SETTLERS' CREEK

"How can I help you?" Even as he said the words Box thought that he sounded like he worked in a shoe shop.

"Do you mind if I come in? It's raining."

"I'd prefer if you didn't."

A shrug. "Whatever. Tipene wants to know what you're doing up here."

"It's a free country."

"I guess. Seriously though."

"Actually, I thought I might go out and see if I could spot some dolphins. Maybe do a tour of the caves. Would you recommend that one?"

A frown. "Look, don't dick with me, mate."

"I'm serious. I've always wanted to get up close to a dolphin."

The guy stared for a moment and then shook his head. "Ok, sure. Tipene said to tell you that you're welcome to come to Maaka's tangi."

"My son's name was Mark."

"Maaka, Mark. Same thing."

"No, it's not. His name was Mark. His whole life it was Mark. That's what his family called him. That's what he called himself."

"Okay. Calm down. The message still is you're invited to the tangi."

"You tell good old Steve that I said he can go fuck himself."

The man's face turned wooden. "The offer was made, eh bro."

"What'd he expect? Tipene was invited to our family's funeral. And we all know how he pissed all over that offer. Eh, bro." The last two words were a mocking piece of mimicry.

The big Maori in front of him let it go. "I can see why you're pissed off. I really can."

"Mate, I'm way beyond pissed off."

© Carl Nixon, Photography by Stephanie Nixon