4 tha kulture – Grace Fakahau

By August 11, 2021 August 27th, 2021 2021 runner up

4 tha kulture

As the stars twinkle in the night sky, they twinkle like us, the grandchildren in my
———grandparents’ eyes.
As the sun rises and the sky light sweeps the darkness of the night away, it rises as we do in
———my grandparents’ home.
As the pan of eggs seethe, toast jumps up from the heat of the toaster as we jump up to the
———large breakfast table and prepare for my grandfather’s prayer.
As the food is passed down the table for breakfast, we are not only eager for the arrival of
———the food, but also my grandfather’s stories.

My grandfather, who salued the sea in the 1990s, tells us about our Pacific Heritage.

He tells us about the days he climbed up the coconut trees,
———the peaceful Sunday mornings at church with young children belting hymns from
——————–their little chests,
———the warm sun that shines through the sky and pigments his skin,
———the days he spent swimming swiftly through the clear waves at the beach with our family,
———the days of hard yards, learning cultural dances and performing them to his village,
———the days of showering in the rain while the warmth of the sun beams onto him,
———the days of riding his children to school on the back of his motorbike,
———he wants us to relive those days and experience the joy in our motherland,
———island joy.
———Just as he had at our homeland.

He awaits the day we head to the home we’ve never been to.
———The day where he can give us a tour of his village.
———The village that blossoms of meniscus flowers and sparkles from the stars in the night
He awaits the day we head to the friendly islands together.

But how long does he have to wait for our island to find itself underwater?
———To find our island sunk.
———To find our people evacuated.
———To find his land gone.
How long do we have left until we find our island under?
How long do we have left to bury our elders in their homelands?
How long until it’s too late.

My Pacific islands face the effects of climate change today.
———This climate crisis causes a shortage of our supplies, when food is what brings us
———The flooding of the rain and storm surges increase as the floods of people at church on a
——————–Sunday morning decrease.

———The warm worshipping voices that steam up the warm Sunday mornings are now silent,
———as they await the storm to pass, and the sea to calm.

———The land that is our own home, now belongs to the sea.

My islands continue to sink into the sea as our government continues to sink into their caucus
The sea will rise, and my islands will sink, my ancestor’s lands will soon become extinct, unless
———our government in this developed nation declares a climate emergency.

Will my islands be another story to tell?
Will the clasping of my grandfather’s hands around my own be the only connection I have to my
Will I even be able to visit my islands, a home where my ancestors lay and my people pray?
———Pray for the water to keep from rising, to keep from the sinking of our islands.
———The water that connects our islands, will sink our islands.
Tonga, I fear losing her.

You see the gold bling from our teeth when we smile,
———we smile as we sink,
———but don’t mistake smiles of resilience as a sign that we’re okay.

This climate crisis is more than just the trees falling and sea rising.
———It is the children laughing and giggling to each other as they walk through the floods up to
——————–their waistline,
———holding bags of fruit above their heads,
———it’s the father who holds his son as he prays before the cyclone hits their village,
———It’s the food that’s given out for the cost of love,
———The churches where the village sleeps during the storm as one big family.
These actions of resilience, don’t mistake them as a sign that we’re okay.

As my ancestors above look over me, they ask why I am crying.
They ask why their islands are dying.
I try to explain this climate crisis as a whole,
but i’m focusing below, as I tulou between their headstones, sinking.
as my voice breaks to save our islands, my ancestors ache as they sink into the dirty sea in
I will fight to save them. I will fight to save the Pacific.

For my ancestors who sailed the moana, who were raided in their homes and on the streets,
hoping for a lifestyle filled with endless opportunities for me, I raise my voice.

For my islands where my family lives and ancestors are buried, sea levels rise as our land sinks in
a hurry, I raise my voice.

For my islands that you book for your ‘tropical’ holiday, but ignore the effects of us sinking
through this climate change, I raise my voice.

For my brown, Tongan, minority raised, child of immigrant parents, Salvation Army, Good Will,
holey socks and shoes self, I raise my voice.

For my ancestors, for my islands, for the hood, for my grandfather’s stories.
——————–I raise my voice, 4 tha kulture.


Grace Fakahau
Year 13
Amanaki STEM Academy and Palmerston North Girls’ High School

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