Nan – Eden Tautali

By July 18, 2011 March 28th, 2019 2011 award winner


At the funeral
we sang beneath
high-beamed ceilings
in yellow light filtered
through a stained glass jesus.
I whispered to a bent microphone
of fish bones and sick days
of hot cocoa rice and
early morning mutterings of prayer
and of you.
But when I stood above you
eyes cast down
fixed on your cold cheek
I couldn’t bring myself to
touch you.

by Eden Tautali
St Cuthberts College, Auckland


  • […] Year 13 student Eden Tautali from St Cuthburt’s College has won the National Schools Poetry Award for 2011 with a personal account of grief. The poem addresses the death of her Nan and the experience of speaking at her funeral. Read her poem here. […]

  • Hope says:

    Thats amazing!!!! Thank you for writing a lovely poem about nana You know we all miss her…

  • Tiu of Manono says:

    This is a great poem. I love it because it adds another dimension on the grieving process for a young Pacific Is / Maori person often in very close knit families and extended families. I am no academic but this poem described what I went through in similar situations when I was young.
    Great Work,

  • Clera says:

    My grandmother and my mother are still alive, yet, your poem reduced me to tears, unable to bear the thought that, one day; I may have to experience your grief. Congratulations on such a well written, and well expressed poem.

  • Te Teko says:

    This is a beautiful piece of writing that honestly captures the conflict we feel with loss. Is the cold cheek of one who has passed, the same cheek that held and cuddled us when they were alive? If we talk and believe in wairua, then the spirit/soul of the individual has already left. To voice the “I couldn’t” will resonate with so many who feel confusion. It is not just about Maori/ Pasifika; it is about people. Kia ora mo te taonga nei kotiro.

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