My New New Zealand — Episode Seven, Res Publica, Live on Radio NZ

Res Publica, read by Stuart Devenie, on Radio New Zealand

Res Publica, read by Stuart Devenie, on Radio New Zealand Nine-to-Noon

Listen now.

You can read notes on the previous episode here.

In this Episode Seven, we return to the helicopter, caught in a storm over the ocean, with its two passengers — our narrator, Arcady, and the helicopter’s pilot, Megan. They’re searching desperately for somewhere to land, but the tiny island Arcardy discovered is nowhere to be found.

Again Arcady muses about adventurers, about finding some undiscovered land. What makes people think that being first to stand somewhere — an island, a country, a continent — makes it your own? And what constitutes discovery? Must you stand on the ground with you’re bare feet or must you be wearing expensive shoes? What if you’re wearing extremely thick boots — like the Apollo astronauts — does it count as having actually set foot on a new land?

A sudden jolt, a final thud. The helicopter touches down. Arcady looks around. He sees the same rocks where his boat had landed three nights before; he sees the footprints of the albatross in the sand and realizes they must have landed on the same tiny island. He calls it his “New New Zealand” and celebrates by claiming it as his own.

Back in his Takapuna bach, as he’s writing these verses in the present time, Arcady suddenly hears the knocking sound again. He thinks it’s the ghost at first, but this time he hears a voice as well. He rushes to the door. The episode ends with Arcady welcoming a woman into his writing chamber and kissing away her tears.

The story continues tomorrow with Episode Eight, broadcast at 10:45am, Radio NZ “Nine-to-Noon”.

A note about the verse structure:

Twelve-line tetrameter stanzas, with a mostly iambic cadence (although the rhythm is varied), and a rhyme scheme of abbaccddeeff. Some lines, of course, were cut or altered to fit the audio segments.

An example of a stanza from Episode Seven:

My land! My promised land! A Zion
of designs my own! A place
of dignified and leisured grace,
a soil for me to live and die on!
A rock I found amidst a sea
of wandering dreams – or it found me —
a Hermitage to live withdrawn;
my private summer Yiheyuan.
A solid place in pitching life.
A refuge from one’s bitching wife!
An ocean gem, a rich and free-land;
my country home, my
New New Zealand!

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