanny Ripeka. I went after work, to stay the night. I was named after her - Ripeka - and that was what she still called me, though I'd changed my name to Linda years ago.

Nan Ripeka: And about time you came, Ripeka. Let's go down to the creek, see if we've caught an eel.

Linda narrator: I waited for her to say more, but not then, and not at tea. After tea, she began to tell me about the old photographs, which I already knew, fading on every wall, to tell me who they were and what they were to me. Then she told me of the ones before that, who were not on the walls, but whom she had known. Then back before that to the ones she had never known or seen.

Nan Ripeka: There's your Grandpa Toki and me, your mother, Naio, your father, Tutanekai; from them, you, Ripeka.

Linda narrator: So the room became full of people. We sat quietly among them in the now silent kitchen.

("Magic sounds")

Nan Ripeka: Mummy said you got a Pakeha boyfriend.

Linda narrator: It was why she had sent for me. I wouldn't look at her.

Nan Ripeka: Why the Pakeha? What’s wrong with the Maori?

Linda: Nothing, Nanny. But Graeme, he's all right. He's not like you think.

Nan Ripeka: Ohh! You're as bad as your cousin. You think a Pakeha is better, and you think you can be happy, but you know nothing. All Graeme came home for the Easter holidays. I met him at the bus station. Summer was over, and the rain poured down.

Graeme: I don't know how it'll be, but I do love you. A lot, Linda.

Linda: There's a taxi - come on!

Graeme: You didn't answer.

Linda: This seat is soaking wet.

Graeme: You still haven't answered.

Linda: Because you didn't ask. Anything.

Graeme: Will you tell me you love me? It's the only thing I want to know.

Linda: I do. I do love you.

Linda narrator: Holiday -weekend, letters, life was one long wait between them. Seeing Graeme again. All this time my father was quiet, even friendly towards him. He began to treat him more and more like a member of the family, and in the end suggested the next, obvious step…

Dad: You love my girl, don't you? You really love her?

Graeme: Yes. I really do.

Dad: I want you two to get married then.

Linda narrator: Graeme and I went together to see Nanny Ripeka.

Nan Ripeka: No doubt you're a good-looking young man. But my granddaughter should marry a Maori.

Graeme: But I love her. No-one can love her more than I do.

Nan Ripeka: You know nothing. Love?

Love is the things you're born with and the things you know. You think you know this girl, but what do you know? What's wrong with a Pakeha girl for you?

Linda narrator: Full and busy days, the house full of visitors and presents and food, yet something was missing, and something was wrong. Then the day came, with blue skies, warm and still. It should have been perfect for a wedding. Quite suddenly, everyone was gone, leaving me in the beautiful gown that had made my mother cry, feeling sad and not knowing the reason - or trying but not wanting to know. My father in a new suit, looking miserable.

Linda: Nanny Ripeka. We've got to go for her. She has to come.

Dad: She won't come. We've all talked to her. Leave the stubborn old woman where she is.

Linda: we must drive there first. There's something I've got to ask.

Linda narrator: I ran up the old pathway in the beautiful dress, still clutching the bouquet.

Nanny: Ripeka! What are you...

Linda: You've got to come!

Dad: We should be at the Church...

Linda: You've got to come.

Nanny: I told you no. Why do you think I should change my mind?

Linda: The family - you tell me about the family, all the way back. My Mum and Dad, Rhawiti, Mereana, Tom, Hemi, you and Grandpa, Toki, before them Ripeka again and Rhawiti...

Linda narrator: I began to recite the old names to her, the ones from the wall and the ones before them, and the ones before that. And if I hesitated here and there, my father and uncle joined in with me, until I stopped.

Linda: So there's the trunk and branches of the tree. The branches spread everywhere. And every branch reaches out. Touches every other.

Nanny: Yes. It's true.

Linda: So who else could there be for me that any of you would have allowed? That there would be nothing against?

