The River Walkers

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					                      The River Walkers
                   Jeffrey Addison 2009




The River Walkers

  By Jeffrey Addison




                                  -1-
                                                                      The River Walkers
                                                                   Jeffrey Addison 2009


Arahura River, West Coast.
At dawn, thirty-six year old Ahu Tauwaka dreams of his river. From within it,
Hine-ro-pounamu, fish-daughter of Poutini, calls to him. His dream-self stands
muscular and naked on a large, pale–grey boulder among the many that form the
banks of the Arahura. He listens to the flow of the water, rock rumbling and
tumble rolling. The dark greens of dense bush are a cloaking blur around him.
Above hangs a marbled white, mist shrouded sky. Her voice cuts through the
water‟s constant gurgle.
„E hoa! Haere mai!‟
Ahu scans up and down river. There is nobody else around but him.
“Who‟s there?” His tiny voice is swallowed by the bubble and babble, the splatter
and froth of the river.

He steps down the bouldered bank into knee-deep, freezing cold water.
The veins in his dream body contract, absorbing the shock of the glacier-fed
river. Arahura rushes around him, through him. His eyes search without
discovering the source of the voice. “Who are you?”
„Someone in great need - we are being attacked.‟ Her voice from everywhere and
nowhere. On the edge of his vision - a splash and the flash of a large tail, rippling
side to side under the water.

Ahu walks out towards the middle of the river, until the water is up to his hips.
“Show yourself! Stop playing games with me!” He struggles to keep his balance
as the river‟s flow quickens around him.

Tail beating the water to foam underneath her, the fish-daughter of Poutini rears
up before him, scales glowing a translucent green, till she is eye to eye with him.
„Hoki mai, Ahu.‟
In his surprise Ahu steps back and loses his footing on the slime-covered rocks,
falling backwards into the river, under the water.




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                                                                                  -2-
                                                                      The River Walkers
                                                                   Jeffrey Addison 2009




12c Horrock Place, Christchurch

He flails around, trapped by the bed-sheets of his queen-size bed. Tina Tauwaka
tries to comfort him and protect herself from his thrashing arms and legs at the
same time.
“Wake up hon! It‟s just a bad dream! Everything‟s alright Ahu…”
Ahu‟s eyes open. He registers his reality. His body relaxes. Tina holds him
tenderly, her voice soothing and sweet - as only a wife‟s, a lover‟s, and a
mother‟s can be.

Ahu grunts, sits up, breaking her embrace – embarrassed by all that it contains.
He crosses to the bedroom window, pulls back the curtain and stares at the face
of Christchurch suburbia, with its pea-soup pallid sky, pock-marked with blotches
of orange street-lights. Beneath, dull pulses of white headlights and red tail lights
accompany the tyre hiss and engine rumble of early morning commuter traffic
groping its way slowly through the dense fog.

Suburbia stares blindly back at Ahu, flea-sized, boxed into a mustard colored
fibre-lite flat – with its tatty rooms, asbestos glitter ceilings, a flaking chrome &
formica kitchen. Ahu‟s bedroom view is looking up at a six-lane ring road - it‟s
outer concrete barriers oppressively close to their damp and dingy dwelling,
compressed, cloned and constructed on council land surplus to by-pass
requirements.

Ahu turns back to Tina.
“They‟ll be here soon. We better get packing, eh.”
“There nothing much left to pack.”
“Better to have sold our stuff than leave it behind for them.”
”I‟ll wake the kids.”



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                                                                                  -3-
                                                                       The River Walkers
                                                                    Jeffrey Addison 2009




Te Puru, New Brighton Beach car-park
In his loft bed above the engine and front seats of a nineteen-sixty-eight Bedford
house-bus, Matt Stevenson yawns, then turns to pull back the curtains. He looks
out at the mist peeling away from a calm pacific ocean, revealing a bright blue
sky above an expansive, empty beach. He nudges his still sleeping wife, Kara,
who pulls the duvet covers over her head.

“Wake up darling. It‟s gonna be an awesome day for travelling.”
“You start driving. I‟ll get up soon.”
“You can‟t navigate from under the bed-covers. C‟mon, let‟s skip breakfast.
We need to get going before the traffic gets too heavy!”

Jax, their Jack Russell terrier, springs out of his box down below them and
barks expectantly. Their six year old son Maru, sleeping in his own little loft at the
rear of the house bus, wakes and calls out to the dog.
“ Turituri Jax! Kei te moe au.”
“Not anymore boy…Maranga mai!”

Jax scratches at the door.
“Papa! Jax wants a mimi.”
“So do I Maru.”
“Me too!”

Matt and Maru climb down their respective loft ladders and exit the bus with
Jax in search of a bush to pee on, out of the sight of pedestrians and joggers.
Five minutes later the house-bus they named „Te Puru‟ snorts blue smoke
before roaring to life, pulling away from the kerb to join the traffic heading
towards the centre of Christchurch. A speeding, metallic grey commodore is
forced to brake, before over-taking the bus, its horn blaring.


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                                                                                   -4-
                                                                     The River Walkers
                                                                  Jeffrey Addison 2009




In Ronnie‟s Commodore, Upper Riccarton Road.

“Bloody Hippies! Go back to your gardens!”
“Slow down Ronnie!”
 “Who‟s next on the heave-ho list then?” Ronnie asks his shaven-headed brother.
Vince checks his clipboard as Ronnie drives along upper Riccarton Road, his
hairy, ring-heavy hands grasping the retro-fitted racing wheel of his pimped out
metallic grey Commodore.
 “ Tauwakas. Mum, Dad & four cling ons.”
“Bet you a lazy twenty I get the arrears off them before they leave.”
“ You‟re on. Those bastards spend their money as soon as they get any. That‟s
why they keep having to move on.”
“ Everybody has something stashed away. Just a matter of persuading them to
part with it.” Vince shakes his clenched mitt in Ronnie‟s face.
“Keep your bloody eyes on the road! You‟ll rear-end us in the fog. Save your
tough guy for the Tauwakas.”
“Relax Vince – it‟s just for show, to get the dough...”
“Next right… 12 c, Horrock place.”
“What a bloody rubbish dump this street is. ”
“Yeah – a real flea magnet.”
“It‟s them yellow flats.”
Vince parks his car, adjusts his tie and checks it in the rear view mirror before
getting out. Ronnie is half-way up the concrete path of the flat before he realizes
Vince is not out of the car yet.
“As if anybody gives two shits what you look like round here.”
“Look good feel good Ronnie.”



             _____________________________________________



12C Horrock Place, Christchurch.
Vince pounds on the door of 12C. Four year old Pikao Tauwaka opens it,
clutching a teddy bear. Her eyes widen as she takes in the sight of the Kilroy
brothers towering above her. Vince leans down to her.
“Hello little girl. Is your mummy or daddy - ”
“Go away! This is our home, ballheads!” Pikao slams the door in their faces.
Vincent knocks again, but with less authority. After a few seconds Ahu opens
the door, with his daughter peeking out from behind him.
“Mister Tauwaka – I‟m Ronnie Kilroy & this is my brother Vincent.”



                                                                                 -5-
                                                                      The River Walkers
                                                                   Jeffrey Addison 2009

“I thought it was Tweedledum and Tweedle-dee. You clowns are here to evict us,
right?”
“You‟re two months behind and the Agency has a strict policy regarding non-
payments…”
“So send me another bill.”
“Settle up right now, then we‟ll make a call and see what they say about letting
you keep the lease.”
“If I could pay the rent I would pay the rent, but I can‟t pay what I haven‟t got.”
“Come on Mister Tauwaka – everybody else is in the same boat – it‟s a matter of
priorities. You put what you‟ve got into making good here, then we go away and
everybody‟s happy.”
“Bullshit. We‟re out no matter what – I know the way yous operate.”
“Mister Tauwaka If you don‟t pay what you owe us things could go badly for you
when it comes to renting a house in the future...”
 “Your name will be put on a black-list, which will make renting a house in this city
and many others difficult if not impossible.” Vince opines, shaking his head.
“As well it will affect your credit rating…no more H.P.s…no more Instant
Finance…” grins Ronnie, his gold capped molars glinting wetly.
“We‟ve - got - no - money.”
“Then perhaps we‟ll just take some of your assets to the value of what you owe.”
“ You‟re not taking my teddy!” Pikao yells up at the Kilroy brothers.
“Tell them pāpā – they‟re not taking teddy!”
“ No they‟re not, Pikao.”
“Why don‟t we have a look around and see what you‟ve got….”

Ronnie goes to force his way inside and is abruptly stopped by Ahu‟s steely grip
on his shoulder.
“You can go inside when we‟ve left the house. You‟re welcome to whatever we
leave behind. Got that, tweedledee?”
“Alright! Leggofmeforfucksake!”

Ahu lets Ronnie squirm for a couple of seconds longer before pushing him
backwards and turning back to the rest of his family, who have gathered in the
hallway. He shoulders a large pack and picks up two sports bags.
“E te whanau – me haere tatau.”

The Tauwaka family exit the flat, each carrying an assortment of bags and black
plastic rubbish sacks stuffed with their clothes and bedding. Barefoot, Ahu leads
the way with Pikao at his side. Following them is ten year old Miharo, decked out
in two dollar shop bling, baseball cap & scarf . A pack on his back, X-box under
one arm, a plastic bag full of games under the other, he glares with naked hatred
at the Kilroy brothers.
“Laters, baldheads.”

Behind Miharo is eight year old Te Huruhuru, clothes and hair equally




                                                                                  -6-
                                                                      The River Walkers
                                                                   Jeffrey Addison 2009

dishevelled. He sees his father‟s new workboots on the porch alcove and grabs
them. “You‟re not getting my papa‟s boots, baldhairs!”
“It‟s baldheads you gaybo…” corrects Miharo.

