Last night I dreamt of fallen chiefs. I am bound to this land; the weeping rangatira, the bleeding ngahere. I do not want to not do enough.
There is a tightening in her smile as her eyes flick over my moko. Her husband shoulders his pack.
“I’m wondering if you’re aware of the rāhui?”
A child leans against their silver RAV4. His fingertips blur on console buttons, and a wire leads to buds in his ears. I look up at the sound of kererū wingbeats overhead. Iridescent feathers catch the sun as the bird lands amongst leaves that sizzle and snap with cicadas.
The man shifts, rolls his eyes. “Look, we’ve driven a long way up here, ok? You actually can’t stop us. Only the council have the authority to close the park.”
He stands square and I know that despite the statistics, despite the science, his belief is unwavering; the bush-bash is his right. I look at his son and wonder if his children will ever see a standing kauri. I want to share the stories my tupuna whisper on the breeze.
But I know this man will not be turned back so I swallow my te reo. “Please make sure you use the disinfectant and brushes at the cleaning station.”
As they walk away, I wonder about that old proverb: what is the most important thing in the world? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.