My Māui

by Sir Bob Harvey


At Karekare old lifesavers remember that in the line and belt rescue days a lone Māui dolphin would be
around watching … this is a Māui’s Song.

I watch them with a weeping eye
………………………………………….. Trusting

Rescue me rescue me
…………………………….Forgiving

They come with nets…
………………………………Always

They say with love…
…………………………..Killing

I watch them walking
…………………………….standing

Sometimes swimming
……………………………..with young

Limbs stretching breathing

………………………………….like us

A boy on a Dolphin
………………………….Saved

A story retold remade
……………………………..a lie

the vast Ocean
……………………of grief

Some live some die
………………………….Saved by line

Some calling slowly sink to me
………………………………………….Eye to eye embrace

A thousand years
………………………..of mourning and loss

The blue world turns to blood
…………………………………………The Sun sinks

The Green Flash
……………………..dances one last time

gone gone gone
…………………….I watch them


‘Dolphin Twirl’

The Stormy Endless Sea

Marine, Karekare, New Zealand. Writer, Sir Bob Harvey. Artist, Ted Scott.

Ki nga tini mate kua atu ki tua o te arai, ka mihia.
Ka nui te aroha ki a koutou kua wehe atu nei i a mātou
No reira e nga mate, haere, haere, haere atu ra.

(The many dead who have passed beyond this world are remembered and greeted.
Great is our love for you who have been taken from us. Therefore I bid you farewell …
to the dead farewell farewell.)


I have been on this wild stormy west coast for nearly 70 years and I have been a life guard at Karekare for 65 of those years. This is my final season as an active life guard but I will continue to support the patrol and the new generations that have come forward. It is probably one of the most beautiful beaches in the world but it is also dangerous and can be deadly. The tidal rips are always sweeping the beach and each year we are faced with many heroic and often very dangerous rescues of swimmers.

The Surf club of which I am a life member has been built on Māori gift land and I acknowledge the iwi with deep respect. We have recently carved a large three metre Pou Whenua (marker of ownership) to acknowledge their past and their Pā site which stands behind the club on the high cliffs which dominate the northern ridge line.

As a swimmer and surfer I have often swum with dolphins, cutting in and diving under and around us. It’s an exhilarating experience, one of life’s great gifts to swim with dolphins beyond the breakers. My experiences with these encounters have been extraordinary and life changing. Twice I have seen a Māui dolphin swimming alone, seemingly aware of what is happening on the beach and observing the life-saving work we do. I know that these are tragically being ensnared in nets and their numbers are diminishing every year. I felt there was a message in my piece as someone who has rescued many people to give the Māui and Hector’s dolphin a voice to beg to be rescued also and to acknowledge their existence, and I saw my work addressing a lone dolphin, the last of the species at my favourite beach.

THE PLEDGE

I will continue my life-long support of those who patrol and those who care for one of the most beautiful and dangerous beaches in the world.

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