Iramaia, twelve years old and the oldest of the Tauwaka children, leaves the flat
with a large pack on her back, carrying a worn, much loved and played guitar.
Tina brings up the rear, carrying a box full of kitchen crockery. She hands the flat
keys to Ronnie – still rubbing his shoulder and trying to erase Ahu‟s imprint in it.
“This must give you a lot of job satisfaction, evicting hard-up families like ours.”
“Some-one‟s got to do it love. If it wasn‟t us it‟d be some-one else.”
“Well have a nice day and go fuck yourselves.”
“Same to you sweet-heart.”

Ronnie and Vince watch baleful and impotent as the Tauwaka family trudge
off, merging with the foggy, smoggy morning. Neighbours peer out at them from
behind ragged net curtains. Miharo gives a „west-side‟ gang-salute to one of his
friends watching and is scolded by Tina. Ahu does not look back.

Vince turns to his brother.
“Going soft are we Ronnie?”
“That bastard‟s got a grip like King Kong.”
“Twenty bucks you owe me Tough Guy.”
“Take it out of what we get from inside.”

The Kilroy brothers walk inside through the house, now completely empty of
chattels except for the stripped beds.
“Take it out of what?!!”



              ________________________________________________



Aboard Te Puru, Highway 74.
“So what highway are we on now?” Matt asks, his voice sharper than usual.
Kara studies the map from the dining table in the middle of the bus. Maru is
sitting belted in the passenger seat next to his father.
“Seventy-four. We should be on Greer‟s road.”
“Well we‟ve just gone past a sign that says Grahams - again!”
“Yeah, that‟s right. Greer goes into Graham‟s.”
“Why didn‟t you say so? And what‟s the highway to the West Coast?”
“Number seventy-three.”
“How far off is the turn-off?”
“Hard to tell exactly. “


                                                                                  -7-
                                                                        The River Walkers
                                                                     Jeffrey Addison 2009

“What kind of bloody answer‟s that? How many blocks?”
“This map doesn‟t give that detail. Have a look yourself!”
Kara flings the map towards Mathew.
“As if I can look at it in all this traffic!”
“Don‟t get so septic at me then.”
“We‟re going in circles that‟s why! ”
“It‟s not my fault you keep missing the turn-off!”
“It‟s the fog‟s fault not mine. You‟ve got eyes too haven‟t you?!”
Maru points at the approaching sign. “Number seventy three!”
“Good spotting son! At least one of us is on the ball…”

Matt steers Te Puru onto highway 73 past a road sign reading – Hokitika 248
kms. The Southern Alps in their autumnal splendor form a hazy backdrop to the
sign. “How long d‟you think it‟ll take us to get there?” Kara asks.
“Depends on the conditions crossing Arthurs pass. On a day like today it should
only take four or five hours at the most… Holy shit – look at this.”

Through a shimmering heat haze, walking in single file along the verge of the
highway, is the Tauwaka family. They are spread out over a couple of hundred
metres, with Ahu leading the way, carrying Pikao on his shoulders. Pikao likewise
is carrying her doll on her shoulders. She sees the house-bus approaching and
sticks out her thumb, hitching style. Behind them Iramaia plays on her guitar as
she walks ahead of her brothers. She sings a waiata, accompanied by her
mother, who brings up the rear.

Kara shouts from the back of the bus - “Hey - they‟re a whanau... Matt – stop!”

It takes another couple of hundred metres for this to happen, with Te Puru
eventually halting, rocking on its springs in a cloud of dust, half on the gravel
verge and half on the highway. Ahu puts his daughter on the ground and runs up
to the side of the bus, as Matt descends from the passenger-side door.

“Kia ora! We‟re going to the Coast.”
“So are we - to Hokitika.”
“Sweet...We live not far from there. Is there room for all of us & our gears?”
“We‟ll make room....Matt‟s the name. Matt Stevenson.”
Ahu shakes his extended hand.
“I‟m Ahu Tauwaka. One thing I gotta know though, before I accept the ride -
you‟re not a bible basher are you?”
“No - I haven‟t even read it - although I did try to, once.”
“It‟s just that we‟ve got lifts with holy rollers before - and I‟d rather keep on
walking than let my family get any more righteous lectures.”
“I attended a few righteous lectures when I was a varsity student.”
 “You seem alright to me -“
 “So do you want a lift or not?”
Ahu smiles widely. “Yeah bro - we‟ll come with you.”



                                                                                    -8-
                                                                         The River Walkers
                                                                      Jeffrey Addison 2009



Ahu gestures to the rest of his family. In response they pick up their pace. Kara
comes out of the bus to greet Ahu. The Tauwaka children approach shyly. Matt
opens a door at the rear of the bus.

“Kia ora tamariki mā. Put your things in here.”
The children stow their baggage. Tina walks up to stand beside Ahu. He takes
her luggage and puts it with the rest of their belongings. Tina thanks Kara for the
lift. Kara welcomes their family on board. Before Ahu stows his pack he removes
something wrapped by a cloth from one of the pockets. Ahu closes the door,
boards the bus and goes to sit in the passenger seat at the front, next to Matt.
“Do you like pounamu?”
“Eh?”
“Green-stone, you know - jade.”
“I‟m wearing some, if that‟s what you mean...” Matt indicates the pendant around
his neck.

Seeing this, Ahu unwraps the cloth to reveal a palm-sized, river-washed stone -
pale green with patches of dark translucent green pounamu beneath. He hands it
to Matt.
“It‟s a Koha - for giving us a ride.”
“But - I can‟t accept that!...”
“We got no money to help pay for your gas. Take it.
Matt accepts the stone. “It‟s heavy...”
“It‟s a good quality stone ... inanga...I sawed the rind off the end to check - see?”
“How did you get it?”
“I found it in our river. It‟s yours now.”


              _____________________________________________




Aboard Te Puru, Highway Seventy Three.
Matt places the stone with reverence in front of the gear stick, below the
dashboard of the bus. “Everybody got a seat? We‟re off!” Matt revs the engine
and steers Te Puru out onto highway seventy-three again.

Ahu looks behind him. “Kei te pehea, whanau?”
Pikao, now seated with her mother on one of the house-bus couches, answers
excitedly. “Kei te pai Pāpā!”
“So where are you from, bro?
“I‟ve got ties to Akaroa - to Kati Irakehu, but I‟ve lived in Christchurch all my life.”
“Thought you had some of us in you... it‟s getting harder to tell who‟s a Māori
these days.


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                                                                      The River Walkers
                                                                   Jeffrey Addison 2009

“Māori is as Māori does I reckon.”
“I‟m Tahu Poutini – west coast born and bred.”
“How long have you been walking?”
“An hour or so - not long.”
Ahu stretches his legs out. “We‟re on our way home. Had enough of city life for a
while. Didn‟t matter how hard I worked - always one more bill to pay on top of
another. All bills and no thrills. Not going to let my kids go hungry either, just to
pay some land-lord‟s rip-off rent! Four kids to feed - and another one coming.”
“Two‟s a handful for us - I don‟t know how we‟d cope with five.”
“We get by... usually better than this - but I‟ve been out of work for a while -
wouldn‟t wear my boots on site, see. Never could get used to them. Boots just
make you careless. Alright in the winter I s‟pose. WINZ gave me a voucher so I
brought a flash pair when I started mahi as a labourer for this building job, but I
couldn‟t get used to wearing them...and those scratchy socks too! I kept taking
them off...but then I‟d get blisters from the boots - hard-case!”
“They‟d come in handy walking along the side of the highway, wouldn‟t they?”
“Soles of my feet are hard as a boot‟s anyway...So what are you fullas up to -
going to a gypsy fair or something?”
“Or something - when the school holidays are over we‟re performing a puppet
show at some schools on the West Coast.”
“Puppets shows! You get by doing that?”
“You can if you‟re prepared to travel... This is more of a life-style and we‟re
helping keep a māori tradition alive.”
“What tradition‟s that bro?”
“Māori puppets...They‟re called kare-tao - carved stick puppets.”
“No shit? I never heard of no māori puppets. Are you coming to Aruhura Pā?”
“At the moment we‟re booked to perform only at primary schools in Hokitika.”
“We‟ve got a big kohanga reo out at the pā. Hey Tina! These guys are
performers! Doing a puppet show. We should get them to come to the kohanga.”
Tina reacts enthusiastically. “Could yous? I can arrange it - see if the marae is
available.”
 “Our schedule is flexible... I‟m sure we could find the time to go out to the Pā.”
 Ahu beams. “So you‟re going to perform a puppet show for us? Too much!...”



                     _____________________________________________




                                                                                 - 10 -
                                                                       The River Walkers
                                                                    Jeffrey Addison 2009


Aboard Te Puru, Darfield.
The bus drives past a road sign indicating the outskirts of the village of Darfield.
Warm, westerly winds send ripples through fields of long grass - dry and yellow
from the rapidly ebbing summer. The Southern Alps are much nearer than
before, snow fringed, looming above. Iramaia is playing a kohanga reo song on
her guitar that Pikao is singing along to. Kara runs a tap and pours a glass of
water, handing it to Tina. “It‟s reasonably cold.”
“If it‟s wet it‟ll do...thanks.”
Tina drinks till the glass is empty and hands it back to Kara.
“How long till baby comes?”
“Another couple of months - most of my babies have been early though - so I
never really know for sure. ”
“You can lie down if you feel like it, up in the front loft.”
“Here‟s fine. This is a beautiful house bus. Water on tap, loft bedrooms - even a
kitchen sink. At the Pā we live in caravans mostly - by the river. “
“Caravans are pretty much the same thing as a house-bus aren‟t they?”
“This is more roomy - more homey too, especially with the pot-belly stove.”
“It feels pretty small to me sometimes, when I need my own space and there isn‟t
really any.”
“There‟s always the outdoors.”
“There‟s always plenty of that, living like this.”
“How long have you been on the road for?”
“We‟ve been touring for three years, ever since we graduated from varsity - I did
a media studies degree while Matt did Performing Arts.”
Kara turns her attention to the rear loft, where her son is playing a video game on
his portable play station, while the Tauwaka boys watch on.”
Maru you let those boys have a go - they‟ve seen what an expert you are!”
“I‟ve nearly completed this mission!”
“Give them a turn.”

