New Brighton by Dietrich Soakai


Dietrich Soakai reads his own poem New Brighton, written in response to the exhibition Te Wheke: Pathways across Oceania at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū.

Angela Tiatia Lick Purchased 2018
Single-channel HD video, colour, sound, duration 6 mins 33 secs

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The ocean and sand is as I left it,

As usual, a strong gust of wind

Rushes off anxious waves that are bursting to spill the news.


I am all puffer jacket and scarf ready.

My footprints are muddy yellow, slipping into the creeping tide

While concrete set skies are washed with the closing hibiscus bloom,

It offers a tauolunga

to the fading day.

You know? The Tongan spectacle of the slow, sometimes, solo dance it gives.

As if to say thank you for what was.

Ranginui looks dapper in his winter drip,

Long iced white rolling and feather downed

Something you don’t get to witness back home.


At first light, he’s beer gut bulging out of his royal morning robe

His evening wears are always short sleeved shirts and mojitos

But down here,

you have to be more creative,

a different kind of predictability.

They taught us how to grieve

It brings out the best in all of us.


The pier stretches into the moana,

Trying to mirror the beach’s embrace

everything man made comes to a stop

Brought with a cost.

Runs out of breath.


Still. Stand. Still.

I feel the chill slap across my face and break into my rib cage,

It's just what happens around these ways.


At first glance

In the distance, statue ships

Enter the cove

Edge across the landscape


And it feels foreign to me.


Still. Stand. Still.


A brown omen

disguised in a bright yellow Russell Athletics hoodie,

Passes by.

greets me with her eyes

I smell Tangaloa in her hair

Her words move like a shadows apparition

I nod back with my gaze

exhale with an amen.


These shores I had paced and roamed,

Wondered and wandered alone,

But now I've found it, I receive your welcome, I can call it