Sam Hunt's Salt River Songs

Salt river songs


Never the sparkling waters
or the beautiful daughters

as sparkling as they be -
it’s a muddy creek for me

twisting and turning
on Kaipara time

floating down stream.
On the next tide, returning.


The Landing built roughly
where early settlers landed –

months at sea behind them,
more months’ uncertainty.

They ended up in a land
they never had in mind.

I’ll be leaving by the Landing
on Kaipara time.


A fisherman from Pahi
got a mermaid in his net –

good as a man can get
when he falls in love at sea

on Kaipara time,
the nets well set: that,

and immaculate
timing of tides.


On Kaipara time
a patriach lay dying  -

tears for what he’d done,
the cheating and lying –

family gathered round him
he said, I know I’m dying.

There’s only one problem:
I can’t. But, God, I’m trying.


On Kaipara time
he died and the family

joined hands like the five
salt rivers of the Kaipara

each of them knowing
it would soon be for them

the tidal clocks chime
on Kaipara time.


I see you up in town,
we meet on the street:

good to see you I say,
you say it’s good to see me.

You’re moving east you tell me.
I wish you a clear sea . . .

meantime, Kaipara time,
it’s a muddy creek for me.

The Nelson Mail