Maru reluctantly hands the console over to an eager Miharo.
“I started a computer course at this polytechnic - they gave you a free computer
and everything... but I then I got pregnant again and couldn‟t keep up with all the
tests and assignments and besides we had to sell the computer anyway... so I
didn‟t get to graduate. Mighta been able to get a computing job if I‟d stuck at it...”
“Being a university graduate doesn‟t guarantee you a job - all it does is guarantee
you‟ll have a huge debt to pay off.”
“You don‟t have to be a graduate to have them...that‟s why we‟re hitching.”
“That‟s why we‟re living in a house bus.”


              ______________________________________________




                                                                                  - 11 -
                                                                   The River Walkers
                                                                Jeffrey Addison 2009


Aboard Te Puru, Arthur‟s Pass

Travelling at a second-gear crawl the old house-bus roars past a sign reading
Arthur‟s pass. The alpine tree life is stunted to bonsai proportions dwarfed by
rocky outcrops and craggy peaks. Even in the stillness of a windless, late
summer‟s day, life for flora was a daily struggle to survive. Matt shouts to Ahu
over the noise of the engine.

“So I wonder who Arthur was!”
“Some desk-hugging bald-head in the government probably!...”
Kara yells from the table. “He‟s the one credited with discovering this route
through the alps! But I bet he wasn‟t the first!”
Ahu scoffs. “‟Course he wasn‟t! Our people have been doing the crossing for a
thousand years before Arthur did it. He was probably just the first pakeha.”
“Whoever they were they must have been bloody tough to walk over this kind of
terrain! It looks freezing outside - and it‟s not even Winter!”
“It‟s easier by bus for sure!”
“How‟s his temperature, Matt?!” Kara asks.
“It‟s getting close to let‟s stop and let him cool down time!”
“Our bus Te Puru doesn‟t handle steep hills so well...and we‟re pretty loaded
up!” Kara explains to Tina.
“There‟s some good picnic spots ahead...we could eat something there perhaps.”
“If it overheats then we‟ll have to stop where-ever we can pull over!...”

They gaze out the windows at the sheer walls on one side and the ravine on the
other. Ahu observes “Bro - Here would not be the place to pull over .
“Agreed - we‟ll just keep on going!”
“No hurry - eh!”
“This old bus can‟t hurry - even downhill!”

Te Puru drives through another steep cutting, suddenly revealing a sparkling
Tasman sea in the far distance below. At three thousand meters above sea level
it is a view you would expect from a plane rather then a bus. Ahu bursts out upon
glimpsing the sea, pointing.
“See over there! That‟s Hokitika! There - that‟s the mouth of our river - where
the Pā is. That‟s where we‟re going! Man! Gets me every time - just seeing home
again...”
Matt changes into third with a noticeable drop in engine volume.
“I‟m just glad to see the temperature gauge going down again!”
Kara calls out. “We‟re hungry back here! Let‟s stop and have a kai and a cup of
coffee!”


                    _________________________________________



                                                                              - 12 -
                                                                        The River Walkers
                                                                     Jeffrey Addison 2009




Cathedral Square, Christchurch.
“Cappachino - three sugars, with cinnamon topping!”
“ Thank you dear.”

Nawhiro Corporation board member Rex Te Ahorangi Sullivan accepts his coffee
then slowly makes his way to an outdoor table of the café. He gently eases his
capacious buttocks onto a chair with the care of a man who has experienced
them breaking underneath him before. He rests his ornately carved walking stick
against a nearby chair, then hits the speed dial button on his cell-phone.
“Walter, I‟ve got another order - it‟s a big one... three tonnes... same rate as last
time, dependent on the quality of course.... when can you get it by?.... No
sooner?...
Good lad - that‟s what I like to hear... Half up front, half on delivery. I‟ll transfer
the money into your account today...Call me when you‟ve got it.”

Rex sips on his cappachino, soaking up the heat of the morning sun, like a slit-
eyed lizard on a rock. His reptilian grin is accentuated by a cinnamon laced
crème moustache. It widens as he contemplates his increasing fortune, and the
relative ease involved in amassing it.



              ___________________________________________



Rest Area, Otira Gorge.
Te Puru steams past the blue triangular sign indicating a rest area. Matt hits the
brakes and steers the bus off the highway, unsettling the resident flock of mottled
green Kea who have been perched on the rest area railings. They scatter,
spiralling into the air, where they inspect this latest interloper more safely from
above. The children emerge from the bus to explore the surrounds. Tina and
Iramaia come out with baskets of fruit, bread and a chilly bin. They place them on
a weathered picnic table and begin unpacking sandwiches. Matt and Ahu
disembark.
“You smoke Matt?”
“Tobacco is Kara‟s vice, not mine.”
“I mean pot... You‟re a house-trucker - you must do.”
“Goes with the territory does it?”
“I‟ve got a smoke rolled if you‟re keen.”



                                                                                   - 13 -
                                                                        The River Walkers
                                                                     Jeffrey Addison 2009

“Looks like we‟ll be stopping for a while - just a puff eh.”

They walk behind the housebus, out of sight of the others. Kea land on top of the
bus and walk up and down the roof, tugging at the ropes and fittings on the roof-
rack. Pikao squeals excitedly. “Māmā - The birdies are eating the bus!
“They‟re just curious Pikao. ” Tina replies.
Have we got anything to feed them?”
 “Will they eat fruit? Can I give them an apple?”
“They‟ll eat your hand if you let them!” Iramaia warns.
“I won‟t let them! Can I try?”
“After lunch! Now go and tell everybody that kai is ready.”

Pikao runs over to her brothers, who are standing on a viewing platform.
Kara emerges with a tray carrying plastic cups of coffee and water.
“This is where a mobile kitchen is really handy.”
Laughter erupts from behind the bus.
“Iramaia - Go and tell those men to come and have a kai.”
“Yeah - by the smell of things, they‟ll have the munchies for sure.”

The Kea are attracted to the chrome of the bus windows and try to
prise it off. One succeeds in dislodging a piece of chrome trim.
Matt is the first to react, running up to the bus, arms waving wildly.
“Get away you cheeky bloody pests! Get them Jax!”
Jax runs in tight circles, barking hysterically up at the birds who
wheel off into the skies, their taunting squawks echoing up and down the gorge.

              _____________________________________________



Aboard Te Puru, Kumara.

Te Puru breezes through Kumara, past a road sign indicating Hokitika 30 kms
away. Iramaia plays on her guitar around the table across from Kara, who surfs
the net on her lap-top. The boys are sleeping up in the rear loft. Pikao is asleep
with her mother in the front loft. Of the Tauwaka family only Ahu remains
animated and awake. “I tell you bro - the closer I get to the kaike the better I feel.”
“What are you going to do once you get back?”
“Same as always - go whitebaiting when they‟re running - or collecting peat for
the export flower market - you can make a fair bit there - but mostly I carve
pounamu and walk the river, collecting stone. I sell it at one of the tourist galleries
in town. There‟s always work if you want it...”
“I‟ve done a bit of pounamu carving too - but only for family, not for sale...”
“Yeah? Tell you what - if we do a short detour to my family lock-up - I‟ve got a bit
of stone there you might be interested in...”



                                                                                   - 14 -
                                                                      The River Walkers
                                                                   Jeffrey Addison 2009

                     _______________________________________



Ahu’s Lock up, Kumara Junction.
Ahu pulls up the roller-door. Matt is by his side. Lining the walls of the garage are
shelves filled with boxes and boxes of green-stone, of all shapes and sizes,
some with flakes in them, some with cut slabs, others containing entire boulders.

“This was my dad‟s workshop and lock-up - he walked the river all his life with
Mum and us collecting stone. Some of this we‟ve found, but a lot of it was
brought out before my time, before my dad‟s even - way backs...”

Matt is in awe of the sight of so much pounamu.
“I‟ve never seen so much of it!”
“All taken out by hand over the generations. That‟s our way. If you can carry it out
yourself - it‟s yours - if you can‟t, you leave it where you found it. That‟s our
tikanga. Simple as that.”

Ahu rummages among some small cardboard boxes at the front of the lock-up.
He finds an empty one and begins to put some pieces into it. He finds a particular
piece of pounamu and holds it up to the light. “See these speckles? This is
kokopu jade - named after our native trout - He puts it in the box and brings out
another piece, also holding it up to the light.
“This is a slab of kawakawa - no flaws or cracks. You should able to make you a
carving or two from it. This isn‟t a bad flake either... Take a look at this -
- it‟s almost black like obsidian, but you can see the green around the edges.”

Matt marvels at it. He hands it back to Ahu who puts it in the box.
“All this pounamu! This collection must be worth a fortune Ahu!”
“Yep - but apart from what I carve, none of it‟s for sale - I just trade a bit every
now and then.”
“But I‟ve got nothing to trade for this.”
“Whaddayou mean? You‟re putting on a puppet show for us aren‟t you?”
“We are.”
“There you go - we‟re even.”
Ahu gives the box to Matt, then reaches up to shut the roller door.




