Mōteatea by Iona Winter Written by Iona Winter

Tāite 16 Ākuhata

Thursday 16 August



Iona Winter


The mōteatea enclosed in my chest

aches to be released

tangi te mapu

I must draw breath


Silently I witness

people’s meaningless words 

render mine unspoken

‘I’m sorry for your loss’

What the fuck does that mean? 

I wish they would stop 


New lava etches

across my heart

joining solidified tracks

of those before you

did you know that my teardrops 

contain all of the oceans? 


The mōteatea enclosed in my chest 

aches to be released

tangi te mapu

I must draw breath 


I want to call you back

from wherever you have gone 

we’re not done yet

you didn’t give me time

but I see Papatūānuku

now greets your bones 


You are in me

our hands

all of our mothers’ hands

are kākano-womb-seed reminders 

that scratch at my belly

like a ngāngara tail 


The mōteatea enclosed in my chest 

aches to be released

tangi te mapu

I must draw breath 

Mōteatea, by Ōtepoti-based writer and poet, Iona Winter, responds to the 2018 exhibition, What should I do now, with my hands? by Melbourne-based practitioner, Beth Caird featuring work by Faith Wilson. This exhibition bought together Caird’s continuation of a focus on grief processes and life-after-death experiences, self-made myths and the truth buried under fabrications. 

Iona Winter is of Māori (Waitaha) and Celtic descent, and lives on the East Otago coast. Her short stories, poetry, and essays have appeared in many New Zealand and international publications. The recipient of the 2016 Headland Frontier Prize, she has performed at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and in 2018 was shortlisted with the Bath Novella-in-Flash Award. Passionate about Aotearoa, Iona writes in hybrid forms that highlight the intersection between written and spoken word. Through a profound connection with nature she weaves past, present and future, traditional and contemporary, to create a bicultural melding of the worlds she inhabits.

Iona Winter