MEETING AT MATATA
After the amnesty it happened:
Gilbert Mair had business at Matata.
Te Kooti rode in – a couple of wives,
thirty men in his bodyguard – to visit
at the village with the local faithful,
to do some healing if needed. All those years,
only once they’d met up face to face.
Captain Mair was praised for his shooting.
All those years! but never managed
to hit Te Kooti. People still think it strange.
Te Kooti heard Mair was at the Horseshoe Inn.
He marched his men across with borrowed weapons,
one or two rifles, some shotguns.
He paraded them. Mair was invited out
to inspect the guard of honour.
Such as had arms presented.
Te Kooti came to Mair. He hung a fine cloak
on him: " . . . my token of regard for you.
Wear this in memory of me. If it’s not
big enough, let me clothe you with my love."
He ordered his force Teihana! Pai te rewhi!,
quickmarched them back to their quarters.
Make love not war. Make peace, make friends.
These dim fond bromides, how they cling together
like album leaves, commonplace, a bit foxed,
yet what a sweet tune you can finger from them
on some old honey-brown Blüthner upright
in a shadowy bar parlour.
Later that day a message from the kainga:
28. 10. 88
Would the Captain be good enough to send over
a bottle of rum? Perhaps two?