Lanu Moana by Ana Mulipola


Ana Mulipola reads her own poem, Lanu Moana, written in response to the exhibition Te Wheke: Pathways Across Oceania at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

John Pule Not of This Time (Dreamland)
Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū; purchased 2019

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Navy is the blood on her winter uniform

Can you see it, can you see it? she pleaded

Then she was gone


Lanu moana - the colour of the ocean

Alo lou va’a ae fa’aeteete i le asa o le la*


Crimson is the holy bible in his mind

I believe it, I believe it, he pleaded

And set it aside


Lanu moana - the colour of the ocean

Alo lou va’a ae fa’aeteete i le asa o le la*



*Paddle your canoe but beware of the scorching sun


Not of this time did we dream of strands of typos

dangling from ink-stained walls

Walls that were contemporary when my son’s finger prints

embossed foggy windows

and my daughter pulled her skirt into pleats at the front


Lanu moana - the colour of the ocean

Lanu meamata - the colour of unripe bananas

Lanu samasama - the colour of… summer?


Summer crackles from the transistor radio he carries in his back pocket

Face to face, he struck me speechless

Unruly curls, pungent leather, whiskey nerves


Fakaalofa lahi atu


It wasn’t a transistor radio after all but a calling card

with Niuean motifs that he chucked across the bar

It landed with a puff of air that splashed beer froth in their eyes


Mum, I’m hungry

Wait, there’s more


I stepped further back to capture him all in one frame

But there was too much of every part of me closing in on me

Trying to steady me in heeled boots

Without touching the walls

Without touching my face

Te Wheke


Don’t touch the siapo axe

Don’t touch the Victorian taupou

Don’t touch the hiapo with shark teeth edges

Don’t touch the tivaevae

Don’t touch the malu under water

Don’t touch the fish gliding without trying

Don’t touch the strings of sand

Don’t touch the tin cans

Don’t touch the baby stars

Don’t touch the seven sisters

Not one single sister



There’s not enough time to eat this feast

My feet are sore and I’m sweating

Someone’s texting

Someone’s texting

My handbag has gobbled my phone

My hair needs a wash

My daughter wants to touch the fish

And I’ve missed the malu swim away




Lanu meamata - the colour of Icarus falling

Lele maualuga ae fa’aeteete i le asa o le la**


From great heights the ocean is a hard landing place

If you’re burning, you meet it with a sizzle

But everything that follows is like air

The deeper, the more fluid the dance

Te Wheke


** Fly high but beware of the scorching sun


Underwater, nature magnifies itself

It holds my future out and squints


There’s a woman, she says.

But there are many, I reply.


Yes, there are many in one, she says and shuffles. Pull five cards.

Tasi, lua, tolu, fa, lima.


Give me another two.

Ono, fitu.


Seven priestesses appear:

     [ ] Pu’eomanu

     [ ] Malaea

     [ ] Liua

     [ ] Malia

     [ ] Pepe

     [ ] Vainu’u

     [ ] Sarai



Our Fika sister is in her Melbourne home

We are in Ōtautahi, Te Puna o Waiwhetū

We are loud - the sound of proud

Te Wheke



Poem references

1 - 2        Response to John Pule Not of This Time (Dreamland) 2008
3 - 4       Response to Te Wheke, 2020
5             Response to Bill Hammond Icarus Falling (after Bruegel) 1995
6             Response to Lonnie Hutchinson Pigeon Tarot 2003
7             Response to Te Wheke, 2020