The Birth of the Cabbage Tree Wars
His hatred of cordyline australis was spawned in his ancestry. When the council planted them along the coastal path he couldn’t sleep, so strong was his loathing for their sturdy trunks, clumped leaves and the fecundity of bunched flowers. It was no use writing to complain, he was a man of action. From Mitre 10 he bought a power drill, a pump sprayer, glyphosate herbicide, gloves, a facemask and a high-vis vest.
An easterly blew fish smells off the estuary as he drilled on a downward-sloping angle into each striated trunk. The authority of high-vis did the trick. No one questioned him. Retracing his steps he donned the gloves and mask and spurted poison into each hole. Excess liquid dribbled down the trunks.
Over weeks he beheld the browning and withering of ropy leaves. When council workers examined the ravaged plants and news of the sabotage became a subject of discussion, he was emboldened to discover acquaintances who shared in his loathing. The cabbage tree’s ability to withstand fire and axe, and the inconvenience of leaves entangling mower blades were their main pretext. If you listened closely you heard a different rationale: how gentle willow and compliant ash were preferred over the strong-willed creatures of this ancient land.
As he drove homeward, the coastal path teemed with women in high-vis. They wielded spades and recited karakia as they dug in three plants for every one that he’d destroyed.
His hatred of women was spawned in his ancestry. He couldn’t sleep.
Heather McQuillan was part of WORD Christchurch Festival 2018. Take a look!
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