Nanny: Not here. No-one in these parts.

Linda: You have to come.

Nanny: You look very beautiful. Very beautiful.

Linda: There can be no-one else for me, but I can't do it. I can't go through with it. Unless you come.

Nanny: My clothes, they're not ready. I've got no hat.

Linda narrator: I threw my bouquet on the table, ran into the bedroom and took her good dress from the wardrobe. My father was looking for her shoes so that he could polish them.

Linda: Dad, send Uncle Rhawiti to get the hat you bought for Mum. The black one she never wore... Linda narrator. Then last, I snipped a couple of flowers from my bouquet to pin on her shoulder.

Linda: Come on now, or they'll think the car has broken down!

Linda narrator: The relief on the watching faces as we came into the church! I took my father's arm and the organ sounded. But it wasn't he and I that people saw as they turned to look. It was Uncle Rhawiti taking Nanny Ripeka to the front seat, and my mother rushing suddenly from her place, hugging the old lay, and starting to cry.

Graeme: Your grandmother came, after all.

"A Mixed Marriage - Part 2" as plain text

Part two

Linda narrator: Looking back I've asked myself if I truly did love Graeme when we married, or was I just using him to make my dream come true? My early days had been spent in an enclosure made by people and their love, and by the land and its love – because I've always know that the land can love its people. But it is not easy to be content with everything that is familiar and safe. The only answer I've found within myself is that I did love him, and that there could never have been anyone else for me, though the differences between us, between our races, Maori and Pakeha, nearly destroyed our marriage. We came back from our honeymoon to a letter offering Graeme a job in a new school.

Linda: It's so far away, we don't know anyone.

Graeme: We'll soon know people. You'll still have me, don't forget. And there's a house. It'll be ready for us to go into.

Linda: I'm not forgetting. And you're right. It's not so far.

Graeme: That's good then.

Linda: Yes, and the house.

Graeme: Ready for us to move in.

Linda narrator: A house, ready for us. Surrounded by flowers, with grass to cut and windows to clean. My dream soon persuaded me that all would be well. And my parents were pleased when we told them.

Dad: Going away is all right. As long as you know where home is. Then when the time comes, the right time, you'll know.

Linda: And what will I do then?

Dad: I don't know, but you'll know. You'll do what's right.

Linda narrator: Graeme must have been more puzzled than I was by this, but he didn't ask any questions. Later he said:

Graeme: I love you enough, and don't forget that.

Linda narrator: The city was a place of wonder and excitement. It was easy to be pleased and excited, as we found ourselves hand in hand among the crowds, travelling the length of the main shopping centre. We brought curtain material, filled in the form to get a telephone line, then went back to the house that was nothing like the dream after all. No flowers, only a dry little lawn. It didn't matter. It was our house. They were good days. Days for talking and planning, full of summer sun. But sometimes at night I had strange dreams, nightmares. (“Magic sounds”)

Linda narrator: A tall woman, one of my people but a woman I did not know, called from the corner of a room. Called me to come with her, but I knew I must not move. I knew not to go with her. When I wrote to Mum and Dad to tell them we'd got settled in, I mentioned I had dreams – but nothing more about them. Mum wrote back, about ordinary things.

Mum: Well. It's quite lonely here now with you two gone. I'm telling Dad to come and see you at Eastertime, and I think we will. Never mind ringing up when you get your phone. It costs too much. And Dad says, don't think too much about your dreams.

Linda narrator: On the day the phone was connected, I rang home. I talked excitedly about all the good things, and about their coming at Easter. I did not tell them the one thing that had begun to puzzle and frighten me. When I put the receiver down, I felt the tears rushing, but I brushed them off and made a cup of tea for Graeme and me.

Graeme: Thanks And chocolate cake, too?

Linda: Yes.

Graeme: What's the matter? Missing them all?

Linda: A bit. I'm just being silly.

Graeme: No, you're not. But Easter'll soon be here.

