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228
POHUTUKAWA
The biggest is at Te araroa. On the Coast
       what we call pohutukawa may be called rata.
Sometimes it's hard to tell one from the other.
The most famous, at Reinga, had a hefty branch
hanging out over the sea.
       Spirits travelling to the underworld of Po
clung to that branch, then let go, and plunged.
Season after season, year after year, one
generation then another, that branch served.
Then pakeha, musket wars, sicknesses.
Spirits journeyed as never before —
the branch bent down. lt gave way,
it couldn't support much weight.
And the tree itself?
                           Some of you will
find that out, won't you?
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