Authors: Tihema Baker
First published in 2013 by Huia Publishers
39 Pipitea Street, PO Box 17â335
Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand
ISBN 978-1-77550-135-0 (print)
ISBN 978-1-77550-151-0 (EPUB)
ISBN 978-1-77550-152-7 (Kindle)
Copyright Â© the authors 2013
Cover artwork: Wiremu Barriball
This book is copyright. Apart from fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced
by any process without the prior permission of the publisher.
A catalogue record for this serial is available from the National Library of New Zealand
Ebook production 2013 by
Published with the assistance of
âHave you hit rock bottom?'
âWhat's that supposed to mean?'
âDo you feel like your situation could get any worse?'
âLady, I don't know. I came here to make my situation better. I don't know. You're supposed to know, aren't you?'
Stupid bitch. All these bloody questions. I
at rock bottom, but what the hell was this lady gonna do? I was too proud to talk to this PÄkehÄ counsellor lady about my shit. What the fuck did she know? I was only there because of my bail conditions. She can't help me. I was a thirty-five-year-old MÄori male with no job, no money, a broken relationship, a tendency to smoke and drink, debt coming out of my ears, an anger problem, childhood issues with my parents â the list went on. What the hell was this lady gonna tell me? How could she help me? She probably went to a great school, had a nice family, heaps of money. By the looks of her office, she had it all. No doubt the flash looking couches and desk and computer came with the office, but I could tell she was well off by what she was wearing and all that flash shit on her desk.
, I am trying to understand you so that I can help you.'
Fuck this. I was getting pissed off at this lady trying to understand me when I knew that we come from two completely different worlds. How the fuck was she supposed to understand me? She couldn't even say my name properly. Man I didn't want to talk to this bitch, but I had to, otherwise she would write a dumb report to my probation officer.
. Suck it up bei.
âWhat do ya wanna know?'
I don't really know how my life got to be this shit. At high school, I was the naughty MÄori boy that talked too much. I felt dumb as school. Teachers made sure to tell me too. I hated going home after school everyday. The people I knew as Mum and Dad were not my real parents. Dunno who my real parents are, but fuck knows how these two got the job. Dad was always either drunk or angry or both, and Mum was so busy trying not to fuck my Dad off that she didn't even notice I was there. I didn't have any brothers or sisters, thank God. I used to wish that I had someone else in this family, but now that I think about it, thank fucking God those two didn't produce a human being. They ain't my real parents. Dad used to tell me that they found me on the street. Mum told me that my real parents âdidn't give a fuck'. Pffft, whatever. Fuck these parents and fuck those parents too. Don't need anyone.
âMr Hetana, we may have an employment opportunity for you.'
Here we go. I aint working in no supermarket that's for sure. Was just about to tell this bitch where to go if she even suggested it.
âBut it is only for a week, starting tomorrow. There is a festival happening, and the organisers are looking to employ security for day and night shifts.'
OK, well I can handle that. One week â¦ sweet. Cuply shifts and off to the pub I go.
âWhere? What's this festival?'
âIt's in Rooaatokey, not far from here. I think it's called the Toohoey festival? It happens every two years.'
This bitch was cracking me up. But I was used to it. I had been called âManner' my whole fuckin life.
âRÅ«Ätoki? The TÅ«hoe festival? Yep
whatevz, I'm in.'
Had heard about the TÅ«hoe festival never been to one though. Not really into MÄori shit. Don't wanna look dumb. Feel like I am too old to be learning and asking questions now. Apparently my real father and mother are from TÅ«hoe too. My Dad told me one day when he was drunk that âthose raiding pigs should shoot your fuckin' parents.' That was when the RÅ«Ätoki raids were on the news. Ever since, I'd wondered whether I was from there. But yeah, whatevz.
âAnei boy, here's your jacket.'