                     ___________________________________________




                                                                                 - 15 -
                                                                    The River Walkers
                                                                 Jeffrey Addison 2009




The Camp, Arahura Pā.
Te Puru slows as it comes up to the one-way dual railway/highway bridge
spanning the Arahura river.
Ahu points to a drive-way leading off to the right, just before the bridge. Matt
steers the bus off the highway onto a dusty gravel road. Te Puru gingerly pushes
his way through head high broom and bracken, brushing his wing mirrors on the
scrub pressing in from either side.
“Take the left fork - now - slow down - there‟s a bit of a dip ahead...”
Te Puru lurches in and out of a series of long, deep pot-holes, flinging pots onto
the floor of the bus.
“I said slow down bro - you‟ll bottom out!... turn right here!”
The bracken parts, revealing a clearing defined by a ring of rusty caravans and
old railway worker huts on skids. A battered ute is parked next to an equally
weathered Toyota sedan. Free-range hens and roosters scatter as Te Puru
roars into the clearing. Matt brings the house bus to a stop next to the vehicles,
then turns off the engine. The two families emerge eagerly from the confines of
the bus. Upon finding nobody in the huts Pikao shouts out “Taua must be down
the mouth!”
The Tauwaka children rush off a small path leading through the broom to the side
of the river, followed more slowly by the adults and Maru.



                    ______________________________________




The Mouth.
Millie Tauwaka is fishing for white-bait, along with half a dozen other people,
spread out up and down the sandy mouth of the Arahura river. Each person is
sitting on portable stools next to their nets, buckets, thermos flasks, books and
portable radios. The setting sun is casting orange tinted light over rippled sand
dunes, reflecting on the water.

“Taua!” Pikao greets her grand-mother, whose astonishment gives way to
pleasure as she stands to hug her. The older Tauwaka children come up to
where they are embracing. Each in turn are greeted and hugged by Millie.
Ahu and Tina emerge from the path, followed by Matt, Kara and Maru holding his
mother‟s hand.



                                                                               - 16 -
                                                                     The River Walkers
                                                                  Jeffrey Addison 2009

Pikao skips around excitedly. “We got a lift in a house-bus Taua - it‟s got ladders
and everything!”
Ahu arrives and bear hugs his mother.
“Caught enough inanga for a feed, Ma?”
“Enough for a feed and some! Why didn‟t you phone or text me you were
coming?”
Ahu shrugs. “No credit.”
After hugging and kissing Ahu, Millie puts her hand on Tina‟s swelling belly.
“You are having baby here then?”
“Better here than in the city.”
“I don‟t know why you keep going back...”
“Nomadic is what we are. ”
“No mahi more likely.”
“Ae! No mahi is why we‟re nomadic!”
Pikao spots Ricky McPhee sitting a hundred or so meters away at the adjacent
fishing spot.
“Uncle Ricky!” She runs off to hug him.
Millie is introduced to the Stevenson family, while the children fan out along the
banks of the river, inspecting the fish buckets of the others.
“So you‟ll be staying with us for a while too?” Millie says in a way that is more
command than question.
Kara replies “Thank you - for a couple of days anyway.”
“There‟s plenty of room here - especially if you‟ve got your own bus.”
Ahu says “I can always hack back the broom. Yous can stay as long as you like.
Mum is that Ricky‟s ute parked next to your car?”
“Yes... he‟s been coming down a lot this white-bait season.”
“Good season eh?”
“He‟s been good company for me - I get lonely here on my own now. Why don‟t
you go and say hello to him Ahu.”
“We need to get settled in first...I‟ll save my hellos for later. Come on Matt I‟ll
show you where to park the bus.” Ahu turns and walks back along the path,
followed by Matt.
Millie watches the retreating Ahu then turns to Tina.
“He‟ll stop blaming Ricky one day.”
“Maybe.”
Millie sighs then calls “Iramaia! Go and round up your brothers! Help me carry
the nets back...”


                    _________________________________________




                                                                                - 17 -
                                                                      The River Walkers
                                                                   Jeffrey Addison 2009




The Camp.

Dusk. The house bus is parked beside a caravan, extending the arc of the
dwellings. Ahu lights a fire inside a forty-four gallon drum. A generator coughs
into life, powering up a string of lights linking the huts and caravans - providing
outside lighting for all of them. Tina and Millie are inside one of the worker‟s huts
that is used solely as a kitchen, preparing dinner.
Millie calls out “Te Huruhuru! We need those eggs boy! Can‟t make these fritters
without them!”
 Te Huruhuru emerges grinning from behind one of the caravans, straw in his
hair, his hands and pockets laiden with eggs.
“I‟ve got heaps of them!”
“I only want the fresh ones from the laying boxes, not the ones from under the
caravans! ” Te Huruhuru‟s face drops.

Matt comes out of the bus carrying the box of pounamu that Ahu has given him.
Kara and Maru follow.
“Just off to the river Ahu - to wash the pounamu.”
“Getting the dust off eh?”
“We‟re going to bless it.”
“Yeah? Go for it...”
The Stevenson family walk off towards the riverbank with Jax. Miharo comes up
to his father, carrying split wood.
“Put it down there, son.”
Ricky comes up carrying his whitebait net. He is short and squat in stature, be-
spectacled with a bushy beard. He tosses his net on the tray of his ute,
comes over to Ahu and holds out his calloused hand. Ahu shakes it without
warmth.
“Ricky.”
“The Tauwaka whanau back again!”
“We‟re never away for long.”
“It‟s been a ripper of a season so far - more bait than in years.”
“That right?”
“I reckon the run‟s nearly over though...are you coming back to the jade factory?”
“Dunno. Haven‟t done much carving for a while.”
“It‟s good you‟re back... Be seeing you Millie!”
“Not staying for a cuppa Rick?”
“No - I‟ve got to get this bait to the restaurant...See you round Ahu.”
Ahu grunts, and loads more fire-wood into the drum. Ricky drives off, leaving a
plume of blue smoke behind. Ahu notices a distant helicopter flying up the river
valley. It disappears from his view.



                                                                                 - 18 -
                                                                     The River Walkers
                                                                  Jeffrey Addison 2009




             ____________________________________________


Inside the Helicopter.
Walter Thomas, Nawhiro Corporation Ranger, sits next to his father Angus,
piloting a Bell Huey helicopter. Through the comms he asks Angus. “How long
till you return, Dad?”
“I‟ll be back at just before dawn, depending on the weather.”
“What if it pisses down like forecast?”
“Then I‟ll be back when it stops raining.”
“What‟s the lifting capacity?”
“Two tonnes give or take.”
“We won‟t get it all on the one trip then.”
“We can afford to make an extra one can‟t we?”
“It wont break the bank! It‟s just a bit more hassle that‟s all.”
“Damn sight more hassle getting it out any other way.”
Walter looks at the petrol powered diamond saw stowed at his feet.
“That‟s the beauty of technology - takes all the hassle out of things.”
“You got that right, son.”


                    _________________________________________




Riverside.
The light is rapidly dimming as Matt, Kara and Maru walk out onto the dry boulder
bed lining the Arahura. Matt puts the box down upon a boulder at the edge of the
water, then begins to individually wash the pieces of pounamu given to him that
day. Kara and Maru squat next to Matt, observing him. Jax sticks his nose in too.
“Getoutofit Jax!”
“See this Maru - it‟s called kokopu - look it has flecks in it just like the fish.”
“Let me wash it!”

Matt gives the pounamu flake to Maru, who holds it under the water.
From out of the central flow of the river a rainbow trout swims up to them.
It stops, quite motionless, as if studying them.
“Is this normal? Matt whispers, transfixed.
The trout swims slowly in tight circles around the stone Maru is holding.
then stops again before Matt.
“No, this is freaky...”Kara whispers back.


                                                                                - 19 -
                                                                        The River Walkers
                                                                     Jeffrey Addison 2009



Matt reaches his hands into the water and strokes the belly of the fish, which
remains motionless. Matt lifts the trout gently out of the water, scales iridescent
even in the greying light of dusk. It lays supine in his hands. Like the fish - open
mouthed, eyes goggling, Matt holds it before the others.
“What‟s wrong with it Daddy? Is it sick?”
Matt lowers the fish gently back into the water.
“No son, it‟s just - saying hello to us.”
“Hello fishie!”
 After a couple of seconds of stillness, a sudden burst of Jax‟s excited barking
sends the rainbow trout shooting off like a projectile, disappearing back into the
midst of the river. Kara looks at Matt.
“He tohu tēnā.”
“A good omen for sure.”


                     ___________________________________



The Camp.

The Tauwaka and Stevenson families are sharing a meal of white-bait fritter
sandwiches, standing around the forty-four gallon fire-drum. Ahu laughs upon
being told by Matt about the strange visitation from the fish.
“Bro - why did you let it go? We could‟ve had trout to go with our fritters!”
“We couldn‟t kill it - not after showing such amazing trust in us.”
“Are there many tame fish here then?” Kara asks.
“No live ones. I‟ve never heard of them doing something as suicidal as
volunteering for a tickle before. That ika must a had a death wish.”

Millie comes up to Ahu.
“I‟ve seen stranger fish than that in this river.”
She hands him an envelope with a letter in it.
“This came last week - from the Nawhiro Corporation.”
“Those Ngati tāone!.”
“They say I can‟t walk the river anymore.”
“What?!!”
“Only those with the whakapapa can. I s‟pose that means you‟re still allowed to,
through Rongo‟s side. It wasn‟t like this in your father‟s day.”
“Mum you‟ve been walking the river all my life - and you always will be.
Regardless of what some dickheads sitting in their glass tower in Christchurch
say!”
“It‟ll take more than a letter from them to stop me walking the river, after all these
years.”
He screws up the letter and throws it in the fire.


                                                                                   - 20 -
                                                                       The River Walkers
                                                                    Jeffrey Addison 2009

“That‟s right ma - Kai mō te ahi.”

The wind begins to rise. A distant clap of thunder is heard.