Linda narrator: There was Graeme, so quiet, so good to me always. But there were some things I could not speak to him about – not then. Things that would show the differences between us – differences that seemed nothing on the surface, but once you looked at them, might run so deep there could be no reaching across. I was afraid. So I didn't tell him about the things that were most important to me, that made me what I was. Things that had happened, like the time Toki and me found the stone in the creek. Easter came. It was so good to see the old car, packed to the windows, stopping outside our place, Mum and Dad getting out:

Mum: (Exchanging hugs) Oh, Linny!

Linda: Mum!

Mum: Linny! There's nothing wrong?

Linda: No, Mum. We're fine.

Mum: But you're so thin! Well, look at you, your eyes are dropping out!

Linda: Don't fuss, Mum.

Linda narrator: Later, my father took me aside to talk. I could only tell by living in a place, he said, whether it was all right or not.

Dad: At home we know where everything is; in a place like this there's no way of knowing. Only time and how you're affected will tell.

Linda: I have Graeme.

Dad: But perhaps I was wrong thinking he would be enough protection; perhaps I was wrong thinking you could be different in a different place.

Linda. No, Dad, no, you weren't wrong.

Dad: But you don't seem well.

Linda: I've been working hard about the house, forgetting to eat.

Dad: Well, you look after yourself a bit better, Baby, and stay on for a while. If it's no good for you here, then find another place. Come home for a time if you have to.

Linda: It'll be all right. I must just try to put all these old things out of my mind.

Dad: You won't fight against it too long?

Linda: I won't.

Linda narrator: I made plans. I'd get work in an office somewhere in town, then we could buy all sorts of things for the house and perhaps then – but it didn't happen. After Easter I was feeling too unwell to think of looking in the paper or going out to work. The day Mum and Dad left, I went straight to bed and was still sleeping when Graeme left for school the next day. I must have slept for hours…

Graeme: Linda! Where are you?

Linda: In here – the bedroom –

Graeme: You're not well.

Linda: You're home.

Graeme: It's nearly five. You're not…

Linda: Our baby. I feel awful…

Graeme: Our baby? You're pregnant! Oh, Linda, that's wonderful! You're pleased, are you? Or will be, when you feel better?

Linda narrator: Graeme came home early from school the next day, and we went to the doctor. He said the sickness would pass, took my weight, prescribed iron, and told me what I should eat. He said to come back in a month, and to make an appointment at the clinic. I decided not to make the appointments – the doctor had said himself that it would pass. And it was not the baby or the sick feeling that worried me. The dreams grew more and more real. I took any excuse to get out – shopping, posting a letter. (“Magic sounds”) Returning, going inside, I felt strongly and certainly the iced touch, the chill prickling across my shoulders and head and down my back. I stopped a growing scream with my hand. I went out again and walked the streets until it was time for Graeme to come home.

Graeme: What's wrong? Where have you been?

Linda: Just walking.

Graeme: You look so tired, my love. You're not well.

Linda: Walking. Here and there.

Graeme: Instead of resting. I'll take you to the doctor…

Linda: There's nothing. It's nothing to do with that.

Graeme: What do you mean?

Linda: A baby can't live here. I can't have the baby here.

Graeme: It's not a palace – but it's warm, it's dry. We're lucky.

Linda: I can't have the baby here. I'll have to go home.

Graeme: This is home, Linda. You made it home. Anyway, there are hospitals here, all that sort of thing…

Linda: (Fails to respond – intake of breath)

Graeme: Why don't you trust me? Why won't you tell me?

