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