              ___________________________________________



Westland plateau.
High up where the mountains continue to grind into each other with awesome
tectonic force, is the Westland Plateau. Over millennia folded upon millennia, this
mighty compression of rock versus rock has resulted in the creation of a certain
formation hundreds of meters long and wider than a house, along the banks of a
tributary of the Arahura river. What makes this formation particularly special is
that it is made entirely from pounamu. It is the mother-lode of pounamu. It is a
reef sustaining the fish of Poutini, who migrated there seeking refuge from the
rapacious sand-stone tribe. Ever since they have been shedding their scales into
the headwaters of the Arahura, to the benefit of human-kind. For millions of
years the reef and its inhabitants have remained completely hidden under a
blanket of tenacious plants and trees. A slip of a few tonnes of vegetation and
soil on the riverbank has changed that.

While heavy rain falls around, a yellow rain-coated speck on the exposed face of
the reef is at work. Walter Thomas primes his diamond saw, before pulling the
handle. It fires quickly into life, barely audible over the rain beating off the rock
and the bush. The light from his headlamp centres on the rock-face in front of
him. He lowers the saw for the first milky cut of the night.


              __________________________________________



Ahu’s & Tina’s caravan.

Ahu is dreaming of his river again. He is sitting on a boulder staring into the
water. He hears the sound of the diamond saw, as it first begins to whine and
then bite. Hine-ro-pounamu explodes from the river, screaming. She looks down
at white blood seeping from a wound opening up on her forearm, then
entreatingly up at Ahu. Her bottle green eyes pierce him as the rain falls around
her.

Ahu awakes with a start, to find himself sweating, inside the caravan.
Rain is drumming on the roof.
Tina snuggles into him.


                                                                                  - 21 -
                                                                        The River Walkers
                                                                     Jeffrey Addison 2009

“I hoped those dreams would stop once we moved back...
“I‟ve missed that sound.”
Ahu begins to relax again.
“Yeah - Sounds like we could be walking the river tomorrow...”


              ______________________________________________


Matt and Kara’s loft, Te Puru.
It has been raining heavily most of the night. Another sound can now be heard
coming through the rain - a continuous rumbling. Kara is awake - she opens one
of the loft windows and listens. She nudges Matt who has been sleeping
soundly.
“Matt! Can you hear that?”
“Of course I can - it‟s the rain.”
“Not the rain!”
“The river?”
“That rumbling noise - what the hell is that?”
Kara peers through the pelting rain.
“Train maybe - I dunno.”
“It‟s coming from the river! It‟s the rocks Matt! They‟re on the move, in the river...
It‟s not going to flood here is it!?”
“Course not... but even if it does, we‟ll just drive back up to the highway and be
safe as a...house-bus.”
“I‟ll never get back to sleep now...”
“Let‟s rock and roll then...”
“Sex is not going to make me less anxious...”
“Prove it...”
Afterwards they both sleep soundly, as the river rocks rumbled on by in their
million year journey to the sea.


                             __________________________________________



On the River.
Early the next morning, the rain has stopped and a light mist hangs on the banks
of the Arahura. Three generations of the Tauwaka family and two of the
Stevenson family are walking slowly in a line, spread out over the river. They
walk beneath the black steel arches of the bridge, heading up river.

Matt breaks the silence.



                                                                                   - 22 -
                                                                        The River Walkers
                                                                     Jeffrey Addison 2009

“This water is bloody freezing!”
“It‟s not so bad once your legs go numb!” Iramaia responds.
Matt stoops and picks up a palm-sized slime covered rock. He wipes the stone.
 It is a grainy silver-beet green color. His faces lights up. He walks over to show it
to Ahu, who glances at the stone, then at Matt‟s eager face.
“It‟s serp, bro.”
“It‟s what?”
“Serpentine. It‟s like pounamu‟s poor cousin - rock that hasn‟t been squeezed so
hard. Not worth carving it either. There‟s a lot of serp in the river. You‟ll see.”

Disappointed, Matt drops the stone and continues walking, looking intently in
front of him. Tina moves to Millie‟s side.
“So, are there any secrets you‟d care to share with a novice river walker?”
“Sure. The first one is - look, don‟t talk.”
“Oh - I see - sorry.”
“Actually, the trick to finding pounamu is to let it find you...sometimes by looking
too hard, you can miss what is right there in front of you. There‟s really not much
to be found this far down the river these days, but whenever the rocks have been
turned over by the rains, it can still be worth a walk in the morning.”
“The stones all look the same to me - especially covered in this slime.”
“Unless it‟s flake, from the outside the colour of the larger stones is nothing like
what you see hanging around people‟s necks. It‟s got a skin on it, that can be
thick or thin and any colour from creamy white through to dark brown.”
“You make them sound like people.”
“Oh yes, a very special people, but unless you know what to look for, you could
wander up and down the river for the rest of your life without finding any green-
stone whatsoever. Many of the wāhine who walk the river do it in bare feet,
because we can sense the stone better.”

An excited cry from Miharo gets everyone‟s attention. He waves out, clutching a
river worn flake of pounamu. “Yeah G! Who‟s da man?!”
His brothers and sisters pass it round examining it.
Te Huruhuru holds it up to the morning sun.
“It‟s got no cracks pāpā! It‟s a keeper.”
Ahu strides over to where they are clustered. He inspects the stone.
“Te ataahua hoki o tēnā unahi! Ka pai Miharo! Put it in my pack.”

The families resume walking in silence. Occasionally someone stoops to pick up
and inspect a stone, only to drop it back in the water. Out of the corner of his
eye, Ahu detects something large moving under the water towards him, from the
centre of the river. He turns his head to focus on it and the shadowy shape stops
moving, then disappears. Ahu wades over to where he saw the shape. It is in a
deeper part of the river, where the water is up to his hips. He recognizes this as
the place in his recurrent disturbing dreams. His legs are suddenly pulled from
under him and Ahu falls backwards into the water. He flails about in a panic,
before rolling over and opening his eyes under water. He reaches out and down



                                                                                   - 23 -
                                                                     The River Walkers
                                                                  Jeffrey Addison 2009

to pick up a pulsating green stone, untouched by the brown slime coating the
other rocks in the Arahura river bed.

Ahu regains his footing and stands, in awe of the stone. It‟s inner glow seen
underwater rapidly fades in the air. It is the length of his forearm, with roughly
the same dimensions - heavy and chunky at one end, with a club-like tapering to
a flatter slender other end. The stone speaks to Ahu from inside his head. It is
the fish-daughter of Poutini. „Tēnā koe e tama.‟ Ahu yells and drops the stone in
surprise.
„Kaua e pūkana pēnā! Pick me up! You kept me waiting long enough!‟
 He stares, dumbfounded down at the stone, back in the river, glowing at his feet.
 „Come on boy! We‟ve got work to do!‟
„You‟re not radio-active are you?‟
„I am quite safe in your hands.‟
Ahu retrieves the stone. He thinks - „I‟m talking with a rock. I‟ve gone completely
fucking crazy.‟
„You must tell no-one about our communication. Not even your family...‟
„Who would believe me anyway?‟
„Exactly - just act like I‟m a normal rock.‟
„That‟s not going to be easy. Normal rocks don‟t talk.‟
By now the others are coming over to see what Ahu has found. Matt is the first
to get there.
“That fall was spectacular! “
“Even the pros can slip up.”
 “Are you alright?”
“I‟m wet - that‟s all.”
“What‟ve you found?”
“Nothing much - a big bit of flake. Check it out.”
Ahu passes the stone to Matt.
“It‟s shaped like a patu! Surely this must have already been worked on at some-
time.”
“Not by humans - the river made this.”
“Hey Kara! Look what Ahu found! It‟s incredible!”



             _______________________________________________




                                                                                - 24 -
                                                                     The River Walkers
                                                                  Jeffrey Addison 2009




By the River.

Lanky Pēpē O‟Flarrety, Nawhiro Corporation Ranger, puts down his binoculars
and turns to his diminuitive colleague Dave „Dingo‟ Johnson, who is still
observing through his own set. From the cover of a thick stand of river-bank
ponga fern they have been watching the slowly approaching Tauwaka and
Stevenson families.
“It‟s the Tauwaka whanau and some others I don‟t recognize...”
“Time to check their permits is it?” replies the laconic Dave.
“I know this family - they‟re locals, so let me do the talking.”
With their N.C. Ranger badges and N.C. Ranger logos stenciled onto boiler suits,
tucked into waist high neoprene waders, they push their way through the fern
fronds lining the bend in the river until they reach the bouldered banks. They walk
towards the two families, who are still marveling over Ahu‟s find. Iramaia is the
first to see the rangers approaching. She alerts her father, who upon seeing the
men grabs the stone back from Matt and turns to confront them.

Seeing Ahu brandishing the stone makes Dingo tense and reach for the RT‟s
send button on his lapel microphone. “Dingo here... Base we could have a
possible code three, over...”
“Copy that, Dingo. What is your location.”
“We‟re on the Arahura – just north of the bridge.”
“Kia ora Ahu!”
“Sherriff O‟Flarrerty and Deputy Dawg - Spying on us are we?!”
“We‟re just policing the river - and checking permits...”
“We give ourselves permission, not you N.C. Nosey Cunt Rangers!”
“We know you are entitled Ahu, but your mother has no ancestral rights and
unless your friends have a permit to walk the river, then they are breaking the law
also.”
Ahu advances slowly upon the pair. “If you don‟t want this stone breaking your
heads, then leave us - now!”
The rangers stop their approach, look at each other, then begin reversing, palms
up towards Ahu.”
“No need to threaten us - we‟re doing this to protect the tribal resource.”
“We‟re a tribal resource too you bone-heads! We‟re the ultimate resource! And
when we need your protection I‟ll call you... till then you can stick your r.t‟s up
your arses and get!” Ahu spits, fuming at them.
“It‟s just going to get worse for you from now on - you know that sport. We‟ve got
the law backing us up...”
“Okay let‟s go, eh Dingo.”




