Art Culture

How to let go of anger

A poem on breaking intergenerational violence, while acknowledging how powerful and transformative anger can be.

DON’T LET YOUR ANGER TAKE HOLD
WITHDRAW FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
HOLD YOUR OWN HANDS
DON’T HIT SEND ON A REGRETTABLE EMAIL
YOU CAN RECALL AN EMAIL WITH UNDO SEND ON GMAIL
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS

I USED TO GO RUNNING UP OLD MĀORI PĀ SITES IN AUCKLAND
RUNNING USED TO HELP ME LET GO OF MY ANGER (JUST A LITTLE)
I’D RUN THROUGH DOG PARKS
THE BIG HOLES IN THE GROUND ONCE HELD FOOD
A STATUE AT THE TOP
DEDICATED TO
‘THE NOBLE MĀORI RACE’
I STOPPED GOING RUNNING

SOMETIMES WRITING AN EMAIL OR LETTER WITHOUT SENDING CAN HELP
POUR IT OUT
LET IT SIT THERE
BREATHE WITH IT
SLEEP ON IT
BUT REMEMBER
BEING ANGRY IS A VALID EMOTION
IT’S OKAY TO BE ANGRY
BUT IT’S NOT OKAY TO LEVEL THAT ANGER OUT AT SOMEBODY ELSE

EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD FEELS VOLATILE RIGHT NOW
LIKE TAWHIRIMĀTEA SLAMMING MY WINDOW OPEN AND CLOSE.
I HAVE A STRONG SENSE OF OTHER PEOPLE’S EMOTIONS ESPECIALLY THEIR HOSTILITY, SEETHING ANGER, SPITE AND PASSIVE AGGRESSION.
I FEEL IT ACUTELY WHEN OTHERS AROUND ME ARE CARRYING THESE WEIGHTS
ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY WON’T SAY WHY
A PUNCHING BAG FOR WORDS OR WORSE

MAYBE IT’S WHEN YOUR HISTORIES ARE MARKED BY VIOLENCE AND SMALL BUT SUDDEN INDIGNITIES THAT HAVE ERODED YOUR VERY BEING AND SENSE OF SELF. ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU KNOW THESE TRAVELLED INTO YOUR BODY THROUGH BLOODLINES
INHERITING ANGER THAT CAN NEVER BE

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KĀWANATANGA
AND
TINO RANGATIRATANGA
MĀORI SAW THE TREATY AS PRAGMATIC POWER SHARING AGREEMENT

BEING BORN INTO FRAUGHT ENVIRONMENTS
PEOPLE CARRYING PAIN THAT THEY MISDIRECT AT EVERYONE AROUND THEM
THAT ONE PERSON THAT CARRIES EVERYONE AND KNOTS US ALL TOGETHER
MEMORIES THAT ARE TOO PAINFUL TO RECALL
IT SEEMS POINTLESS TO RECALL THESE MEMORIES WHEN THERE IS NO ACCOUNTABILITY JUST MORE PAIN AT HAVING THEM UNABLE TO BE REDRESSED
THERE’S LOVE THERE TOO SO IT SEEMS LIKE A BETRAYAL TO ADDRESS THE PAST

THE BRITISH INVASION OF THE WAIKATO BEGAN ON THE 12 JULY, 1863
AT KOHEROA ON THE 17 JULY, 1863
TE HUIRAMA LED 150 MEN BUT WAS FORCED TO RETREAT
15 MĀORI WERE KILLED
ONLY 1 BRITISH SOLDIER SURVIVED

I REMEMBER TIMES WHERE I WOULD HIDE IN A CUPBOARD
FROM FEAR OF ANGER
BIG TOUGH GUY FRAGILE MASCULINITY
THE VIOLENCE OF SHOUTING
THE VIOLENCE OF MONEY
ALWAYS FIGHTING ABOUT MONEY
ALWAYS CARRYING THE STRESS OF MONEY AND BUDGETS

BRITAIN EXPRESSES REGRET OVER MĀORI KILLINGS
COOK’S ARRIVAL TO NEW ZEALAND
THE BRITISH COLONISER ARRIVED ON THE EAST SIDE OF THE TURANGANUI RIVER
THE LEADER OF THE NGĀTI ONEONE WAS IMMEDIATELY SHOT AND KILLED
AT LEAST EIGHT OTHER MĀORI WERE KILLED
COOK WROTE IN HIS DIARY ABOUT HIS REGRET OVER THEIR DEATHS

THE PAST IS NOT DEAD
NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS
IT LIVES AND BREATHES
A REMINDER
I’M ALWAYS AFRAID OF LETTING MY ANGER CONTROL ME
I’VE SEEN WHAT THAT DOES
IT INSTILLS FEAR INTO THE BODY LIKE A CONSTANT PINCHING OF THE SKIN
A REMINDER
I WILL NOT BE THE SAME
I WILL BE DIFFERENT
I WILL STRONGER
I WILL NOT LET MY ANGER CONTROL ME
FOR MY CHILDREN
AND
THEIR CHILDREN
THE CYCLE MUST BREAK
WE MUST HEAL

Hana Pera Aoake (Ngaati Hinerangi, Ngaati Mahuta, Tainui/Waikato, ia/they/them) is an artist and writer based on unceded Kaai Tahu and Waitaha land in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Hana recently published their first book, a bathful of Kawakawa and hot water, with Compound Press.

Photo by Hana Pera Aoake.