2020 runner up

graduation – Victoria Sun

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At our last sleepover
it is hailing, a great excuse for
instant ramen. My friend yells from the kitchen,
asking how much spice I want.
None,​ I say.
She shouts back ​weak​.
I surprise her with a back hug
which she leans into
after reaching around with her hand to smack me.

Then we want
something sweet;
with the only three spoons we can find,
we pass around a tub of ice cream

and I am crying
because I am leaving
for my promised-land, but
without my friends, I am a more scared adventurer;
I shine less brightly and feel the cold more often and I already miss
looking forward to shelter on return.

It’s okay,​ they say, and I tire anyway
so we fit into a pile
on the bedroom floor.
Sleepy, we play truth-or-dare which is fun
even when we know most of the answers to the truths.


Victoria Sun
Year 13
Epsom Girls’ Grammar School


Tagaloa-lagi – Allegra Wilson

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Above all else stood Tagaloa-lagi.
Standing in  s p a c e,
Above the heavens.
Tasi, Lua, Tolu, Fa, Lima, Onu, Fitu, Valu, Iva,
Nine heavens rest above.
Lagi’s constant reassurance,
Like a warm hand on
The head of a

Child, creation of Tagaloa.
On top of
Manu’atele he rests
To make his s
From    island    t o    island




                    Aotearoa​​​​​                                  Rapa Nui
Sitting in the heart of it all

V i n e s  s p r e a d  o v e r
Decaying to worms
Tagaloa gives them breath,
Sa and Va’i.
Brought together on one land
Tagaloa’s creation for
Men and Women.
His creation,
Men and Women,
Sa and Va’i.


Too far from


Tagaloa placed
In the centre to connect them.


Allegra Wilson
Year 12
Diocesan School for Girls


Dirge – Jackson McCarthy

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The women in my family


We are born from strong women.

From the boat to new lives,

Cold water, knocking knees, loose jaws, beads of sweat and bright red faces,

“She never saw her home”.

Women who looked after six kids by herself,
and worked in the old hotel with the staircase that echoes.

Kathleen kept the orange plate with the fruit in her kitchen. Every Sunday after dinner the
family sat down for pink ice cream sandwiches,

She felt like home.

Women who could never go to university and loved writing poems.

Women who were colourful and unafraid. Who cooked, cleaned and sewed.

“Come here Richard, Grant, Rebecca, whoever you are”.

She used to watch the sheets billow in the wind when she hung the washing out. Blues,
pinks, and florals running into the air.

Kathleen rode side-saddle and got married at 16,

And drove an old morris minor that could be heard from a mile away.


We are born from women who never gave up.

Who worked oil from the olive in 40 degree heat, black skirts clung to her like fog to the

Women who were tired but never stopped.

Goats, donkeys and thyme.

She had 8 children she prayed would never forget the blue of the Adriatic sea,

or the feeling of the smooth beach pebbles digging into your feet.

Who had a photo of the pope pride of place in her kitchen. Who said a Hail Mary every night
for her husband across the world.

Shared whispers with friends on red door steps and always stopped when she heard the
church bells.


We are born from women with smiles wide and warm like the asphalt on Walker Road.

These are the women who waved their husbands off to war.

Red handkerchief, gripping her youngest son’s hand, shaking palms, the green of his cap,
the noise of the train as it disappeared into the country and the thick black smoke like a drag
of a huge cigarette.

Women who gave us our names. Our first gifts. Who gave us our sunset at 5.30pm hair.

She was married on Christmas day 1935. A white gown and her mother’s pearls. Pink and
red peonies. The smell of the new leather shoes her father brought.


We are born from women who were creative. Who loved to sing and play the piano,

Sunshine spun into the air.

We are born from women who always did what they thought was right,

sent their kids to good presbytarian schools and never did anything on a Sunday.

Worked the Auckland Festival serving suppers to lawyers with red bowties.

Long hair tied up tight on top of her head, with careful fingers.

Yellow car, yellow blouses and sunflowers. Yellow like the autumn leaves and the lemon tree
that grew in the front garden.

She moved to Hong Kong,

the sour smell of the fish markets and cheap alcohol that filled the streets.

We are born from women who loved.