                                                                                - 25 -
                                                                       The River Walkers
                                                                    Jeffrey Addison 2009

 “You‟ll keep. Next time we catch your mother or your friends on the river we‟ll
come back with the police and arrest their ignorant arses, and yours too for
aiding and abetting!!”
Pēpē O‟Flarrety hisses at Dingo “Shut-up, fool!”
Ahu gives a cry of rage and rushes with the stone raised over his head towards
the two Nawhiro Corporation rangers. They turn to run. Dingo tries to turn on his
radio transmitter as he splashes through the shallows, losing his balance and
falling face first into the river.
Ahu reaches Dingo before he has regained his footing, and turns him over on his
back. Dingo is clutching the microphone to his submerged and smashed R.T. He
squawks into it - “Code three!!! Base - Code three!!!”
 Ahu raises the stone to strike Dingo who cowers, waiting for the blow. Ahu‟s
arm is halted just as it begins to descend.
„Kia tau! This human is not to blame...the source of our troubles is up river. Save
your strength for the battle there.‟
The shock of hearing the voice of the Fish-daughter drains the anger out of Ahu
like a sieve. He lowers his raised arm and instead of striking him, pulls Dingo to
his feet.
“This river‟s dangerous. You could crack your head open on a rock and it‟s
„roger, over and out‟ just like that. Careful you don‟t end up the same busted up
way as your R.T.”
“We‟re not the ones making the rules here, mate.”
From inside Ahu‟s head „That‟s right. He‟s not.‟

              ______________________________________________




The Camp. Ahu & Tina’s caravan.

Ahu has changed his clothes and is sorting through his gear in the caravan.
Pikao is playing with a doll on her bunk.
Tina is with him, full of concern. “How long will you be?”
“I don‟t know...but I‟ve got to sort this out now, face to face.”
“By going on a protest walk ?”
“I‟ll show those Corporate bastards living over in Christchurch that they can‟t treat
my family like this and get away with it.”
“Why can‟t you just hitch a ride to see them?”
“It‟s got to be on foot else it doesn‟t mean anythingb.”
 “In case you hadn‟t forgotten there‟s one bloody big mountain range in between
here and Christchurch.”
“I‟ll be alright - I‟ll find me a guide.”
“ If you have to go, then take a bus, or hitch! I might have had the baby before
you get back.”


                                                                                  - 26 -
                                                                    The River Walkers
                                                                 Jeffrey Addison 2009

“I‟m walking there Tina - that‟s it.”
“Who with?”
There is a knock on the caravan door. Kara is there.
“We‟re off to town to buy some food - can we get you anything?”
Ahu answers. “We‟ll come with you - we need to get some supplies.”
He turns to Tina.
“Trying to explain why would make me sound crazy, but it has to be this way T,
believe me.”


                    __________________________________________



Main street, Hokitika
Te Puru pulls up outside a supermarket in central Hokitika. Ahu gets out of the
front passenger door. Matt disembarks from the driver‟s side, followed by Kara
and Tina via the rear exit. The women go into the four-square store to shop. Ahu
takes Matt into a green-stone gallery a few doors down the street.
“Just got some bizzo to do, bro. Have a look in here.”
“Ahu why are they all called jade or green-stone galleries? Why don‟t they use
the māori word?”
“This is for the tourist market. Tourists don‟t know what pounamu means, but
they all know what jade or green-stone is...”
“Still - it doesn‟t seem right, you know - to sell pounamu by it‟s pakeha names.”
“Hey -It‟s all about what sells not what‟s right. Get with the picture Matt.”



                    _____________________________________________



Hokitika Jade Factory & Gallery
Ahu enters the shop with Matt. Sprayed hair, overly made-up and over-dressed
gallery owner Jennifer Bolger greets Ahu warmly.
“Ahu - How wonderful to see you again!”
“Kia ora Jenny - it‟s been a while eh?”
“We‟ve completely sold out of your work, you know. I‟ve had cheques for you in
my safe for months. Why didn‟t you leave a forwarding address?”
“We didn‟t know where we were going. I‟ve come to pick them up.”
“Good. Please tell me you‟ve come back to make some more.”



                                                                               - 27 -
                                                                        The River Walkers
                                                                     Jeffrey Addison 2009

“Soon Jenny - this is Matt, a friend from Christchurch.”
“Hello Matt.”
“Hello.”
“Jenny, I‟m on a bit of a mission at the moment - is Ricky working?”
“He‟s at his post.”
“Could you show Matt around the gallery while I have a word with him?”
“Certainly! Are you looking for anything in particular, Matt?”
“er - Nothing particular as such...”
“Perhaps we should look at things within your price range then?”
“Well it‟s on the low side of low actually.”
“I see...this could be a brief tour then.”
Ahu walks through the back of the gallery to the workshops where he finds
Ricky at one of six carving booths. All the other booths are vacant. Ricky‟s booth
is cluttered and messy, with pendants in various stages of being made, hanging
from nails sticking out of shelves. Ricky is standing, shaping a pounamu pendant
at a diamond grinding wheel, wearing a waterproof apron covered in a milky-
white slurry of stone dust. Sensing Ahu behind him, he stops the grinding wheel,
removes his safety goggles and ear muffs, then turns.
“Ahu! On the job already?...”
“Where‟s all the boys gone?”
“Chasing higher paid work in the cities, like you.”
 “Chasing rainbows‟ all I‟ve been doing... Ricky, I know I‟ve been a bit of an
arsehole towards you since Dad died, but I need a guide to take me up river,
walking the old trails - across the pass, all the way down to Christchurch.”
“That right?”
“I remember hunting stories dad told us about you two, and a few S.A.S. stories
as well. You walked those trails with him didn‟t you?”
“One of our training exercises was a coast to coast - but that was a fair while
back. I don‟t go up river much these days. Why do you want to go on such a
journey?”
“It‟s a protest walk. I‟m walking all the way to those Nawhiro Corporation jokers in
their Christchurch head office. They say that Mum can‟t walk the river anymore.
Next they‟ll be trying to kick us out of our camp.”
“Millie showed me the letter - bit rough I thought.”
“Rough! - I‟m going to ram the letter down the head honcho‟s throat! They
wouldn‟t have tried this if Dad was still alive. He‟d a shown them.”
“Car‟d get you to central city Christchurch in three hours. Why a two week trek
across the Southern Alps to make your point?”
“Car is too easy. It has to be on foot, like the old people did. I‟ll go on my own if I
have to, but once we‟re in the bush, I‟d rather have some-one experienced on the
walk with me...I couldn‟t think of anyone else to ask.”
Matt has entered the workshop area and overheard the last part of their
conversation.
“A bush walk? Sounds like fun!”
“You might find this one a wee bit of a stretch, laddie.”
“It‟s Matt, actually.”



                                                                                   - 28 -
                                                                       The River Walkers
                                                                    Jeffrey Addison 2009

“Gidday Matt Actually.”
Ahu moves forward to introduce Matt. “This is Ricky McPhee - he‟s part of our
whanau.”
“Aye - the Scottish part.”
“Well Ricky, I did a fair few hikes while I was in the University tramping club, even
overnight ones. I‟ve spent some time rock-climbing too - in a gymnasium
admittedly.”
“You would be safer in your housetruck sticking to the highway, because we‟re
going way off-road.”
Ahu grins broadly... “So you‟ll get me across then?”
“I‟ll take you on one condition - you wear some bloody boots. You‟ll end up with
frost-bite otherwise - and I‟m not gonna carry you back down on my back.”
“I‟ll take some boots along.”
“We‟ll need a few supplies for the journey, a bit of ammunition.”
“You make up a shopping list and I‟ll cash some cheques.”
“I‟m still keen to come you know, especially if you‟re going hunting. How far in are
you going?”
“We‟re walking up the banks of the Arahura river to the headwaters fifty odd
kilometers away, through tussock, alpine bush and bare rock across the western
plateau part of the Southern Alps - another sixty or seventy kilometers of steep
mountain terrain, emerging at the headwaters of the Waimakariri, which we then
follow downhill all the way the remaining hundred or so klicks to
Christchurch...should take us about ten days to two weeks, depending on the
weather - bit iffy at this time of the year... chance of snow and ice through the
pass - still keen to come, laddie?”
“Over the - Alps?”
“It‟s just a stroll for us mainlanders.”
“How about it - kati Irakehu? Are you up for it, or not?”


              ______________________________________________


House-truck loft, back at the Camp.
Matt is putting clothing from draws into a very flash pack, while Kara looks on
incredulously.
“Are you nuts Matt?”
“Probably - but I can‟t back out now.”
“Yes you can. You should be focusing on getting some more bookings for our
puppet shows, not going off on some ill-conceived, protest march through the
wilderness.”
“I thought with your activism background, you‟d be supportive. Do you think I‟ll
need my polyprops?”
 “I don‟t understand why you feel the need to get involved in this.”



                                                                                  - 29 -
                                                                         The River Walkers
                                                                      Jeffrey Addison 2009

“We‟ve got a part to play or we wouldn‟t be here... “
“Your part is to be with us!”
“Come on Kara - this is partly why we‟re living this life-style - so we can be open
to the adventures that come our way.”
“That‟s fine except we‟re left with looking after the kids, while you boys are off
having the bloody adventure.”
“I wont go if you really don‟t want me to.”
“Bullshit. Take both your polyprops and your long-johns. What‟s Ahu doing to
publicise his protest?”
“I don‟t think he‟s thought about it.”
“I‟ll get onto it. It‟ll give me something to do while you‟re out there.”


