Te Ataatuhi Pearl De Vere Boyed/ Kirton

Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Te Ata, Ngāti Kahungunu

1933 -



She was born in Whangaroa, Bay of Islands. Her mother was of Māori descent and her father was a French American from Virginia. She was educated at Whangaroa Primary School and Kaeo District High (now Whangaroa College). She studied Māori Studies at Waikato University and Stage 1 and 2 Māori at Victoria University. She has been a relieving teacher in Auckland and Waikato, has taught Māori Studies at Te Awamutu College, and has tutored at Waikato Technical Institute. She is a member of the Waikato anti-racism and community health coalitions and a member of Te Whakururuhau Māori Women’s Refuge. She is a Community Educator. Since 1987, she has been one of three founding Trustees for Totara Toa Resources Trust, and since 1990 has been a Founding Trustee of Community Educators Network Trust. She writes poetry and short stories.

Biographical sources

  • Correspondence from Te Ataatuhi Kirton, April 1993.
  • Piki Mai Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988.

    Fiction

  • "Letter to Mita." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 43-44. Rpt. in Te Ao Mārama: Contemporary Māori Writing. Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed. Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D. S. Long. Vol. 3: Te Puāwaitanga O Te Kōrero: The Flowering. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1993. 35-36.
  • In this letter to Mita, the young letter-writer describes the economic hardship facing many on the marae and ponders on the different values between urbanised and rural Māori, and old and young Māori.
  • "Another Photograph." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 49.
  • This short prose piece focuses on the memories reawakened in the speaker’s mind after discovering a photograph of herself aged seventeen. She remembers the expectant joy of that age which contrasts strongly with her present sadness.
  • Poetry

  • Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988.
  • This first collection of de Vere Boyed’s poetry is divided into four parts. The first part touches on the poet’s childhood years and aspects of the natural world. The second part contains a series of poems with a strong oral component dealing with cross-cultural issues, the despoliation of Papatuanuku, and social justice. The third section contains love poems and deals with the impact and pain of broken relationships, solitude and loss. Part four deals with poems of identity and domesticity.
  • "Paru And Kiekie." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 15-16.
  • A description of the process of dyeing kiekie in the Paru mud.
  • "Whangaroa." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 17.
  • When the speaker revisits her childhood home she is heartbroken at the rape of her "precious growing place," and returns sadly back to the city.
  • "For My Father." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 18.
  • This poem focuses on the link between the speaker’s father and the sun.
  • "Papa-tu-a-nuku." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 19.
  • A tribute to the nurturance and sustenance of Papatuanuku, the earth mother.
  • "Burying My Dead." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 20.
  • The speaker recalls her childhood grieving for her pet hen.
  • "Karāni Pēti." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 21.
  • The speaker senses the warming presence of her long-deceased kuia’s wairua as she plants the kumara. She remembers her childhood picture of the old woman and her sadness at her parting.
  • "The Kereru." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 23.
  • This poem speaks of the lost youth and compares them with Maui who also had to seek his identity.
  • "The Changed Land." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 24-26.
  • The speaker contrasts the world as she knew it as a four-year-old with the war-time and post-war changes; these include the pollution of the kai moana, increasing poverty and "weeping being the laughter."
  • "The Manuka." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 27.
  • A tribute to a huge manuka tree tucked away in the bush but standing strong and upright.
  • "Hey Pani." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 31.
  • The speaker, an old kuia, challenges Pani about her Pakeha boyfriend. In a lively colloquial patois, she decries the motivation of educators and Christian missionaries towards Māori.
  • "You Not My Sister." .” Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 32.
  • As in the previous poem, the speaker is an old kuia chastising her sister for her adoption of Pakeha ways, language and partnerships.
  • "Nā Wai Te Hē?" Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 34.
  • A discourse in the form of a dialogue relating the various excuses why people do not take responsibility for hunger, thirst, homelessness and unemployment in society.
  • "Equality." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 35.
  • A poem describing inequalities in life where economic survival is merely a theoretical issue for the well-paid bureaucrats employed to advise the unemployed.
  • "Bloodbath." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 36.
  • This poem is composed of one capitalised word per line; each word touches on the breakdown in society, discrimination or violence.
  • "The Crown Of Rehua." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 37.
  • This poem speaks of the destruction and loss of status inflicted on Māori and the land during the process of colonisation.
  • "Freedom Of Choice." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 38-39.
  • The speaker, a parental figure, tells a sad tale of a young Māori boy full of potential who enigmatically decides to drop out of school.
  • "The Infirmary." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 42.
  • The poet graphically depicts the long queue of beneficiaries waiting for their benefits - tired, impoverished and without vision - a state transcending racial differences.
  • "For Beatrice." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 45.
  • An old woman at a tangi grieves for her daughter lying beside her and remembers "a girl/growing and grown/now gone."
  • "My Counsellor." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 50.
  • Using the language of card players, the speaker tells of her counsellor’s advice to "remove [herself] / from the lavatory-life [she] won / in a crooked game of poker", for the sake of her sanity.
  • "Solitude." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 51.
  • The speaker, a victim of the vicissitudes of life, welcomes solitude and acknowledges her need to learn to live in such a state.
  • "Easter’s End." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 52.
  • A short reflection on the coming of winter.
  • "Crumbs." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 53.
  • A statement touching on the painful ironies in relationships.
  • "The Other Woman." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 54.
  • The speaker knows what her lover wants to hear and can spout it forth to obtain what she needs while maintaining her own self-preservation.
  • "Reality." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 55.
  • A statement reflecting the loss of love and the destruction of dreams that is inherent in the speaker’s reality.
  • "The Covetous Dream." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 56.
  • An assertion of a desire to take charge and make choices.
  • "Relationships." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 57.
  • A poem highlighting the destructiveness of some relationships.
  • "Mary’s Voice." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 58.
  • A short Christmas greeting with a sardonic edge.
  • "Comment Two." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 59.
  • The speaker talks of being a statistic in her partner’s "behavioural modification programme."
  • "Hamilton." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 60.
  • The speaker articulates the pain and sleeplessness surrounding her loss and her "need to laugh again."
  • "Fragment." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 61.
  • The words of a passed-over lover who for a brief moment recaptures the heights of passion.
  • "Comment One." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 62.
  • The speaker ponders the uncertainties of her relationship with a counselling student.
  • "Plain John B." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 63.
  • A poem about different perceptions of identity with some based in delusion.
  • "Death of the Sun." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 64.
  • The speaker articulates the wrenching effects of grief.
  • "Mirror Me." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 67.
  • A poem exploring the loss of identity.
  • "Without Fear." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 69.
  • The speaker dreams of a "shared equality, / without fear of our differences."
  • "Back To Front." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 70.
  • The speaker notes that where once there were clear distinctions between different ethnic groups, "now there are so many greys", and the speaker bewails the complexity of coping with her own various faces. She concludes by asking Papatuanuku to "let [her] start again with eyes that see / and just one face."
  • "Papa’s Cry." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 71.
  • Papatuanuku, the speaker berates the greed of developers.
  • "E Hine..." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 72.
  • A discourse on the complexities of identity facing those of both Māori and Pakeha descent.
  • "Aroha." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 73.
  • A lyric poem in which the speaker recalls a significant encounter with another who unexpectedly transpires to be like "the other half / of [the speaker’s] own soul."
  • "Stay And Delay." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 74.
  • This poem speaks of the fragility of life plummeting between "the highs/and lows/or our wantings."
  • "Man And Brother." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 75.
  • A tribute and farewell to the speaker’s deceased brother.
  • "ā Te Wā." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 76.
  • Amidst the pains of Māoridom emerges a messianic figure "the Pou - / tall and straight" who "in the fullness / of his moko / he will again whaikōrero / to build anew / the message of the land."
  • "Judgements." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 77.
  • A tongue-in-cheek discourse on judgements.
  • "The Photograph." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 78.
  • The speaker pays tribute to an "unnamed and unknown" woman in a photograph who despite the simplicity of her dress and seeming poverty, displays an elegance which "is the pride / of all her ancestors."
  • "Time Scale." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 79.
  • Different perceptions of time, reality and dreams of the young, middle-aged and elderly.
  • "Tangi." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 80.
  • The speaker explores a perspective of grief which lays emphasis on "losses / [being] the eyes / through which we / meet / ourselves / and therein / lies / the grieving."
  • "Koha." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 81.
  • The speaker invites her "greenformed Mana" to "lie close upon [her] tears / and heal / the aching night."
  • "Moonrise in January." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 82.
  • The Moon, likened to a woman, is watched by the speaker "spilling / her whole body / over the hill / in a rush" and then suddenly "she had shot away / to hang suspended / four inches / above the hill’s horizon."
  • "Fresh Bread And Leisure." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 83.
  • The speaker, a mother, savours a small domestic moment with her adult son and his girlfriend.
  • "Living." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 84.
  • This poem contrasts the strong nurturing images of river, mountain and ocean with humanity’s fragile hold on the "narrow line / of mercurial / elusive normality."
  • "On The Fence." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 85.
  • A brief discourse on the process of writing poetry and the speaker’s recognition of the stultifying voice of ego which crowds out "the real words / in [her] life."
  • "Jacob." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 86.
  • In her moments of loneliness "in the early cold of morning", the speaker is comforted by thoughts of her young grandson and the song "that he once sang."
  • "Ko Taranaki." Piki Mai, Kake Mai. Tauranga, N.Z.: Moana, 1988. 22.
  • "Still Clearing the Land." ibid. 33 . Rpt in Te Ao Mārama: Contemporary Māori Writing. Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed. Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D. S. Long. Vol. 3: Te Puāwaitanga O Te Kōrero: The Flowering. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1993. 33.
  • In this confrontational poem, the speaker addresses and challenges the unsatiated greed of the "White Man" in appropriating and clearing more and more land. This pillage of the land is likened to the abuse of Māori women who have been used and discarded until there is nothing left to take. The poem, however, ends with a triumphant statement on the indestructibility of the Māori: "You clear the land on top; you bury us; / but soon, your rape destroy the skin of Papatuānuku - / and underneath, her belly full of Māori, eh! / What then, White Man?"
  • "Pita and the Old Man." ibid. 40-41. Rpt. in Te Ao Mārama: Contemporary Māori Writing. Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed. Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D. S. Long. Vol. 3: Te Puāwaitanga O Te Kōrero: The Flowering. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1993. 34-35.
  • The speaker tells the story of Pita who has come to the end of his tether and is tired of fighting to exist. Bereft and weary, Pita decides he will be "better off up there with the Old Man" and heads for the mountain. Three weeks later he is found dead "wedged between the branches" of a totara tree. This is a poignant statement of the lost generations of Māoridom who have lost hope.
  • "The Pākehā Half." ibid. 68. Rpt. in Te Ao Mārama: Contemporary Māori Writing. Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed. Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D. S. Long. Vol. 3: Te Puāwaitanga O Te Kōrero: The Flowering. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1993. 35.
  • The speaker is of Māori and Pakeha descent; she asserts her right to be recognised as the offspring of two heritages and rails against anyone who would attempt to strip her of either part. The cultural and spiritual dimensions of both lines of whakapapa nurture her and form her identity.