Sunday, 2 November 2014

Iconic Flag, Iconic N.Z.

This Post is special because I introduce my daughter Gail Ingram who is a poet from Christchurch.
Gail writes poetry and short stories, which have appeared in Takahe, Fineline, NZ Poetry, Penuline Press, Cordite Poetry Review and Flash Frontier among others. She has been placed in various competitions including the 2014 NZPS National Poetry competition, 2013 Takahe Short Story and BNZ Literary Award Flash Fiction competitions. Her favourite themes are conservation, science and family.

So now Mythanthrope is a family affair!

What Colour should the NZ Flag Be?

Our current flag has the Southern Cross on a blue background. 

The sports’ teams use the Silver Fern on a black background.

Whatever colour is used the motif remains one that celebrates pride in our environment, the night sky in the first, a beautiful native plant in the second.

My first poem asks you to consider the golden colours of the high country and what has happened (is happening) to this iconic land under successive governments who turn a blind eye to slow environmental degradation in the name of  ‘development’. Perhaps we should have a milky-coloured flag?

The herb fields and lumpy brown hills of the South Island high country.

Recipe of a unitary state

Take those brown hills, lumpy
with glacial form, strewn with
ancient herb and kettle lake. Add merino
for a living, some rabbit
& stoats for sport.
Let stoat prey and rabbit
Introduce Collesi, a beneficial
virus – sure to choke off
the excessive taste of rabbit.
By now the herbs will have reduced
to Hieracium and Dust. Pour in a cow
or two along with most of
the braided river. It will
revigorise the capital
gain. Don’t mind the extra
nutrients in the run-off – what you lose
in black stilt, you’ll gain
in the creaming.

You’ll know it’s done
when it has a smooth grassy consistency
and no more hints of all that vexing
Stoats prey on native bird eggs

Rabbit killed by RCD (rabbit calisivirus), a slow and inhumane death, introduced illegally by high-country farmers in 1996 to reduce rampant numbers of rabbits destroying pasture

Once common throughout New Zealand, the native black stilt, or kakī, is now restricted to the braided rivers and wetlands of the Mackenzie Basin. One of the main threats to the kakī is habitat loss and modification, such as hydroelectric and agricultural development and weed invasion.

No more vexing wilderness


My second poem is told in the voice of a narrator  I will let you guess his profession as you read. It is also a Ghazal poem for those of you who are into poetic form, and it uses a refrain, which I have used as a hammer blow to drive the chilling message of the narrator home.
Let me say here, our native flora and fauna are not the only ones getting a hard time at the moment in 2014.
The Beehive, in faith we trust?

The demise in my field

When I was young, colleagues I admired were faces to trust.
They sit, now, across consents of lawyers, in faith they trust.

Or they’re apologists, intent on confusing the discipline
through subtle omission, draw conclusion on no basis we trust.

Big Industry funds our research, or the Crown Institute,
their ear bent by lobbyists – oh, we’re made to trust.

Told not to be advocates – why, in our field, is that
a dirty word, do you know what’s really unsafe to trust?

Our streams, full of Campylobacter, Giardiasis –
world’s highest frequency. No water-race to trust?

Another record while I’m here? World’s highest percentage
of threatened species – there’s more, hard to face my trust?

Our PM says, take my results with a pinch of salt,
Pure N Zed’s only for marketing. In his name we trust.

And me? I’m a scientist in an environment crisis
scathed but unsilenced. Now in you, I place my trust.

After Mike Joy, 2014 Fleming Lecture
Giant irrigation rotary scheme near Twizel. The waste from cows runs off into the rivers and ground water. Photograph by David Wall.
Mike Joy, environmental scientist and lecturer at Massey University, gives me joy! One of the main messages he had for me is that of hope. He told me that in our current climate of spin and fear, I’m not the only one who cares about, or is indeed defined by our clear skies and our tussock country, our bush and our wild rushing streams.

The Devil’s Punchbowl, Arthurs Pass

The Devil’s Punchbowl


Nylon drip of rain and rustle
the heaving breathing silent climb,
my jacket outlines me. Through
the trees ahead, a faraway sound,
my teenage son is calling.

The gleeful devil-cloud
crashes beyond the viewing platform,
films us in dew, we discover
the voices of poets on the way down
engraved on the runners of steps
soft dark lines you can hardly read
       love… bone…. Rain

                       So what colour should we wave at the next games?

The colour the flag should be

white black red   matai beech rata  

mossy lichen, fungi-spotted, fern-feathered
kea kaka kakariki
green-sheen green

stones in the river
                pounamu green

pattering smattering


leaf-shining  bush




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