Tangi – a poem by J. C. Sturm

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Thursday 25 November 2010
Ron Brownson

With the terrible news of the tragedy at the West Coast, I wondered what words could be of comfort.

I telephoned John Baxter to ask if I could place here the poem Tangi written by his mother Jacquie Sturm. John kindly agreed and I am most grateful to him. Jacquie’s literary executor, Professor Paul Millar, generously allowed me to print this powerful poem in its entirety.


Think of the many dead, you
Who would lie with your dead
In the whare nui
Beneath the kowhaiwhai
Before the tukutuku
Below the tupuna
Who watch over
All who lie here,
The living and the dead.

Think of him who lies
Beside you, separate now.
Mihi to him
He is lonely,
Tangi for him
He does not want to go.
Tangi for those
Who tangi for him.
Tangi with those
Who tangi for you.
Mihi and tangi
Will bind you,
Bind you together.

Remember your dead.
The very young
Taken so soon,
The strong axed down
In their pride,
The very old
Who simply slipped away.
Mihi to them
Tangi for them
Be bound with them.

Imagine those before
The ones before
The ones you knew.
Think and imagine:
How it was for them,
So it will be
The same for you.
Tangi for them
Tangi for you
Lie there, lie there
Bound with the living
And your dead.