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What It Means to be ‘Hori’

August 10, Greenlane 1995 – Grace Rihari

The day my angel decided to breathe me into life
My mum wanted Phoebe, my Dad thought otherwise
And so they settled on Grace, don’t ask me how or why

With 33 letters and 3 middle names
My Ingoa is quite the mouthful to say
I guess that for Māori that’s quite the norm
But still it’s a bitch fitting it on a form

Fast forward 3 years another baby was due
A new edition to our tribe, they named him Mathew
Chubby and bald and super cute too
My parents love manifested and grew by two

We moved to Whangarei when I was just four
My parents couldn’t afford to live in Auckland anymore
We definitely weren’t rich but we also weren’t poor
I had everything I needed, didn’t need much more

I was always a Daddys girl, he was Hercules
Taught me to ride a bike, scar reminders on my knees
I’d watch him play on the PS1 Abe’s Oddysey
I will always and forever cherish those sweet memories

My mum worked hard, an accountant by trade
I don’t remember her joining in our playstation charades
She’d drop me at school in our Mazda Protege
And every day I’d go to school with lunches, homemade

I was in bilingual class all the way through
My parents couldn’t speak it but wanted me to
My tūpuna were the ones who had the reo beaten out
So when I would attempt to kōrero, they’d both shut me down

At age seven my parents love story came to an end
It was too far gone, broken beyond mend
I remember that day, I came back from the park
My dads stuff on the trailer, moving out before dark

I was sad and confused, not sure what to think
He was leaving because he couldn’t give up the drink
If it wasn’t the beers then it was always the weed
So my mum had enough and she told him to leave

For many years my grandparents raised my brother and me
They taught us we could be whatever we wanted to be
They were forever putting up with our painted on ears
And losing them one day was always amongst my biggest fears

A fear that last year unfortunately came true
When my koro passed away suddenly out of the blue
A heart attack they said, with my nan by his side
As he took his last breath and stepped out of this life

He’s in a better place they said but I didn’t care
His absence so deafening those words were hard to hear
I’m healing and dealing with that mountain of grief
But I live on each day with one strong belief
That he’s somewhere with light and love and laughter
I have to believe that there’s something after

My thoughts now return to the man I called dad
And the beautiful life that he could have had
In and out of jail, 3 times to date
His own bad choices have sealed his fate

So I chose a new path and I changed the story
I am rewriting what it means to be hori