Xavia Hayward
Year 13
Marist College, Ak


USED WOMEN – Isabella Lane

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i think i might have zoochosis, i wish i could prowl like the streets are my enclosure, but there’s
a man who slows down his car when i’m walking, runs his eyes up my legs through his
sunglasses, and reminds me that the streets will never be mine, as long as there is curve to me,
i would give anything to be shapeless, these gazes are so heavy, and they make me so tired,
but there’s a man in the keyhole so i must make sure i don’t slouch, my back bows with the
weight, i will be crooked and then maybe i won’t be wanted, everyday i’m told i’m different, like
i’m something to collect, and he can put me on his shelf, he can stare at me as much as he
wants and i can’t move, he can touch me and no one else can, i am a used woman, i don’t think
i’ll ever be my own, and they are so heavy, and i am so tired, and i want to lose weight, to be
empty, and men will fill me up again, with those steel eyes of theirs, the way it penetrates right
to your heart, so even your core is not your own, there is nothing in you that can remain
untouched, i can’t breathe without a man’s hand down my throat, i want to be whatever it is they
want, if only they wouldn’t look at me the way they do, i might just shave my head and never
sleep again, i might just slice my gut open and crawl into the tripe, and never leave, and i’ll
sustain myself on the pieces of my tongue that i’ve swallowed through the years, and i’ll weep
for dido, i’ll wring my hands for ophelia, tear out my hair for desdemona, put the used women on
the pyre, and i’ll burn them right up, i’ll make sure it’s all gone, and when there is nothing left of
me, nothing for those steel eyes to stare at, i will prowl the streets like i wanted to.


Isabella Lane
Year 13
Rangitoto College


Blue Belongs to Her – Arwyn Cranston

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Blue Belongs to Her

All blue belongs to her, casting blue glaze.
The sky kisses good morning and goodnight.
Her magma tears roll from her cobalt gaze.
The waves of azurite will hug her tight.

Is she a dream? Or is she of a dream?
Asleep beneath the dark facade of waves.
Dreaming, is she? Of blue in her bloodstream?
Into her heart, soft pain the sea engraves.

The stars drink of her tender agony,
there is no blue, obsidian obscures.
Drowns in cerulean cacophony.
Her voice it takes, the thick thunder endures.

Mercury touch leaves heavy residue.
Quietly she breaks; she belongs to blue.


Arwyn Cranston
Year 13
Wakatipu High School


Cerebrum – Marijke Hinton

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I fear lots of holes close together


A little slug has never experienced the warmth of a cacao nib
The dung beetle has found a pink paw paw which he pines over from 6-6:15 in the morning
Only to discover that it is in fact a cuttlefish

I find myself down a wishing well wishing that I was worlds away
Only one can take this pain away and he can be found devouring 14 breadsticks
If you disturb him before he has eaten the fate of the universe will lie in the big intestine of a cow

Walking down a lonely road only makes me lonelier
I don’t belong here, never have, never will
Stars belong in the night sky but in the day are scarce
The moon and the sea pave way to another dimension
While the winds howl and the trees shake the earth is still

As if waiting it’s turn to roar and to kick
While the city hibernates the moon shines down
A spotlight which lights and scorches the earth


I don’t fear anymore


Marijke Hinton
Year 13
St Andrew’s College


Ngā Ata – Abraham Hix

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Ngā Ata

There’s no lights on our street.
We’ve only got footpath on one side of the road.
It’s cold out here mum.
There’s a speed bump down the end.
A car park round the corner.
A bird’s egg in the gutter.
I’m not sure why they have so many traffic lights round here.
It should just be zebra crossings.
There’s a sign telling you when the bus comes.
But we don’t take the bus anymore.
My jersey has holes in it.
It’s new.
All the visitors have to sign in at the office.
It tells us so on the gate.
There’s a lamp near the fork in the road.
I’ve never seen it on though.
I’m not as artsy as all these other people.
I’m not good at painting and drawing.
I wonder if i’ll ever use any of this stuff.
I’m still walking.
It makes clouds when I breathe.
Does everyone make clouds?


Abraham Hix
Year 13
St Andrew’s College


عید المیلاد السوري – Campbell Wilson

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Arabian oryx gallop through the land.
Snow falls on the dome rooftops of
mosques. Fireplaces roar. The rich smell of
fatteh. The sound of Christmas carols
filling the world. Excited children peeking
through shop windows, tugging their
parents’ burkha. Snowflakes fall softly,
forming pancakes of snow on top of cars,
falling on head-scarves like icing-sugar
falling on ma’amoul.

Now, the snowflakes are bullets. The cars
peppered with holes. Smashed windows.
Children still running through the streets,
through the rubble of their favourite stores.
The relentless crackle of gunshots.
Constantly hiding, clutching my Christmas
memories. Seeking refuge. Remembering
the smell of fatteh. The snow sprinkling on
top of head-scarves like ma’amoul. The
pancakes of snow on top of every car in
the city. Collapsing onto the soft snow. An
icy white pool of darkness.


Campbell Wilson
Year 13
St Andrew’s College