Westside Stories – Ruby Buffet-Bray

By August 11, 2021 August 25th, 2021 2021 runner up

Westside Stories

White girl raised west side
Oratia to Kelston; postcodes define the lines between the haves and have nots
At 0612 you’ll find
Sunnyvale station; home of the world’s greatest domestics
And where my westside story begins

Grew up right side of the train tracks
Raised by woman clutching the kids with their right hand
While opening their eyes with the left

Stealing mama’s money
We bought big macs at the mall
Consumers of a capitalist agenda
Always tryna be right
Signing petitions and tiktok till midnight
We’re all witches
Casting spells of nostalgia
Blowing up our cul de sacs like firecrackers
10 year olds with back eyes
We listen to their pleas as water boils over
Scalding skin like sunburns

I saw my neighbours’ kids begging at the fruit shop
Two dollar donations don’t change society’s failure to care for future generations
I see kids drop out like flies
Struggling to get a job
Empty dinner plates pile over cracked kitchen tiles,
All the while we tell them it’s their fault
Never wondering why they fell
So this cycle continues

‘Cause at 14 they’re no longer children,
Already corrupted by this broken institution,
Birth certificates are their witness statements
2 days old when they got their first life sentence

White girl raised west side
I never felt these problems
But I see them every day
Mama fosters kids
I see how she fights for them
Oranga Tamariki forgot its meaning
Child welfare – they just store kids till they’re 18
Don’t mind the teen pregnancies and ODs
It just runs in their blood
Or maybe they’re just bred that way
Maybe it’s forced down their throats till it’s the only way left to breathe
We don’t tune out their voices,
We tear out their tongues
Tape them to walls and congratulate the work done
Like we’re artists not grave robbers for the living
I went to my first party this June
0 6 4 2, the other site of westside
Friday night heard white boy say the n word
I kept my mouth closed like I wasn’t horrified by his words,
Laughing I barked out the syllabus of my privilege

Pretending knees on necks weren’t bred from anything less

I went to my first party this June
Rich white boys listened to gangsta rap talking Bloods,
Buying weed with their mamas’ pocket money
Taking photos throwing up westside like boyy you go to MAGS
Follow your daddy’s footsteps you won’t ever go to prison
It’s easy to pretend we don’t have privilege

This is the other half of westside

Culture shock only 2 ks down the road
Mama told me not to put my address on the CV lest people judge
Things only become ghetto when you call it
Titirangi to Glen Eden
Already seeing the effects of gentrification
Thursday night parties are what westside’s built on
So don’t you dare call it ghetto
Raised by advocates and educators we like to think were the good ones

Try fight the good fight, use that privilege where it counts

But if my white saviour complex only sticks when it suits…
Can I really call myself an advocate?

So I swear these lips will never stay sealed

Keep fighting till my knuckles bleed
My baby brother Māori
And I refuse to let this coloniser curtain cut him
Break these shackles
Burn down these white-washed walls
Get into parliament and rebuild West Auckland from its ashes
This new generation, we’ll start the revolution
No longer waiting for you to get comfortable
These bombs are set to explode
Buckle your seatbelts,
This new westside story starts now



Ruby Buffet-Bray
Year 12
St Dominic’s College


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