Laurel,looking like a breath of spring in a white muslin shirt and embroidered denim shorts, stared at her mother, a horrified expression on her face. ‘You look like you put glue all over your body and ran through St Vincent de Pauls.’

Ana knew what it was like to feel life emerge from her body, the sensation of all-encompassing love at the sight of her own newborn. A tear snaked down her cheek—the pain lay too near the surface tonight—but she brushed it aside with the back of her hand and took a deep breath.  She was tired. She needed coffee.

Robert always towered over everyone and felt gigantic, ugly and awkward. He took a deep breath through his nose and for a few moments the room echoed with the enormity of his silence. He stood up. Inside his head words rang out, pushing him forward.

Romeo had never been out of Auckland before. As they flew down the motorway—leaving first the city, and then the suburbs where the scenery melted into pastoral farmland—his nerves began to unfurl like a burgeoning koru.

Piripi settled back against the kitchen bench. ‘Yeah, she forced me with her voodoo magic.’ Robert reached out to cuff his ear but Piripi leapt out of the way. ‘Hey, man, don’t mess with my mana.’

Colin stood on his balcony holding a double whiskey. He looked out over Wellington harbour, watching dusk descend. He still couldn’t believe she’d called.

When the phone rang he’d felt every hair on the back of his neck bristle. He didn’t know how, but he’d known it was her.

Nanny T sat next to Nanny Whetu at a long trestle table, set up for Kaumatua, at the back of the newly fitted stainless steel marae kitchen.  A cup of tea and a fat slice of sponge cake layered with cream and peaches appeared in front of her.  

Mauki threw herself at Laurel, shoving her into the wall and pummelling whatever she could hit.

Margaret was impressed.  Not just with what was said, but with the man himself.  There was something about him that struck a chord in her which reverberated through her entire being.