After looking at the Marae I meandered through the crypts and wondered why the bodies had been entombed above ground. Spirits of Maori accompanied me and I discovered every tomb contained a soldier. The emotions emanating from the spirits filled my lungs with syrup, but the peaceful feeling remained.
I looked up and noticed a Maori teenage boy taking photos.
“I didn’t realise they were all soldiers.”
“Yes. They were brought home to look across the lake.” Gesturing with his camera, “That’s my koro (grandfather) down there.”
A chill runs up my back and I need to swallow. I can hear the emotion in his voice, and if I speak I know I will say something mundane. We stand side by side, surrounded by silence and the dead. I don’t know how to tell him his ancestors are standing with him. He takes another photo. He asks about my holiday and if I’ve visited the geysers. I hadn’t. He smiles and I smile back. The ghosts smile as well.
He’s a local and has visited many times and yet he still takes photos. This overwhelms me. I’m in his energy so I know he takes photos to honour his koro. He never wants to forget. I was taking photos to remember. I felt like a tourist.
Te Papaiouru Marae
St Faith’s Church
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