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On Peaceful Tomorrows
Tënä rawa atu tätou katoa. Kia ora rawa atu koe, Margaret, mö tö manaaki me tö arahi mai i a mätou i tënei rangi, mö ënei kaupapa whakahirahira. He mihi aroha ki a koutou katoa ngä kaikörero, me ngä kaimahi o PMA, nä koutou te karanga kia tü anö tätou ki runga i te atamira o te rangimarie.  (I greet us all, especially you Margaret, for your care and guidance towards us today and around such significant and important events and subjects. A greeting of love to all of you, the previous speakers, and to the workers of Peace Movement Aotearoa - from you the call came for us to stand again on the platform of peace.)
I am a writer, and yet it's so hard to know what to say. So my offering today is a quick story, and a song. In my writing, I'm often confronted with the dilemma of autobiography - if something terrible has happened to me at the hands of someone else, and I want to write about that, how do I do it? Even if I fictionalise all the details, make her hair blonde, make his eyes brown, people will know, won't they? They will read themselves between the lines - even, sometimes, when it's not them I am writing about at all.
And sometimes, I admit, I really want that. I want them to feel some of the pain and humiliation I have suffered at their hands. I write a poem, I might even mention the person's name if I'm feeling particularly hurt, and then I imagine publication in the Listener, or even the Woman's Weekly, something with a wide, wide circulation.
I say to myself 'It's important for these stories to be told. Where would we be without Alice Walker, without Adrienne Rich, without Keri Hulme, Sylvia Plath, Sharon Olds, Sia Figel - all the women writers I admire who speak the things that we're told to keep quiet, about abuse and violence perpertrated in silence.' This is all true - where would we be without such women?
But there's a larger lesson for me, I think, in all this. It's about how I react when harm is done to me. It's about the intention behind those actions and reactions of mine and it's about trying in my life to do no further harm than has already been done. Please forgive me - I'm not trying to reduce these terribly large and global issues down to just an anecdote - I guess it's just that my daily life is my main reference point, because I'm fortunate enough not to have direct experience of the kinds of war that we did experience in this country, and that millions of people are enduring every day.
This song is a farewell to the dead ... kia ora mai tätou ...
Ngä Wehenga ©
Bones, in this place the soles of my feet are not null;
how must I walk? My throat has not woven the call.
My throat has not spoken the harakeke. The north,
you say, is thick with it - open-mouthed for the host
in this garden violence pinched us back.
to a purple gallery of pühä and päua
and its friends at your table
Nä reira koutou te hunga mate ki te hunga mate, ko tätou te hunga ora ki te hunga ora, kia ora rawa atu tätou katoa.
11 September 2002 in Aotearoa / New Zealand