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BALLAD OF BAKER McLEAN
Edward Baker McLean (they say) was sent
to study law. He didn’t care for law,
he dropped out.
                         Edward Baker McLean was
a bastard, he was a half-caste.
They said, his father was big in Government
in Auckland. You catch
                                      the nod the wink the nudge
the hint? You caught the name? Actually
it’s not likely Donald McLean was his dad.
Edward Baker McLean was Peka Makarini.
He went to the Chathams. He came back with Te Kooti.
He was ‘the greatest of ruffians and Te Kooti’s
          best fighting man’.
Gilbert Mair shot him, not far from Rotorua.
This is the end of the first part of
the Ballad of Baker McLean.

Two of Mair’s patrol men tied the body to a tree.
Nature didn’t do the rest.
One wild and bitter night (that’s how Mair tells it)
at the Rokokakahi base camp two years later
it was cry Alarm! Turn out the guard!
to hunt and capture
                               one elderly famished half
frozen man, sent all the way from Mohaka
to desecrate the body of Peka Makarini.
Out of the night a tohunga, there’s
a frisson for you to add to cold and wicked winds.
One hundred and fifty winter miles,
to Napier, Napier to Taupo, Taupo
to Rotokakahi.
                        They warmed him, fed him,
helped him get his strength up,
eventually led him, "There now, that’s Peka,"
and left him to pick the bones over.
This is the end of the second part of
the Ballad of Baker McLean.

Of the bones were made
                                     fish hooks, birds’
leg rings, charms and
                        wrapped in cloaks, a parcel,
a narrow strip of calico steeped in red ochre
nearly a hundred feet long.
                                          Unwrap the parcel:
a bone from the right arm of Peka Makarini
as used to be. Now it was a flute
plugged with a tightly rolled
old paper collar, with a message:
‘A token of affection from Ngati Pahauwera . . .’
This is the end of the third part of
the Ballad of Baker McLean.
The last part of the ballad is
what the flute said:

                                 and that is the end of
the Ballad of Baker McLean.
                                                                      28. 10. 88
Editor's note
Ballad of Baker McLean: first published in Auto/Biographies; the name is transliterated into Maori as Peka Makarini, or Peka Te Makarini; Donald McLean (1820-77), influential politician in 19th century New Zealand, he held various appointments like native secretary, chief land purchase commissioner, general government agent, he entered parliament in 1866; Gilbert Mair (1843-1923): soldier who led the campaign against Te Kooti; Mair shot Te Makarini in 1870; for Mair’s recollections about the flute etc. see Andersen and Petersen pp.196-8 (see previous note); He went to the Chathams.He came back with Te Kooti: Te Kooti was banished to the Chatham Islands in 1865 but escaped in 1868 by seizing a ship and returning to New Zealand where he resumed his rebellion; Rokokakahi: near Rotorua; Mohaka: in Hawkes Bay, site of a massacre by Te Kooti in 1869
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