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My feeling is that there are few things on this earth as otherworldly as moonlight — the way it glides across water, the almost-warmth it emanates as rebound sunlight. Every time I see moonlight, I feel as if I’m being pulled into a warm embrace, out of the cold and stark void of night around me. To me, moonlight represents safety in the unknown.
In April of 2018, I was in Wellington with the New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir, and on one of the evenings we spent together, we decided to drive up Mt Victoria (Maitārangi). I remember getting to the top and immediately being blasted by the cold as soon as I got out of the car. Looking out, I remember seeing the lights of the city — golden sea-snakes flickering amidst a sea of black. The sea rocked gently, and atop it, a veil of moonlight lay, creased by the harbour waters.
The moon looked as if it had been placed there, fitted perfectly in the sky that no other object around it dare shine as bright. The way it shone almost felt like it was shining down only on me, laying its light-fingered rays on my exposed cheeks, and pulling me out of the cold of night. I almost felt like I was drunk — a warm, numbing euphoria beyond worldly comprehension. Never before had I felt so safe in something so foreign — never again have I recaptured that feeling.
This piece is an ode to the sleepy kisses of the moon, and her warmth during the stark silence of Te Pō-nui.
Kua hua te mārama
The moon is full
Written for Grammarphonics (Auckland Grammar School), directed by the composer
This work is suitable for high school choirs
Text by the composer
Translation into Te Reo Māori by Morgan King and the composer