The Lucky Ones

from by Rosy Tin Teacaddy

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At 10.21 p.m. on Christmas Eve 1953 the Wellington–Auckland night express plunged into the flooded Whangaehu River at Tangiwai, 10 km west of Waiōuru in the central North Island. Of the 285 passengers and crew on board, 151 died in New Zealand’s worst railway accident.

The place name Tangiwai means ‘weeping waters’ in Māori. The timing of the accident added to the sense of tragedy. Most of those on the train were heading home for Christmas, armed with presents for friends and family. Those waiting to meet their loved ones at the various stations up the line had no sense of the tragedy unfolding on the Volcanic Plateau. Over the following days, searchers found many battered, mud-soaked presents, toys and teddy bears on the banks of the Whangaehu River.


I am travelling
40 miles an hour, slow down, slow down
Brakes are failing me
200 yards out, river brown, river brown
I'm bearing gifts for you
Ribbons red mistle-toe, mistle-toe

We are the lucky ones

A moment of weightlessness
800 tonne of steel fall down, fall down
Your heart is in your mouth
luggage lost, leather seats, hold on, hold on
Broke at the coupling
On your cheek Indigo, indigo

I am the man with the torch light
I am the woman in mud and pearls
I am the priest reading last rites
I am a girl in the snow globe world


from In Kindness or Injury, released September 18, 2015



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