Tūnui | Comet
A marvellous hīkoi through Aotearoa today alongside a leading Māori poet.
my old friend
I wonder how far north
The road goes west
starting two doors up from The Dog’s Bollix
ending at sunset.
So many sunsets
Facebook and Instagram couldn’t contain them.
Tūnui | Comet is the first collection in more than a decade by one of our most important living Māori poets. Rolling easily between kōrero Māori and the canonical traditions of English-language poetry, through karakia and pōwhiri, treaty training and decolonisation wiki entries, Robert Sullivan takes readers on a marvellous poetic hīkoi.
Guided by Māui and Tāwhirimātea, Moana Jackson and Freddie Mercury, we walk from K’Rd council flats to Kaka Point, finding ourselves and our ancestors along the way.
We stand tall before we play the clock out
past the reef toward Matariki. Clouds raise
their fists as seagulls and sparrows swoon
into the rainbow. It has been a long homecoming
and he has made the pieces one.
Robert Sullivan is the author of a number of books of poetry including Star Waka (Auckland University Press, 1999), which has gone through multiple reprints, a graphic novel and a prize-winning book of Māori legends for children. He co-edited, with Albert Wendt and Reina Whaitiri, the anthologies of Polynesian poetry in English, Whetu Moana and Mauri Ola, and an anthology of Māori poetry with Whaitiri, Puna Wai Kōrero. He has taught at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and Manukau Institute of Technology.
‘Tūnui | Comet displays all the elegance, eloquence and craft one would expect from this Māori writer, who is one of the outstanding poets of his generation. This is a distinctive and rich collection about unity and location, using the compass of poetry to celebrate our archipelago of islands. Robert Sullivan has deftly fused the classicism of the European tradition with Māori animism and a new world wonder, even as he defamiliarises the ordinary.’ — David Eggleton
‘Sullivan’s work is like a great camera: an eye in the sky that shows us all of who we are, then zooms right in to the specifics of the individual within the wider Māori identity. Under this Tūnui we are both the individual and the collective; the past and the future entwined in the poet’s words. Sullivan is shapeshifter, time traveller, descendant and ancestor. We are all welcomed into the wharenui that this book has become.’ — Ruby Solly