                      ___________________________________________


Inside Millie’s kitchen.
Millie is making rewena bread, kneading the dough. Ricky is sitting at the table,
drinking a cup of coffee. Te Huruhuru is eavesdropping on them from under the
window.
“Do you really think Ahu can change their minds by walking to Christchurch?”
“It doesn‟t really matter what I think, Millie. “
“He‟s only just got back from the city. If you hadn‟t a said yes to being his guide -
he might‟ve dropped this silly protest walk idea.”
“I reckon he‟d still go, with or without me...it‟s as if something else is driving him -
he‟s that bloody determined.”
“That trait runs right through the Tauwaka family. Once Rongo decided he was
going to do something, well that was that.”
“I haven‟t been up the river since he died... it‟s about time I went back, and taking
Ahu up is as good a reason as any.”
“How soon are you going?”
“Tommorrow morning. We‟ll follow the Arahura as far as we can, then walk
across the pass till we reach the head-waters of the waimak.”
“That‟s a hell of a walk, Ricky.”
“I know - I‟ve done it before.”


                      _____________________________________




                                                                                    - 30 -
                                                                      The River Walkers
                                                                   Jeffrey Addison 2009


Ahu & Tina’s Caravan
Ahu is sorting through the contents of his pack, while Tina lies in bed, watching
him. Pikao is playing with her dolls at the foot of the bed.
“Are you sure you want to do this Ahu? ”
“I have to do this - T. What happened today is only going to happen again - I
won‟t wait for that - I‟ve got to go on the front foot...take some action.”
“At least if Ricky‟s with you, I wont worry so much.”
“Matt‟s coming along too.”
“Him? What for?”
“Safety in numbers.”
“As long as he can keep up the pace.”
“He seems fit enough.”
“He will be by the end of your walk.”
Pikao slips out of the caravan, signals to Te Huruhuru to come with her, then
runs next door to where Iramaia and Miharo are waiting for them. Ahu gingerly
picks up the patu-like flake, and goes to stow it in one of the pockets of his pack.
„Be careful you don‟t you drop me again! The ground can shatter me where water
will not.‟
Ahu looks at Tina, but she hasn‟t heard the stone talk.
„I wont drop you again,‟ he thinks.
„Before you wrap me up and stuff me in that pocket, I need to stretch. Take me
back to the river...‟
„Hey - I don‟t like taking orders from anyone - least of all a stone.‟
„Think of it as a request then. Just do it.‟
“Ahu are you alright? You go all vacant looking at that rock. What‟s going on?”
“Nothing T. I‟m just thinking about what else I need to take.”
„Take me down to the river boy - never mind her - move your hot blood body.‟
“I‟ve just got to get some more gears,” Ahu mumbles as he steps out the door of
their caravan, clutching the stone.


                     __________________________________



Inside the Children’s Caravan
“Pāpā, Uncle Ricky and Matua Matt are all going!” Pikao informs her siblings.
“They‟re leaving in the morning.” Te Huruhuru chips in.
“If Matua Matt can go then so should we all be allowed!” Miharo pouts.
“Yeah - it‟s our taua who can‟t walk the river no more, not his!” Te Huruhuru
agrees.
“Pāpā wont let us go. He said it was an „adults only‟ protest march.
And it‟s a long long long way” Pikao says.



                                                                                 - 31 -
                                                                         The River Walkers
                                                                      Jeffrey Addison 2009

“It is too far for you and Te Huruhuru, but me and Miharo are old enough.”
Iramaia replies then grins slyly. “Pāpā doesn‟t have to know - until it‟s too late...”
Miharo says “I‟m still packed.”
Iramaia pats her pack “Me too. Just some food to get.”



                     __________________________________




By the River
A rising moon is casting a grey blue light onto the river.
„Here will do! Place me - don‟t drop me!‟ Ahu lowers the stone carefully into the
water, only letting go when it is resting on the bed of the Arahura. The pounamu
begins to glow, brighter and brighter. The water around it starts to boil. Ahu
steps back, instinctively covering his eyes as the stone reaches a flashpoint.

The fish-daughter of poutini, no longer in her pounamu form, swims off into the
depths of the river. Ahu watches her, astonished. „Who are you - really?‟
„You can call me Hine-ro-pounamu. Think of me as a distant relation.‟
„Aunty Hine?‟
„Yes I like that. Ahhh - my fish-self is much more preferable than my stone self,
you have no idea.‟
„You got that right.‟
„Well, are you going to join me? I‟ve never swum with one of you before.‟
„Another time.‟
„Come and get me in the morning then, before you leave.‟
„I‟ll be able to find you?‟
„Yes. Now go and get some sleep - that‟s what you do at night - am I right?‟
„That‟s what we do... Po-marie Hine-ro-pounamu.‟
„Po-marie Ahu Tauwaka.‟



                     _______________________________________




                                                                                    - 32 -
                                                                       The River Walkers
                                                                    Jeffrey Addison 2009




The Camp.
Early the next morning Iramaia, Miharo, Te Huruhuru & Pikao are finishing their
breakfast around the table in the kitchen hut. Millie and Tina are clearing up.
Outside Matt and Ricky are preparing to depart, checking their respective packs.
Kara stows Matt‟s cellphone into one of his pack‟s pockets.
“I‟ve put the cell and a spare battery into a sealed bag, so even if your pack gets
wet - your phone should stay dry.”
“We‟ll be out of reception for most of the time - so don‟t count on much contact.”
“Just call me when you can.”
“I will.”
“And don‟t take any unnecessary risks.”
“I won‟t.”
“And be careful.”
“Always.”
“It‟s not too late to change your mind about going.”
“Yes it is.”
Kara embraces Matt, tearfully. Maru walks up with Jax following behind, forcing
them apart.
“Daddy - we wanna come on the walk too!”
“Maru, it‟s too far for little Jax. You have to stay and look after him and Mummy.
Will you do that?”
“Mummy can stay and look after Jax. I wanna go with you.”
“When you‟re a little bit bigger Maru - we‟ll be able to go on lots of walks together
- I promise.”
“Being little sucks some times.”
Ahu walks up the path from the river. Rick sees he is carrying the fish-daughter
stone, which Ahu goes to put in his pack.
 “Your pack will be heavy enough without adding rocks to it.”
“This stone has to come too.”
“What about your boots?”
“They‟re tied to my pack.”
“They‟d be more use on your feet.”
“I‟ll wear them when I need too, not before.”
Ahu stows Hine-ro-pounamu securely into a pocket of his pack.
„I wont fall out, will I?‟
„You wont fall out, even if I fall over.‟
„It‟s a strange sensation, being carried.‟
„It‟s strange conversing with a shape-changing rock.‟
Millie and Tina come over to them.
“You boys ready to set off yet?”
“Just about, Ma.”
“You don‟t have to do this for my sake, you know that? I‟m getting too old to walk
the river anyway.”


                                                                                  - 33 -
                                                                      The River Walkers
                                                                   Jeffrey Addison 2009

“It‟s your right to walk the river. You‟ve earned it, and nobody is going to take it
away from you now.” Mille hugs her son.
“Thank you for taking the fight to them.” Ahu then embraces Tina.
“We‟ll be waiting to hear from you.”
“I wont be back until this is sorted out.”
 Millie addresses Ricky. “He‟s my only boy. You keep him safe.”
“I‟ll do my bit.”
He shoulders his pack. “I‟m not big on farewells so if we‟re done with the
goodbyes - let‟s shove off.”
Pack on his back, Ahu walks over to the kitchen hut.
“I want all you kids to pull your weight around here while I‟m gone. I don‟t want to
hear about your slacking around when I get back. Okay?”
“All good Paps. I‟ll make sure they help us out.”
“You‟re the biggest slacker of them all Miharo!” Ahu says, laughing. He turns to
follow Matt and Ricky, who are leaving the camp clearing.
“Mā te wā, whanau!”
The children farewell their father, then look conspiratorially at each other.


                     ________________________________________



Walking Track, by the River.
Dappled daylight, an autumnal sun at its zenith, the only sound other than the
river comes from the piwaiwaka - their fan shaped tails flitting through the beech
trees, clinging to supplejack stringing its way through the fern bushes and stands
of nikau palms as they chitter chatter back and forth to each other. Matt‟s face is
shiny with sweat, and his breathing is getting laboured. Ahu and Ricky are
ahead of him walking easily, without discomfort. Ricky notices Matt is struggling
and halts, taking off his pack.
“Stop for a breather shall we?”
“I was - just - finding - my - rhythm.”
“Is that what you call that huffing and puffing? ”
“Must be what they do at those gymnasiums eh Ricky?”
“Never seen the inside of one myself Ahu - always thought they were for Nancy-
types with too little to do.” Matt unshoulders his pack & sits down heavily on the
path.
“How far do you reckon we‟ve walked?”
“Laddie we‟ve only just left! You‟ll be asking „Are we nearly there?‟ next.”

Ahu fills his water bottle, then drinks from the river.
“Get some water in you, Matt!”
 Matt reaches for his water-bottle, drinking deeply.
„What about me?‟ Hine ro-pounamu asks Ahu.


                                                                                 - 34 -
                                                                         The River Walkers
                                                                      Jeffrey Addison 2009

„What about you?‟
„I want some water too.‟
„You‟ll have to wait till tonight. I can‟t just take you out of my pack to let you bathe
in the river whenever we stop. They‟ll think I‟m crazier than I do already.‟
„This air itches me. Can‟t you just pour some water over me then?‟
„Alright.‟
Ahu takes his water bottle over to his pack. He pours it over the stone in the
pocket. Hine-ro-pounamu sighs. Rick watches what Ahu is doing.
„Your rock thirsty too?‟
„Māori air conditioning - keeps me cool while I walk.‟
Iramaia and Miharo walk around the bend and see Matt and Rick on the path
ahead. The two children quickly back track until they are out of sight.
Rick gets out some rewena bread, wrapped in a tea-towel. He passes some to
Matt.
“Have some of Millie‟s rewena bread....look, she‟s even put the butter and jam in
for us.”

