mangere settler

mangere settler

i came across the headstone of Thomas Troan while wandering through the grounds of the Anglican Church of St Peters in Onehunga one early morning. Intrigued by the family name ‘Troan’, i searched for its origin on the Internet and was much astonished to find an article in the annals of the New Zealand Herald dated 23 June 1882 concerning the circumstances surrounding the death of a ‘mangere settler’, Mr. Thomas Troan. The phrases/words with quote marks are drawn directly from this article. The article itself, ‘The Late Fatal Accident to a Mangere Settler’,can found at:

Reading of Mr. Troan’s passing left me with a sense that any life gone needs a song however insubstantial, at least, to remark its passing.

This poem consists of 3 pieces. The first, as noted above is based on the newspaper account. The second is a speculation on the last thoughts of Thomas Troan and the third a meditation on the remnant fact of his headstone.

mangere settler

what seas
what rains
you saw from
the north of
to mangere
erin’s harp
broke strings in
the rigging
on that ship
you gambled
many a time
in your poor
mind wretched
with lurching
in the hold
would not
make it
your luck
felt to burst
its tight purse
on landing with
a whole land
come again to
your feet a
land you would
purchase a
breadth of
under the
that blown
hill of mangere
atip the manukau
you raised your
beasts on that
farm alone gaining
‘thereby a competence’
buying and selling
them in that market
aswill with animal

what sweetheart
did you carry
in the deeper
pocket of your
heart a picture
put between the
pages of an
untouched bible
we know not

the thread of
your life began
to run swift
in a single
under klotho’s*

night of the
election nine
o’clock the
’15th instant’
‘worse for drink’
the paper wrote
of you on a
‘spirited pony’
you tore down the
road into a winter
evening likely wet.
not seen again
till morning met
walking on the
road you’d run
into old nick** in
the spin of that
night not even
knowing how your
clothes were clumped
with mud your hat
well gone thinking
only you had been
from that horse
and kicked or
old nick had
tapped your
a harder

a ‘young man’
who came across
you there kind of
nature bought
you a glass of
brandy in the
‘Star Hotel’ which
you downed
and lay down
on the bed
offered you
by the publican
while the doctor
came felt your
chest and pronounced
you ‘dangerously hurt’.

placed on a
stranger’s buggy
another helping
soul you were
driven to the
hospital conversing
‘freely and sensible’
but were gone by
wednesday night
a hard corpse all
you left behind
some pounds
that piece of
land at the
foot of mangere

Thomas Troan
the facts known
of you fewer than
the telling of them
more sober than this
blarney a strum
on erin’s harp
buried in your
thirty third year
the age of
the Christ.

november/december 2012

*One of the ancient Greek ‘Three Fates’, she who spun life’s thread

**the Devil

last minute

This is naturally not based on any known record since it intends to show the thoughts of Thomas Troan’s last minute of life on this earth.

for a full
green minute
i made it
mother in
the field
looking out
toward the
just off the
the ‘almost
island’ *and its
church of slate
where i learned
latin and the
smells of christ
i heard a prayer
on her lips felt
a joy wide as the
sun coming out
from the cloud
on the westward
sea looked
from the
at the church
of slate saw the
ivory cast of
her bonnet

ridge rd, howick
evening, 29 june 2013

*the literal meaning of the word ‘peninsula’, ‘paeninsula’ in Latin


at least
a stone,
letters saying
‘this life was
unlike the
others for
the ages
their names
chiselled then
with grief into
the wind,
shouted once
from the tangled
rope ladders of
the blood.

onehunga – panmure
18 february, 2014

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