Linda narrator: The next morning as soon as he had left, I sat down to write to my mother. I wrote hurriedly, not looking about, my teeth biting into my hand to stop me screaming, then went out, locking the door. I dropped the letter into the letter-box and felt my trembling legs moving me down the hill to the bus stop. At last one afternoon the reply came:

Mum: ..You miss us and that makes it worse, but that's not all there is. Because your father wondered when he was there at Easter. These are old matters, and we would have to go back a long way to know exactly. But where you are is a bad place for you. It must be a burying ground for this to happen. It should be left to those who were there first and it is no place for you. So I'm coming to stay with you until you are well, and until we can move you from there because these are old matters. I don't want your Dad to come because these things affect him after a while, but not me so much. And he is not well already. You and Graeme will have to get another place to live very soon. You have to tell him all the things you put in your letter to us, and all the other things you have never spoken about. You've been doing your best to go towards him, but you have not allowed him to come towards you and it's not his fault…

Linda narrator: I hid the letter away, and told Graeme the night before…

Linda: Mum'll be here tomorrow.

Graeme: What?

Linda: I had a letter. Graeme: You didn't tell me.

Linda: I've got it somewhere…

Graeme: Good thing she's coming. She'll stop you wandering around all day. Maybe she can talk some sense into you – you don't listen to me… Linda narrator: But even when Mum came, her being there couldn't keep the dreams away. (“Magic sounds”) They were there whenever I slept, night or day. The voices called me through the darkness until I came out onto a cliff top. A white owl flew from over the sea, its eyes burning white. And I could leap out of the light into the brightly shining sea to meet the darkness again, the darkness forever and unending. But the bird flew close and settled on a white rock, and bird and rock became the woman, the woman whose place it was, her eyes white fire. Then her face was growing, swelling…

(“Magic sounds”)

Mum: Linda, Linda – it's all right! I'm here. You must hold out against them, no matter who wants you. No matter who calls you in your dreams, you mustn't go..

Linda: Don't let me sleep.

Mum: Oh, you're tired, you're very tired. I must get you away. You'll have to talk to Graeme.

Linda: But not yet.

Mum: Yes, now. Tonight.

Linda: Couldn't we just go?

Mum: It wouldn't be right.

Linda narrator: And not long after that he was home, and my mother was talking to him as if he was someone she knew, someone close to her. She was setting the table and putting food on the plates. I tried to eat and I thought that after I had eaten I would go to bed to sleep. It would be better and easier just to sleep.

Mum: Come on, Linda. You've got something to say to Graeme…

Linda: I can't. I have forgotten.

Mum: You haven't forgotten.

Linda: Nanny Ripeka was right.

Mum: Don't think of her now. Think of yourself and your baby, and your husband..

Linda: I don't know him, he doesn't know me. Love is the things you know.

Graeme: I do know you. You're my wife. And it's our child. We can make it right again, if only I can know.

Mum: The main thing is to get away. From here. Get her away.

Graeme: Remember how we used to drive about in the car together?

Linda: Long ago?

Graeme: Talking. We'll do that now..

Mum: Away from here there's nothing to be afraid of.

Graeme: In the car until everything's said. We can drive all night if we need to, and you can talk to me. Tell me all there is.

Linda narrator: For minutes or hours we didn't speak, yet as he reached out and moved me close to him, I knew that there, I could say the things I had to.

Graeme: I'll always love you.

Linda: And I love you. And there never could be anyone else for me – never will be.

Graeme: Are you leaving me?

Linda: No – not leaving, unless you think there's no other way.

Graeme: But it not the end – we're not through? You're not leaving me?

Linda: I need to move from here. The house, only the house.

Graeme: Only the house. Then it's all right and it's settled. We won't go back. Now you can tell me. What is it that's so difficult to say?

Linda: It's not the saying. It's the finding out. I'm afraid we don't know each other after all – afraid we never can.

Graeme: But we've never had big differences.

Linda: There are things. Things I've never said, because I've felt there couldn't..

Graeme: Be understanding?

Linda: Understanding and knowing.

