2019 runner up

Old man – Sebastian Macaulay

By | 2019 runner up | No Comments

Old man

I’m sitting and I watch the old man from the street rest and unfurl from his linen
a pack of Dunhills.
He twists off the cellophane and eyes his catch with thatvintage gleam
of noon-stripped old lowlifes, naked,
howling at their cigarette moons.
Cars and their drivers blur on by, each turning their heads as if to say
yes man, light that cigarette for all you’re worth.
Yes, man lights it.
Draws each drag out long like a bones player shifting keys.
He exhales each time only
a whisper of thin smoke-suns that twist, convulse mid-air.
I have a moment when I think of my father and I
driving along an afternoon’s length of country road; we could’ve been both fifteen
and I feel as if right here and now I’ll weep watching this old
new nomad smoke,
pulling our car breakneck along the asphalt,
filling the valleys and valleys and valleys,
hauling us through them,
here to someplace to every place,
maybe, most likely, somewhere unideal,
where infants are born dead but still live.
My father and I, our cities become flame, the skyscrapers strip the blue skies,
haul from the seas
an urgent thunderstorm now upon us all and still.
The old man smokes.
Almost at the filter now.
Watching our cars roll on by.
Looking with those eyes at each and every person as if to say
yes man, go on your way, go on your way.



Portrait of Sebastian Macaulay
Sebastian Macaulay
Year 12
Wellington High School


Felicity Wishes – Rachel Lockwood

By | 2019 runner up | One Comment

Felicity Wishes

My room looks like a stage set, ready for performance,
The good child good daughter gonna go for Head Girl, huh. Good.
Golden statuette on the shelf, Gucci counterfeits in the corner.
How would your friend describe you?

My childhood idol Felicity Wishes herself new
clothes every magazine,
new kind of person to try on, this skirt and this hat
make her a painter, this dress
makes her a poet.

I don’t know what my friends think
and BuzzFeed gives me a one-word guess.

I’ve got all the clothes still.
Nice easy bits that fit together, template cut-outs with dotted lines and creases,
you can build her into the boss, the girlfriend, the author, the activist, the teacher,
the girl who pocketed your mother’s lipstick on the way out.



Portrait of Rachel Lockwood
Rachel Lockwood
Year 13
Taradale High School


the bonds of love we meet – Pippi Duncan

By | 2019 runner up | 2 Comments

the bonds of love we meet

My little brother understood kia kaha to mean aroha
what with the silence we say it lately
a consecrated quiet

and chalk vows
clinging to school grounds
like blue to clouded sky.

Kia kaha means asking Laiba from class how to tie a headdress
uncrumple careful hands, each slip of scarf
you push back into place.

1:32 pm, close your mouth a moment.
———————–Kia kaha
is the bow of the rugby boys’ heads,
still of the prefect’s shoes. Listening to your friends

Light. Kia kaha is the look up,
the struggle of faith through the loopholes of our fists.

We will make this home again.



Portrait of Pippi Duncan
Pippi Duncan
Year 12
Takapuna Grammar School


A Long Drive Home – Maia Armistead

By | 2019 runner up | No Comments

A Long Drive Home

The moon is a freckled cheek
Pressed to a dark window.
A soft careful creature with
Skin like milk and tired eyes.

I like to think she’s sleeping,
Pitched sideways against the glass.
Condensation slicking her skin and
The world outside fogged away,

Nothing more to her than a dream.
Perhaps she’s on her way home
But the night keeps driving, on
And on, round and round the

Endless streets. She will never
Get home to a warm bed
But will stay forever, cheek pressed.
The sky a dark window,
And the world fogged away.



Portrait of Maia Armistead
Maia Armistead
Year 12
Waikato Diocesan School for Girls

March 15th – Emily Blennerhassett

By | 2019 runner up | No Comments

March 15th

I am eating a peanut butter sandwich and
there are children with hand-painted placards arranged like
little gods, standing defiant atop the Godley Statue.
Their hands are brimming with hope,
I wait, hands outstretched and catch what
These small people feel so big.
I am offered a refrain: ‘This moment defines us’.
And yes, my blurry edges are starting to solidify,
and yes, this is a good definition of us,
scrawled in coloured pen and shouted with collective pride.
My feet are tired,
but one does not sit
at a protest.

