The uprising

Featured in

  • Published 20140129
  • ISBN: 9781922182241
  • Extent: 300 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook
Selected for Best New Zealand Poems 2014


Here we are a skinny country
in the largest ocean on earth
spell-bound, windswept, lashed.
The land is like a canoe heading south
to an icy continent or heading north to equatorial islands.
No one seems to know.
On Tuvalu the ocean is rising, in San Francisco
the ocean is rising, in Sydney the ocean is
rising, in Nagoya the ocean is rising
while here, in Paekakariki, outside my window
the Tasman Sea, moon-bound, rises and falls.
It breaks up on the sea wall and falls.
The land is like a sea-bird but where
are its wings? The land is like a fish.
The fish of Māui, hauled up from the sea floor, writhing.
The ocean is a road, a table and a bed.
It takes our bodies up to air and floats them.
The ocean is an open question.
The ocean is an open sewer. So far
it takes what it gets: toxins, dead zones,
blooms, blasts, oil, waste, radiation…
Our country is asleep – dreaming of a gull
that circles the Pacific, and circles every island.
Our country has forgotten where it lies.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

About the author

Dinah Hawken

Dinah Hawken lives in Paekakariki on the Kāpiti coast, north of Wellington.Of her six collections of poetry, published by Victoria University Press, four have...

More from this edition

Encounter above the Hurunui

PoetryA cloud river above the Hurunuiand on the plane there are two Māori bros –one sitting with me until he could shiftto the seat...

Looking east

IntroductionFOR A NUMBER of years I travelled on a New Zealand passport. It wasn't so much that I identified with the land of my...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.