Linda narrator: I thought about it. He was right. You can know without fully understanding. Like you know darkness and the wind, know that you love a person, know the strength of the unborn. Like knowing about the commitment between the sky and earth, between earth and people. So then I told him, a mixture of past things and what was happening to me then, and why. Talking on and on as we drove – until there was nothing more. We found a couple of rooms in a run-down area, nosy and full of smell that came in from the cafe downstairs.

Graeme: Not what I wanted. Not what I'd hoped for. All I could get in a hurry, but we'll find something better..

Linda: it's all right. It's a quiet place. It'll do for now.

Linda narrator: The bad dreams were gone. It had not been so hard, after all. When I trusted Graeme, and his love, that was enough. One day when I came back from shopping and went in and shut the door behind me, I was surprised at the sound of my own voice, singing. Everything seemed good – but the worst time was to come, the hardest test of Graeme's willingness to love me as I was, to accept that part of me that was the stone, buried deep in the living land, and the things I had to do and ask of him because I could not change, even I wanted to. Mum had gone home to look after Dad, who still wasn't well, but they both planned to come for two weeks when the baby was born, to be with their grandchild. It was a boy. I was so happy. I heard myself give him my father's name, but I didn't know then my father was dead. My father died at about the same time as the damp and crying baby was put into my arms.

Graeme: Our son.

Linda: Our son. I love you very much, Graeme.

Linda: You must ring everyone – tell them..

Linda narrator: Graeme came back at visiting time..

Linda: Did you get through? To Mum and Dad?

Graeme: They can't come. Just yet.

Linda narrator: And he looked away and was quiet.

Graeme: She said to give the baby your father's name.

Linda: I've done that already.

Linda narrator: But he didn't look at me, so I thought about what he'd just said.

Linda: He's ill.

Linda narrator: And he wouldn't look at me.

Linda: He's dead.

Graeme: I would have told you in the morning.

Linda: We'll have to be there by morning. Where are my clothes?

Graeme: Leave the hospital? What about the baby?

Linda: With the baby, of course. We have to go. It's only right.

Linda narrator: The Pakeha do not allow long for grief. After a few days back at my old home, Graeme had to go.

Graeme: Won't you come back with me?

Linda: I can't, not yet. You go and I'll come in another month.

Mum: Go with him now. Your Auntie Mereana will stay with me for a while. Lena too.

Linda: There's something else..

Graeme: I need you to come with me now. If you don't come now, I know you never will.

Linda: I need a little more time. Another month. I have to do right – now that it's the right time. But you will find it very hard. Because of what's different between us.

Graeme: But you will come?

Linda: I will come. Linda: We had all mourned my father in the days before he was buried, while he lay in the house, dressed in fine cloaks and surrounded by family possessions, and at his head the photographs of those who had gone before. (“Magic sounds”) The boy who had his name, slept, woke to be fed then slept again. But the boy and he had never known each other. (“Magic sounds”) Oh, Dad, you breathed out as he breathed in, so that now your breathing is his breathing. He stands where you have stood, and so he must walk where you have walked, and must know the things you would have wanted him to know. I wouldn't take him from you, or from her.

Mum: If this is what you want, Linda..?

Linda: It's what I want, and so it's what must be. We'll come often, Graeme and me.

Mum: Then I'm happy, and so is your father, knowing his place won't be left empty. But this will be hard for Graeme. Will he be strong enough?

Linda narrator: I weaned the boy gently, knowing my mother would care for him from now on, and lead him in his first steps over the ground where those who had gone before had given him the right to walk, knowing he would be given the gifts she had to give, and hold them for the ones to come.

Mum: Will Graeme be strong enough for this?

Linda narrator: I went to him confidently. He had not once failed to love. Pakeha – white – but his soul was dark, glowing black pure as the night sky. And I loved him. There could be no other for me.

Relatert innhold

What do you know about Maori identity and culture? Have you heard or seen the haka?

CC BY-SASkrevet av Åse Elin Langeland.
Sist faglig oppdatert 01.03.2018


Indigenous Cultures and Traditions