Haere ra, Mahinarangi

I guess I need to write this down.
My friend Mahina Tocker died today.
I’ve been in denial since her asthma attack last week but it’s not working for me now.
She’s gone.
I won’t go on about her many talents and awards – there’ll be plenty of that in the next few days, I’m sure, as people get their heads around it.
That won’t be easy. It seems quite impossible, that someone so boisterous and generous and loving – and yes, crazy – could be just … gone.
There are already tributes here and here. There’ll be more.
But the first time I saw her was on stage at Dallas Brooks Hall in Melbourne. I suppose it was about 1990. That’s the night she met Irena, who has been sitting by her bedside for the last week (O, my love!).
I remember other things besides the concerts and the songs.
I remember her telling me in all (deadpan) seriousness when I moved to New Zealand not to worry if I should come across a moa, because they hated the taste of Australians.
I remember her hammering on my front door because she’d found me a weta – a very small, very dead weta to be sure, but my first.
I remember her coming to all my book launches and crying with pride, buying copies for every kid she knew. She told CK Stead all about me, she said, which is a bit like telling Lucien Freud you have a friend with a talent for watercolours.
Playing percussion with a Post Office document tube.
Farting on stage and blaming some poor guy in the front row.
Endless streams of late night emails and messages, especially around trans-Tasman sporting events.
My favourite of her published poems, My Girlfriend’s Bad Haircut.
And her singing harmony, with Charlotte Yates, as if lightness and love could change the world. And in many ways they did.
I always thought she had the voice of an angel and I have never in my whole life wished so deeply and profoundly that there might be a heaven after all.
Go gently, girl. Sing up a storm up there (though you might want to go easy on the poo jokes).
Rest. Peace.
Arohanui, Tox.
Farewell.
(I just can’t believe I’m saying that.)

[A day or so later]
More tributes at kiwifolk and here and there was even a minute’s silence in parliament. Silence being, somehow, deeply appropriate.

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