India Logan-Riley: A tribute to te Moana Nui a Kiwa

This poem is primarily inspired by my friend’s love of ngā wai. As children of the Pacific we know that ‘love’ can never encompass the breadth of connection to our taiao. While witnessing the World Heritage Committee attempting to grapple with the crises affecting our reefs alongside celebrating with pure joy the addition of Taputapuātea as a World Heritage Site for the whole Pacific, this poem rang true over and over. It is a reminder that for us, nature and culture will never be split into arbitrary categories. Enjoy.  

Kapo Wairua. Photo credit: Catherine Messenger-Weepu

Kapo Wairua. Photo credit: Catherine Messenger-Weepu





He toto ō ngā wāhine

Harks of shared currents between our bodies

Tinana - Moana

Moana Nui a Kiwa

The greatest sculpture of adoration known to our planet

As Rangi split from Papa his tears wrote of the pain of separation

Covering his beloved in webs that spelt out his affection

Her body, his life

Their torn bond


Salt tracks down my cheeks

Salt runs through our veins

Through our fingers as we dive beneath the surface

A surface that travels currents across ancient highways to whānaunga

To Hawaiki

To pathways that the call of the mother whale anchors into the deep

Into a deep knowing

An irresistible recognising of the pull

That awakens the yearning of my body as the tang of that coast air swims up my nose and swells in my lungs

Telling me my tūrangawaewae is somewhere in the crashing call of Tangaroa

A roaring that pours down the crevices of my heart

Knitting it back together with white foam threads

Healing, mending


Expansive enough to move me, a mere mortal

Between tapu and noa


Love is not red

It is all the myriad colours

Of navy, teal

Aqua, crystal

Pāua, steel



A massive thank you to French Polynesia and Matua Moana for your mahi in this journey to inscription.

Thank you to Moerangi, Lara, Catherine, Tipene, Hana, Levi, Wiremu, Alaynna and the rest of the Tuia whānau for the journey over the last few years. 

Posted on July 14, 2017 .