Topic: Poterwhiri Pa by Patricia Brooks

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Poterwhiri Pa by Patricia Brooks was one of six finalists in the Battle of Gate Pā Poetry Competition (2014). The poem was read aloud at the Prize Giving and Awards Evening held at Elizabeth Café & Larder at 5.30pm on Thursday 6 March 2014.

After Pukehinahina the soldiers came to the deserted pa at Poterwhiri. Only the cracked bell of the whare karakia remained.


Poterwhiri Pa

The cracked bell lies midst mud and bloody blankets.
Broken, like the promises, our lives and our hopes.
Once it called the people to prayer and power
Now it sinks sadly in the dust of history.
Those who brought messages of peace and prosperity
Won our hearts and minds with skills and vision.
Tall trees grew in the two worlds
As we trusted those who taught.
The bell rang like the joyful bird song
Peace prevailed until  land  was lost.
Tears and  prayers came to nothing.
Desperate to survive we fought for our land.
The bell called us to prayer and council
With Christian hope new rules were made.
Rules to soften the reality of war.
But death is death.
Like the mission bell
We are broken
But we bleed.

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Poterwhiri Pa by Patricia Brooks