Sean Fintan O’Toole & An Ode For Baby Neve

Kia Ora, Begorah — It’s been a great few weeks for the Irish.

And only last week I was belatedly celebrating the birthday of baby Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford with a group of fellow intellectuals in one of Wellington’s Irish pubs.

While sipping on another Guinness, pressed on me by an Irish lass, I offered to recite the ode to Neve and her parents penned

soon after her birth (June 21, 2018) by Kapiti’s own poet laureate, Michael O’Leary.

I did so to sustained applause and many a quiet tear.

And here’s the poem itself, God Bless Us All…

‘A Sonnet to Neve Te Aroha

(for Jacinda & Clarke)

‘Welcome to our world little child with the name of Neve

A name evoking the fearless queen of Ireland, Meave

And Te Aroha, the small town where your mother grew

Into a fighter for love and justice for Aotearoa anew 

The Irish and the Māori strands of history combine

Following down a continuous and struggling line

For justice and return of stolen language and land

A fight against the odds, both ordinary and grand

Much of my own thinking and writing over many years

Has sought to address these twin cultural arrears

My novel: The Irish Annals of New Zealand and a song

‘Potatoes, fish and children’ also about writing wrong

So, little child lying peacefully in your mother’s cradling arms

You carry a great tradition in your two names of cultural charms

Michael O’Leary

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