The words are in (beginner) Portuguese:
Eu gosto de falar
no meus ancestrais
de as ilhas Atlânticas
Madeiras e Açores
It’s dedicated to my great-great-grandfather Manuel Bernard.
Portugal is the westernmost country in Europe, with its back to it geographically and culturally. It was the edge of the known world for Europeans until the Age of Discovery. The Azores islands are even further west.
As a teenager Manuel Bernard stowed away on a passing American whaling ship.
From a remote island in the Atlantic ocean, he ended up on an equally remote island in the Pacific – on the opposite side of the world, in Wellington, New Zealand.
He married Ann Rayner, a daughter of English immigrants. The family lived as farmers in the Wellington and Wairarapa regions, where I live now.
As a pakeha New Zealander, I’m a product of one-way journeys undertaken by 19th century European settlers. Perhaps like them I’ll be in Aotearoa for the rest of my life? But it’s a good place to be…
Another great-great-grandfather, this one from Scotland, has also inspired a current musical project:
“But, alas! those loved scenes I must leave now to others
For fate has decreed that I shall not remain
So adieu to the land of my youth and my fathers
To seek for a home o’er the wild foaming main.“
Likewise, some Portuguese fado songs are about sailors lost at sea, on a one-way journey beyond the horizon. Some of the lucky ones found their way to Aotearoa.
Portuguese make up only 0.02% of New Zealand’s population – but by coincidence, the Digitator also had a Portuguese ancestor, his from the Madeira islands. Hence the tune.