When you first told me
that you gave me the name of our tupuna
so that I would be strong enough
to hold our family inside my ribcage,
I believed you.
Here you are.
Here is how I saw you,
trapped in your own amber.
Now it’s time
for you to believe me.
Tōku Pāpā is a book that serves as a map of survival for Māori growing up outside of their papakāika. These poems look at how we take the knowledge we are given by our ancestors and hide it beneath our tongues for safekeeping. They show us how we live with our tūpuna, without ever fully understanding them. This book encompasses a journey spanning generations, teaching us how to keep the home fires burning within ourselves when we have forgotten where our homes are. But have our homes forgotten us?