Short Story: Matariki by Anton Blank
He was born on the first day of June and his name was Matariki.
At first the seven stars on his forehead were barely visible but as Matariki grew into a toddler their form became more clearly defined. Sometimes the stars twinkled and sparkled as Matariki laughed hysterically, his mouth wide open, and his curly lips peeled back to show his straight white teeth.
At other times the stars were opaque and dark, morphing from black to purple, purple to orange, orange to yellow – like the kaleidoscopic sunset on a planet in another galaxy filled with tall, graceful creatures. On those occasions Matariki reached out for his parents and as they rocked their magical son, Matariki nestled his head into their necks and stroked their cheeks with his small soft hands.
During winter months Matariki pressed his nose against the windows that looked onto the garden. When the snow came he ran about the yard singing ethereal songs in mystical languages, and the house and garden would be bathed in soft ochre light.
In spring the garden burst with kowhai and hundreds of tui came to sip on the nectar from the trees, which weighed heavy with their yellow bell-shaped flowers. Every year the townspeople came to watch the tui feed and hear them sing, but most of all they wanted to touch the boy with the stars on his forehead. Soon, television crews from around the world came to film the garden filled with flowers and birds and interview the mythical toddler and his parents.
The stories started slowly at first, a couple of elderly folk who had been to the garden said their arthritis had been cured. Other people said that ever since they had touched Matariki their spring gardens had been unnaturally prolific. Families said that they had had not one argument since they’d watched news of Matariki on television. Soon sickness and unhappiness disappeared and Aotearoa became known as a land of miracles and harmony.
Matariki and his parents were international celebrities, and the New Zealand government declared 1 June a national holiday.
When Matariki was seven he returned to the sky. His father woke in the middle of the night with a start, knowing the moment he had anticipated ever since Matariki was born had come. Tawhirimatea rumbled in the heavens and Matariki’s father smiled – because he knew he had helped bring love into the world and Matariki would be remembered forever.
Anton Whaimata Blank (Ngati Porou/Ngati Kahungunu) is a writer and communications consultant who lives in Auckland. He has a keen interest in contemporary Maori issues which he explores through his work and writing. Anton writes essays and short fiction and has been published by Huia publishers, Tandem Press and Victoria University. Anton is editor of Ora Nui, a new literary journal showcasing Maori work. Some works from Ora Nui were featured here for the National Poetry Day celebration.