Standing in line at the McDonald’s on Bank Street in Whangarei, Hemi does a quick survey of the last few hundred years and blames everything on red meat – his parents’ diabetes, his brother’s alcoholism, his nephew’s inability to read. As he sees things, for the longest time his people had satisfied themselves with birds, fish and the flesh of their enemies. When the Europeans first arrived, they were welcomed not only for their nails and muskets but for their rumps, thighs, calves and biceps. But the holds of their wooden ships were also filled with sheep, cows, and pigs. Hemi imagines his Maori ancestors standing barefoot on the beach, their mouths watering and their tewhatewha and taiaha at the ready, only to have their appetites overwhelmed by a relentless flood of protein. It swept ashore on two legs and four, a tidal wave of weaponry and grazing that washed away the pā, turned the landscape into pasture, and never receded. Today on these islands there are twice as many cows as people, four times as many sheep as cows, and the pigs are running the place. Hemi slaps a $10 note on the counter — Kate Sheppard’s face stares up at him, but he doesn’t really mind. That said, when he pays with a $20, he always make sure to turn the Queen face down. He orders a Grand Angus for himself and Happy Meals for his kids from the pale-faced girl in uniform. And he smiles, warm and genuine.
Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud) by Bernard Heise
Filed under Bernard Heise
5 responses to “Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud) by Bernard Heise”
It’s amazing what we can overlook when it serves our interests. I’m glad he was nice to the counter girl with the crappy job though. :)
Bernie, i can imagine you in just this situation thinking these thoughts and also serving up a warm and genuine smile.
The character is appealing in the same way you are.
Aw, shucks …
Not sure what to say other than this makes me really think. A very good thing. Peace…
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