                      __________________________________



The Mouth.
Late that afternoon Millie is seated at her fishing site, with her white-bait nets set
in the river. Sitting at her feet eating rewena bread is Pikao.
“What was school like when you were a young girl, Taua?”
“It was very scarey. I went to a catholic school - the nuns were very strict...I was
frightened to even open my mouth in class, in case I made a mistake.”
“Will my school have scarey nuns in it?”
“That depends which school you go to.”
“I want to go to the one my brothers and sister go to.”
“I imagine they‟ll start back at their old school next term. There wont be any nuns
whatsoever.”
“Maybe I‟ll just stay at Kohanga reo.”
“Only until you turn five, then you‟ll have to go.”
“I could run away, like Iramaia and Miharo.”
“What do you mean? When have they ever run away?”
“This morning, after breakfast.”
“What are you talking about Pikao?”
“It‟s a secret - I‟m not supposed not to tell. What‟s a pinky promise anyway?”
“One you don‟t have to keep - now where are they?”
“Following Pāpā, Poua Ricky and Matua Matt, up the river.”
“The little rat-bags!”




                                                                                    - 35 -
                                                                   The River Walkers
                                                                Jeffrey Addison 2009



                    __________________________________________




By the River.
Matt is bathed in sweat as he walks behind Ahu and Ricky along a dirt path
running parallel to the river. Bush birds are in full evening chorus.
“It‟ll be dark soon - shall we set up camp?” Matt asks hopefully.
“Not yet.” Ricky replies.
 “How far do you reckon we‟ve travelled today?”
“Not far - Ten or so k‟s,”
“Got a bit of sweat up now, eh Matt?” Ahu teases.
“It‟s been too bloody hot to be wearing this thermal underwear.”
“You‟ll be glad you brought them, soon enough.”
“Better to be sweaty than sorry, right?”
“Better than hypothermia.”
“She‟d be a long walk carrying you out now.”
“Yeah every step takes us further and further from civilization.”
The cellphone in Matt‟s pack begins ringing.
“We‟re not bloody far enough.”
Matt hastily unshoulders his pack, retrieving the phone.
“Hello! We‟re fine, making good progress ...what?! No, we haven‟t seen them all
day... Okay, of course I will - talk to you when we‟ve stopped - bye for now.”
“So the kids are missing?” Ricky asks.
“Iramaia and Miharo. Apparently they‟re following us.”
“They have been from the outset this morning. They‟ve managed to keep out of
sight so far, but not always out of my hearing.”
“If you knew they were on our tail, why didn‟t you say so?” Ahu demands.
“I figured you‟d just send them back home again.”
“Of course I will. After I‟ve kicked their arses.”
“I reckon if they want to go this much, then we should let them come.”
“No way. It‟s one thing walking these flat tracks, and another up in the high
country. This is going to be dangerous.”
“So‟s crossing the road. They‟ve as much right to protest as you, I reckon.”
Matt heaves his pack off, and looks around. “Let‟s just wait here till they show
up, eh? This seems like a good place to make our camp for the night. These big
rocks are a perfect shelter if the wind came up.”
Rick walks up to Matt.
“Only till the rain comes down - then you‟ll find yourself washed down into the
river, before you can even wake up. This is a water-course.”
Ahu joins in. “And it rains at night - a lot.”
“Got it - bad place to camp.”
“Shhh!” Ricky‟s command makes the trio cease conversation and listen.


                                                                              - 36 -
                                                                         The River Walkers
                                                                      Jeffrey Addison 2009

They hear the approach of Iramaia and Miharo, who come walking around the
slabs of rock, halting abruptly upon encountering the three men.
“We were hoping you‟d be stopping soon.” Iramaia says.
“Yeah - kei te hiakai māua!” Miharo exclaims.
Ahu hugs both his children. Iramaia looks up at her dad.
“You wouldn‟t have let us come if we‟d asked you.”
“He pono.”
“It‟s our protest too, pāpā.”
 “Go and get some fire-wood - we need a fire going, and the camp set up before
you get any kai.”
Ricky winks at Miharo. “Looks like a full pack you got there.”
“Wet weather gear mostly, plus some cans of food - and my sleeping bag.
Iramaia‟s got the tent.”
“After you‟ve got the wood we‟ll find a place to put it up.”

              ______________________________________________




Cathedral Square restaurant,
Christchurch.
Rex Te Apo Sullivan is picking over the bones of a recently devoured
plate of grilled pork-ribs... He puts it down and burps contendedly. He frowns as
his cellphone rings - He hastily wipes his hands on the table-cloth then answers.
“Rex.... Kia ora Chang - how was the last consignment?.... Number one quality!
- that‟s right!...flawless...we only deal in the best... Yes, there‟s more stock of that
quality, if you can afford to pay for it....That could be difficult Chang. If you want
it at such short notice there will be an extra thirty percent charge...fine, when the
first half of the transaction goes through, I‟ll get it happening.”

Rex makes another call.
“Angus?...We need another two tonnes by yesterday - same buyer...he was very
impressed with the stone... I know you‟ve only just got back, but he‟s very keen
to put another order through and he‟s willing to pay an extra ten percent if you
get onto it straight away....You like the numbers that are appearing in your bank
account don‟t you?....That‟s what I like to hear...”

Rex pockets his phone with a cat-fish grin, then calls to a waitress.
“Take this away dear, and bring me the Dessert menu! And bring me a bowl of
water to wash my hands in.”




                                                                                    - 37 -
                                                                        The River Walkers
                                                                     Jeffrey Addison 2009



                     __________________________________________




Fire-side, by the river.
The daylight is fading as the five sit in an arc around the fire eating stew from
plastic plates. Behind them, Rick and Ahu both have set up one-person survival
tents - a combination of sleeping bag and tent. Matt has a small dome tent
erected, as do Iramaia and Miharo. Rick lifts a steaming billy of hot chocolate off
the fire. He pours it into tin mugs, passing them to the others.
Ahu warns “Let it cool a bit Miharo - or it‟ll burn your tongue. If I didn‟t think you
children could make it you wouldn‟t be here - but there‟ll be no favours given -
Iramaia, you wont be getting it easy - there will be no easy on this walk.”
Rick agrees “ From here onwards the grade will get steeper and steeper.”
He looks at Matt. “So if you thought today was a tough day, you wait until
tomorrow.”
“I‟m counting on everyday being tough - until we get there.”
“You wont be disappointed.”
Ahu turns and walks down to the river, carrying his mug of hot chocolate in one
hand, the fish daughter stone in the other. Matt comments.
“He‟s kind of attached to that stone now isn‟t he? ”
Rick replies “You‟ve just noticed, have you?”
Miharo stops blowing on his hot chocolate “She speaks to him.”
Iramaia says “Who does?”
“The fish stone. I can hear her talking to pāpā.”



              _____________________________________________________




In/ by the river.
Hine-ro-pounamu is in fish form, in the middle of the river. Ahu is standing on the
bank watching her, drinking his hot chocolate.
„Your son can hear us. Can‟t you Miharo?‟
The boy answers timidly in the same telepathic way.
„Yes - Pāpā can you hear me too?‟
„I can - don‟t be scared. It takes a bit of getting used to.‟


                                                                                   - 38 -
                                                                       The River Walkers
                                                                    Jeffrey Addison 2009

„I‟m not scared - it‟s just that think talking feels wack.‟

„Miharo - Leave the others and join your father, and you can come and see me
now.‟
Ahu think speaks „Maybe it‟s time to tell everybody on this walk about you. How
long do you think I could keep this a secret from them, with you needing to return
to the river all the time?‟
„Alright, I will try to talk with them also.‟

Miharo walks up to his father‟s side. He looks stares at the glowing fish
daughter of Poutini, now swimming close to the river bank in the current,
stationary. His sister is just behind him, followed by Matt and Rick. They gaze in
mute wonder.

„Tēnā koutou. Ko Hine-ro-pounamu ahau. No te iwi toka ahau. No tēnei awa. No
tēnei whenua hoki.‟


Ahu think speaks to the others. „This isn‟t just a protest walk for my family we‟re
going on. We‟re going to help Hine-ro-pounamu and her stone people.‟
Rick asks. „Help you how?‟
„Our source is being plundered by some of your kind. We need you to stop them.
Our people‟s future existence depends on our home location being kept secret.‟
„Once that cat‟s out of the bag, it‟s a mission getting it back in there.‟
„For our sake, we need to try. We will come to a fork in the river soon - I will show
you the way up to where our home is. You can defend us from the attackers.‟
Rick think talks in a way leaving no doubt of his intentions.
„Green-stone poachers. Just lead me to them.‟
„I am.‟
Ahu turns to Rick and Matt, reverting to vocalizing his thoughts.
 “You see why I couldn‟t tell you the full story.”
“You have to see it alright.”
“I‟m seeing it but still having trouble believing.”
 „I‟ll try and help you Hine-ro-pounamu.‟
„Thank you, Iramaia.‟
Ahu talks to the fish daughter.
„How come your people have sent only one of you to us?‟
„We are not separate from each other like you - I am a collective consciousness,
as much as I am an individual entity. What I see and think can also be
experienced by many others, should they want to. It is agreed that sending one
of us to interact with you is more effective than sending many.‟
„How come you know our language?‟
„We know many human languages. We have gained knowledge of your species
through interacting with it over the centuries. Being shaped and worn as
pendants has been a particularly successful way of allowing us to explore the
world.‟



                                                                                  - 39 -
                                                                    The River Walkers
                                                                 Jeffrey Addison 2009

Matt instinctively clutches the pounamu pendant around his neck. He thinks
„You can spy on us?‟
„I wouldn‟t call it spying, Matt Stevenson. You enjoy wearing that pendant, do you
not? We enjoy you wearing it too - we have our own tiny window into Matt‟s
world. Up till now our exchange has been on mutually beneficial terms, and we
have not had to impose restrictions. Until now.‟


                    ________________________________________________




On The Trail, By the river.
Next morning the group is walking along the trail. Hine-ro-pounamu is in the
pack. They come to a fork in the river, flying up the lesser-flowing river.




                                                                               - 40 -

				
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