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  • Writer's pictureSalizan Takisvilainan

To Tell You “Mihumisang”[1] —Discovering New Zealand, Find Joy in Reading the Pacific [2]

On this side of the mountain,

The postures of the Pacific are not seen,

Yet the winds it blows are felt in hands.

On this side of the mountain

The sound of pacific waves are not heard,

Yet the wavy mountain shapes are in sight.

A call of

Kia ora.”[3]

I heard

On the other side of the ocean

The call of the whale rider.

I saw

On the other side of the ocean

The Star Waka delicate carved.[4]

I will paddle



heading to

The Hill of Wool.[5]

To say


To the Fast Talking PI.[7]

Note: “Mihumisang” means “Please live well, keep breathing.” When Bunun people greet you with “Mihumisang” (You are still alive!), it is the most respectable greeting to wish that “You are still Alive! Please keep being alive.” At the time of parting, saying “Mihumisang” also means “fare well, have a nice journey, and be healthy and safe.”

When people hears about Austronesians, they would think of the oceanic culture that they obtain the knowledge of the sea, and is highly skilled for making boats. My tribe, the Bunun is known to inhibit the high mountains though living on the island of Taiwan, however we are quite distant and unfamiliar to the sea. In our language, there is no word for “ocean,” only small pond we call “ning-av.” After my people see the ocean, they still call it “ning-av.” The fishes living in the ocean, we call all of them “iskaan” because the lack of knowledge for them.

  1. [1] “Mihumisang” means “to breath well.” I was invited to participate the Taipei International Book Fair 2015, and read my poem at a poetry reading session on Feburary 13th. [2] It is a reference to the Chinese theme of the Taipei International Book Fair 2015. [3]Greeting for Maori. [4] A poetry collection by visiting New Zealand poet, Robert Sullivan, titled Star Waka. [5] A book title by visiting New Zealand Poet Jenny Bornholdt, The Hill of Wool. [6]Greeting in Bunun, an aboriginal tribal language of Taiwan. [7] A poetry collection by visiting New Zealand poet Selina Tusitala Marsh, Fast Talking PI.

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