The poet Karlo Mila has described PM Jacinda Ardern's visit to Ihumātao . In knee-high gumboots, in a red raincoat, "fire-truck red, lipstick red, Labour party red … billowing in the whipping wind", and flanked by the Māori women who share the burden and the opportunities of government: Nanaia Mahuta, Kiritapu Allen, Willow-Jean Prime, Louisa Wall.
A real arrival, all of them in knee-high gumboots and a red cape, and with Marama Davidson already there, "in her reggae beanie, laughing, saying, what took you fellas so long", and Carmel Sepuloni and the other Pasifika women with Ardern too: Jenny Salesa "with a red flower behind her ear", 'Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki, Poto Williams.
Do read the poem. It's magnificent. Stop-you, turn-you-round, make-you-weep-and-make-you-wonder, make-you-shout-to-the-high-roaring-sky magnificent. It's called Moemoea and it's on the internet.
Karlo Mila, who is a Tongan New Zealander, calls it her dream. A great flowering of goodwill and commitment and love, wrapped in a solemn, thrilling occasion. Open arms and open hearts. These are my words, not hers. She put it better.
A dream, because what else can she call it? It hasn't happened. It could happen, but it hasn't . Why not?
Ardern repeated this week that there's a process underway, a Māori process, and it would be wrong to step in front of that. A visit by her would "detract from that work", she said. King Tūheitia is involved and she's good with that. "That's the place where a solution will be found," she said.
Others say there's a problem with setting precedents, the protesters are intractable, the iwi leaders are intractable, property rights are property rights, the precious parts of the land are not really at risk, it's wet and cold and too far away and, besides, nobody cares.
Is there really any difference, in practice, among any of those positions?
It's true there's a process underway, Māori among Māori, and that's as it should be. It's true that's the vehicle to provide a widely acceptable solution. But is anybody involved in the negotiations, however they're playing out, saying the PM should not go to Ihumātao?
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Even King Tūheitia went: that was an extraordinary gesture. How did the PM miss the message? Kīngitanga were telling her this dispute has far deeper significance than she has realised. And that it's good to visit, because it affirms your commitment and your leadership.
Wasn't that Kīngitanga visit an invitation to the PM to do the same?
"It's not about me," said Ardern. In a world full of politicians jockeying to get themselves in front of the camera, that sounded like wisdom and humility. Actually, though, prime minister, it is about you.
Turning up is what you're supposed to do. You knew that in March in Christchurch, with a wisdom and compassion that inspired us all.
So why not think of Ihumātao as a disaster? It wasn't an earthquake or a flood, it wasn't a mine explosion or any of those moments when prime ministers have had no difficulty at all understanding what is required.
But it is a disaster. A cultural crisis. So you go there. It's what you do. The PM visits because the PM always visits.
Do you worry you're being asked to personally fix it all up? That's not it. Prime ministers don't go to disaster sites to run the rescue operation down the mine or dig the mud from the flooded houses. They don't go to sign the cheques right there and then. You visit to show you care.
When you don't visit, you decline the chance to show that – and in the end is that any different from not caring, or at least not caring enough?
This was a bad week for Ardern. She went to Tūrangawaewae and came away with nothing, and that looked like a backward step. Protesters marched on her Auckland office with 26,000 signatures on a petition, and she treated it as an empty gesture. That was definitely a backward step. That's a 17km journey those people made, some of it in driving rain.
I've suggested before that Ihumātao is Ardern's moment. It's come to her, and perhaps she wasn't expecting it. But not many people get to choose their moment. You take it when it comes.
It's a complex dispute. But it's also very simple. Confiscated land was not given back. The law declared that impossible in the 19th century and compounded the impossibility in the 20th and 21st. The law has not resolved the injustice but reinforced it.
And the undoing is readily to hand: restore the land, find the right place to build the papakāinga, or communal village. Stand with the iwi so it prospers.
Why isn't this happening? It's a tin ear, the curse of government, all the complexity and procedure and pompous buffoonery of Parliament, all the righteous belief that they know better, drowning out the sounds of what really matters. A tin ear, deaf to our own history.
Karlo Mila's poem talks about "Joe Blogs from the heart of Remuera", who gave a little, toured the site, did some reading and "finally understood that the people of Ihumātao had given enough to make Auckland great" and it was "time to give a little back". But the PM and her Government have not heard that.
A tin ear in Wellington, about Auckland, despite so many of them being from here.
A tin ear about Māori and about land rights, despite their having the largest Māori caucus ever. Ihumātao is far larger and runs far deeper than you might think. Karlo Mila says if you listen carefully you can hear the ancestors, Te Whiti, Tōhu, Te Kooti, Rua, Rewi, Tāwhaio, Eva, Whina, Ngāneko, and they're singing.
A tin ear, because the Government has not heard their waiata.
A tin ear, for not remembering that sometimes there's a simple way to look at things and it's the right way.