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New Zealand Folk-Heritage

This song is an English sailors’ song from circa 1800 that found its way to New Zealand, where I first heard it. However, in this NZ version the tune and lyrics have been substantially changed and localised and the arrangement is largely my own. I prefer the English version, but this has a simple Pacific-island freshness about it that I find enchanting. Both versions still arouse echoes of the South Pacific and images of the hard conditions that English sailors endured so far away from home. Thanks to the late Neil Colquhoun for introducing it to me.


New Zealand Folk-Heritage

I've traded with the Maoris, Brazilians and Chinese,
I've courted dark-eyed beauties beneath the kauri trees.
I've travelled along with a laugh and a song
In the land where they call you ‘mate’,
Around the Horn and home again, for that is the sailor's fate.

Across the Line, the Gulf Stream, I've been in Table Bay
Around the Horn and home again, for that is the sailor's way.

I've run aground in many a sound, without a pilot aboard,
Longboat lowered by lantern light, pushed off and gently oared.
Rowlocks creaking, a thumping swell and a wind that'd make you ache,
Who would sail the seven seas and share a sailor's fate?


We've sailed away to Northward; we've hauled away to East,
We've skimmed our sail in the teeth of a gale and stood in the calmest seas.
We've set our course by a Southern Star, by Stewart through the Strait,
Westward round by Milford Sound, for that is the sailor's fate.

Chorus x 2

© PhilDrane Music 2016