Our supervisor for the week was like this old as koro. Looked like he had been doing this job forever and people forgot to replace him. He was nice though, but yeah, I was just here to make that money. RÅ«Ätoki was rural as, but the festival was pumping. Netball, rugby, kids' haka, adults' haka â still not my thing, but at least the next few days won't be boring as. Now that I was right in the middle of TÅ«hoe land, I couldn't help but wonder whether I was really from here. These people kinda looked like me. Bet their lives were better though. I wonder if anyone knew my parents? All I know is that my mother's last name was Hetana.
The people here seemed alright. There were a few of us on security. I was working the day shifts by the big stage set up for the kapahaka performances. Once the first group was on, I realised that my job was going to be a piece of piss.
When it was time for smoko, I went back into the security tent. The old koro supervisor said to me,
âNÅ hea koe, boy?'
âI don't speak MÄori,' I said, annoyed. Koro didn't take the hint.
âWhere you from, boy?'
âFuck knows.' I didn't mean to swear, but it was true. I had no fuckin' idea. Born and bred in Rotorua
by two fuckwits who wouldn't tell me where I was from. Didn't wanna share that with this old has-been over r
wena and jam on our lunch break.
âApparently my Mum is from here,
but I dunno.'
âWhat's her last name, boy? You never know â we could be related,' Koro said with a cheeky grin. Old man was trying to make me feel welcome. He could probably tell I was a stranger round these ways.
Silence. Old man was speechless for a second,
then with a mouth stuffed full of r
wena bread he asked me, âDo you know your mother's first name? How old are you, boy?'
Why all the fucking questions old man. Didn't wanna be rude, but I really wanted to tell him to mind his own
fuckin business. I also wanted to say that my mother must have been a loser to have never bothered to try and find me. But I thought I better be respectful to this old shit, finish my lunch and get back to the stage.
âDunno. But I'm thirty-five, and my name is Manawanui.'
Three days into the festival, and I still couldn't stop thinking about that old man's fucking reaction. Almost choked on his bread from shock. Aye? I didn't know what the fuck was going on. And the old cunt was not even here today. Story of my life.
As I spent the day standing in my highlighter yellow jacket looking like I gave a fuck, I couldn't help but feel jealous watching families walk around together, teams on the field and groups on the stage. There was a sense of unity in the air. And pride. Two things that
were foreign to me. Although all the different clubs were battling each other out on the field and stage, you couldn't help but see the passion that everyone had for the festival. The love they had for each other. Everyone was going hard out for the same reason. I snuck off a cuply times just to watch the rugby. All the punching, head highs and low blows I thought to myself
now this is what I call rugby! Even the netball was pretty mean. Man I was jealous as fuck. My life woulda been so different if I came from a place like this. These people had it pretty good, I reckon. If you know your roots, you don't spend your life searching for them, like the rest of us. Almost everyone here
could speak MÄori. Everyone here definitely knew where they were from, and all the families looked tight as. I was fuckin jealous alright. My childhood couldn't have been any more opposite. Oh well, fuck it. Don't need anyone. Gimme my money and I
'll see you next lifetime.
Got the biggest fright. I was daydreaming when I was rudely interrupted. A random lady in her fifties standing in front of me, with a nervous look on her face. Standing behind her was Koro Supervisor
who didn't bother to show up to work. The old man came closer and put his hand on my shoulder.
Awkward. What's this fulla up to?
âMy name is Bob Hetana and this is my daughter Wendy Hetana
. She had a son thirty-five years ago, when she was twenty. At that time, she brought shame to my name and my whÄnau, so I made her adopt her son out. Eventually realising that I had given away my first-born mokopuna
, I have spent my life looking for him. I want him to know that he is from a loving whÄnau here in R
toki. He comes from a line of chiefs. A descendant of rangatira! I want him to know that his marae here is his backbone, and his tribe is his spine. Boy, we told the whÄngai parents to name you Manawanui, because if you spent your life without your whÄnau, marae and tribe then you would have to be brave. Boy, I am so sorry. So, so sorry.'
I can't believe they were looking for me
. Me? ME?
I had whakapapa. I was found. I was home.