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  • Mauatua Fa’ara-Reynold

Eat me and be nourished

Words by Mauatua Fa’ara-Reynolds (she/they; Tahitian (Ra'iātea, Taha'a, Huahine) and Norfolk Islander)


There’s a legend in Tahiti that is told like this:


One day, an awful famine hit our lush and bountiful Otaheite. Utari, a husband, father of two and valued member of the community, fled to the valley, where he hunted for days to find food for his feti’i (whānau). After being gone for three days and three nights, he came back to his fare (whare) late at night with a pig he caught, but his tamari’i (tamariki) and vahine (wahine) were fast asleep. Overwhelmed with arofa (aroha), he looked up to the heavens and pleaded to the atua:


 My time has come. May my body become food, and so may mine live.


When Utari’s vahine woke up the following day to a rā’au (rākau) growing in front of their fare, a voice called out saying:

Ta’u here (taku aroha), don’t be afraid, it’s me, Utari. I left you a pig; eat it. My tino (tinana) was transformed into a tree trunk, my âvae (waewae) and manimani âvae (matimati) into roots, my rima (ringa) into branches, my manimani rima (matimati) into leaves, my upo’o (upoko) into ‘uru and my toto into sap. 

Eat me and be nourished.


***


I was born on Ra’iātea, and after my birth, we went back home to Huahine. When we returned, my Mama buried my placenta underneath an ‘uru tree. I have nourished my fenua, spread my roots across the Pacific, and bore fruit for my people.


But I struggle to flourish when the soil has gone rotten. Soil contaminated with bubbling nuclear waste, soil that is not mine, soil that is stolen.


I have been

Stripped

Ripped

Shipped from rich fenua and salty moana

to sweet Caribbean water,

Sold by and to menacing white grins and

Wrapped in patriotic cloths of red, white, and blue.

One thing Utari forgot: we, the ‘uru, must be nourished. Our soil, our water, our nutrients.

I can not grow if you do not help me.

I humbly ask of you one thing: do not just CONSUME me!

Once fed, I will blossom with the loveliest ‘uru you could ever imagine.

Then, you can cook me in the ahima’a (hāngī), buried under coal and banana leaves, charred by fire.


Eat me and be nourished.

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