I am sitting in the bus exchange and
there have been twenty
gunshots in Christchurch.
It is loud
but later it will be too quiet, and it will feel like oil across the back
of your throat.
It will feel like an earthquake,
and trust me, we would know.
I will count the sirens for weeks afterwards.
I will write a poem, but it will feel counterfeit
because this does not belong to me,
because my language is beginning to feel like a weapon and,
because I sat in the bus exchange,
while there were twenty gunshots in Christchurch
and the #17 bus took me home.



Portrait of Emily Blennerhassett
Emily Blennerhassett
Year 12
Cashmere High School

Te Pō – Elizabeth Nahu

By | 2019 runner up | No Comments

Te Pō

our tupuna made epic stories
to the stars

but right now
i don’t need stories
i don’t need waiata
and i don’t even need poetry

the emptiness of a farm at night
the hum of the milking shed
the stones beneath my bare feet
the cool breeze on my skin

because sometimes
wonder is enough
and turning in circles
again and again
not quite full enough

and i know the world is round
because i see the night doming over me
Tāne’s kete of stars
spilling closer and closer –

and tonight
that’s enough
knowing i’m safe
in the embrace of Ranginui and Papatūānuku

i don’t even need to be human
just alive



Portrait of Elizabeth Nahu
Elizabeth Nahu
Year 13
Onslow College

one world sleeps in an apple – E Wen Wong

By | 2019 runner up | No Comments

one world sleeps in an apple

you are the red of Liberty, of RubyFrost
the crust of Central Park
you are the wings of flags at half-mast
of cultures       torn         apart
you are the long white cloud of pacific rose
the green of Monty’s Surprise
you are the Christmas colours in September streets
a New York state of mind
you are the mantle, the watercolour squares
history moulded in black stone
names in waves of rolling tears
of fallen friends, of frozen fears
one world sleeps in an apple
we are lost in our own city
Deans Ave curls of road cones:
the fire blight for humanity
these New York Times connect our lives
with students striking on streets
you are the yellow taxi exchanging clouds
for chambers of memories
one world sleeps in an apple
you are the core between the sea
synchronised movements of travelling waves
the cocoon unravels and breathes
one world sleeps in an apple
remembering our fallen leaves
we hold our hands between two mosques
in this city that never sleeps



Portrait of E Wen Wong
E Wen Wong
Year 12
Burnside High School

Our Gardener Ali – Claudia Snow

By | 2019 runner up | No Comments


As the sun sets, burnt copper through city haze,
Heralding the coming eve, Ali takes his leave.
In the fading light, the overwhelming blue
Of his boiler suit is muted a pale violet,
Aching feet eased by the warm pavement,
Where thick heels overhang their worn leather shoe.
The pavement swarms.
Blackberried bellies heaving beneath concrete slabs,
The familiar scratch, trumpet to an undying crusade,
But not tonight, tonight he will wait, overshadowed beneath white wings,
Eden’s eaves, as the garden surrenders the night.
He makes his way to the rim of the park.
There, a mud hut, made a home by a single bulb,
Shelters all his worldly possessions,
A bed, a mini fridge, a change of clothes.
It is this change of clothes he takes, swapping the suit
For a salmon pink shirt and tie, loafers far too big,
Handed down from the Egyptian man who lives in villa 25.
We flocked, the neighbourhood children, perched
In groups of threes, on compound walls,
Nestled amongst milky white,
To test bony fingers against paintwork and watch,
Silenced and cat-eyed,
As lopsided, he takes to his beaten path. Fridays to the mosque,
Tomorrow we will walk the same to Saturday brunch.
His bald head in the half light wet nosed like a lamb’s,
Leaving behind a kingdom of jaded greens,
Such lush blades of grass, which in spite of the desert air, are laden in dew,
Haloed, under the buzz of the tennis court’s fluorescent lights.



Claudia Snow
Year 12
Wakatipu High School

Orion’s Rust Belt – Charlotte Boyle

By | 2019 runner up | No Comments

Orion’s Rust Belt

The huntsman came looking
for something
and certainly
he did not find it.

We met him at the bus stop
picked up his luggage
then we went out for dinner
at the steakhouse.

Sometimes you can see the stars
out in the desert
reflecting the billion grains of sand
slipping and sliding
down the hourglass
counting away the decades.

The huntsman spoke at our funeral
before leading the procession up the mountain.
Everyone followed with their old boots
and pitchforks
but the road stops
seven miles out
from Olympus.



Portrait of Charlotte Boyle
Charlotte Boyle
Year 13
Cashmere High School