Hawke's Bay Today

Part-time po­ets share cleans­ing words

- Gian­ina Sch­wa­necke Arts · Literature · Poetry · Hawke's Bay · Napier · Waipukurau · Porangahau

Who knew clean­ing could be so poetic?

Three Hawke’s Bay lo­cals have shared their ex­pe­ri­ences clean­ing in the re­cently launched Some­where, a Cleaner—Their voice sin po­etry and prose book.

Napier Live Po­ets MC Jeremy Roberts has been writ­ing po­ems for 40 years, but he was also once a cleaner — at uni and af­ter com­ing home from his OE.

Though he had unique ex­pe­ri­ences, he said he’d never thought about shar­ing them un­til he heard about the book.

“It was some­thing I car­ried with me for years.”

His poem re­vis­its some of the less pleas­ant parts of the job, such as lab an­i­mals, ca­dav­ers and in­sti­tu­tional racism — like when Roberts was of­fered a man­age­ment po­si­tion over more ex­pe­ri­enced staff.

“I had to ad­mit my­self that when con­fronted with racism I failed in my duty.

“The ques­tion is would this hap­pen to­day?”

He was in­spired by the book and said it was timely with Covid19.

“Clean­ing be­came sud­denly on every­body’s mind. They’re es­sen­tial work­ers. The ap­pre­ci­a­tion was fi­nally given.”

He hoped it would help peo­ple de­velop an in­ter­est or maybe af­firm a love of po­etry.

“It’s so wonderful the way so many first-time writ­ers have got­ten their work pub­lished.”

Po­etry writ­ing was en­tirely new to Melissa Puna of Waipuku­rau, who wrote about her ex­pe­ri­ences clean­ing at CHB Health Cen­tre for the past six months.

“One of the nurses at work en­cour­aged me to give it a go.

“We worked to­gether and came up with Wake UpCall.

“She got me think­ing about the things I ob­serve as I work but it was also im­por­tant to in­clude things I do away from work — my wha¯nau, sport.”

Puna still works part-time as a cleaner at CHB Health Cen­tre but re­cently started a new part-time job there as an oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist.

She said she hoped peo­ple would gain an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for what clean­ers do and how they con­trib­ute to the work­place, as well as the fact they “have lives away from work”.

She felt peo­ple had gained a bet­ter ap­pre­ci­a­tion for what clean­ers did fol­low­ing Covid-19.

Chair­man of the Te Poho o Kahun­gunu marae in

Po­ran­ga­hau, An­thony TipeneMatu­a, wrote about the cleans­ing of his an­ces­tral home.

He shares a long af­fil­i­a­tion with the site, his great-great­grand­fa­ther hav­ing opened the whare in 1875.

“We were brought up on the

marae. It’s like our sec­ond home.”

A school teacher who has com­posed many songs be­fore, he said his daugh­ter Te Ron­go­mai

TipeneMatu­a — who is a key mem­ber of the Land­ing Press team which pub­lished the book — en­cour­aged him to write a piece for the collection.

“I think they wanted a va­ri­ety of takes on what cleans­ing could be. For me it’s that holis­tic process of clear­ing the path in front of you and mak­ing a new start.”

It came at a time when the marae was un­der­go­ing a lot of work, and he said “it was meant to be”.

He said Ma¯ori, par­tic­u­larly marae speak­ers, were nat­u­ral

po­ets and en­cour­aged te reo Ma¯ori speak­ers and peo­ple on marae to “give po­etry a go”.

“They’ve got the nat­u­ral af­fil­i­a­tion with the land.

“I think it’s some­thing we can of­fer to the next gen­er­a­tion.

“It’s re­ally im­por­tant when you get older that you con­nect with where you are from and your tu­ran­gawai­wai.”

Some­where a Cleaner—Their voice sin po­etry and prose is avail­able in book­shops and on­line through the web­sites of Land­ing Press and Na­tion­wide Book Distrib­u­tors.

 ?? PHOTO / TROY MAL­COLM ?? An­thony Tipene-Matua de­scribes his an­ces­tral home at the Po­ran­ga­hau marae in his poem, Stained Rafters at the launch of Some­where, a Cleaner — Their voices in po­etry and prose.
PHOTO / TROY MAL­COLM An­thony Tipene-Matua de­scribes his an­ces­tral home at the Po­ran­ga­hau marae in his poem, Stained Rafters at the launch of Some­where, a Cleaner — Their voices in po­etry and prose.
 ?? PHOTO / WAR­REN BUCKLAND ?? Melissa Puna’s poem Wake Up Call shares in­sights into her time clean­ing at the CHB Health Cen­tre.
PHOTO / WAR­REN BUCKLAND Melissa Puna’s poem Wake Up Call shares in­sights into her time clean­ing at the CHB Health Cen­tre.
 ?? PHOTO / WAR­REN BUCKLAND ?? Napier poet Jeremy Roberts writes about his ex­pe­ri­ences clean­ing at a uni­ver­sity in the 1980s, in Clean­ing Ca­reer, 1983.
PHOTO / WAR­REN BUCKLAND Napier poet Jeremy Roberts writes about his ex­pe­ri­ences clean­ing at a uni­ver­sity in the 1980s, in Clean­ing Ca­reer, 1983.

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