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2021 runner up

Some Of All The Parts – Ella Paterson

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Some of all the parts

Tuinga te Ururua…
burn off the undergrowth

15 March

You lied to me about hate
I was told guns belonged in action movies
for Batman to chase away the bad guy
My TV lied to me today

—————————————-Gun
———————————————It’s a gun it’s a gun it’s a gun
————————————————–he’s got a bloody gun, get down

His hate is here
staining the silver screen
fanning out the blood of the fifty-one
on New Zealand’s darkest day.
His hate is here
in the hollow faces and hospital beds
in a facebook livestream
in the middle of a Friday prayer
tapu to the fifty-one

They are us
the fifty-one

They are us
flowers swathed in cellophane
handwritten notes upon the damp ground
desperate whispers upon a throng of white crosses
They are us
Welcome brother

They are us

As-salamu-alaykum
Peace be unto you

9 December

You lied to me about greed
I thought being greedy meant
taking too many cookies from the jar
My newsfeed lied to me today

—————————————-It’s level 1
———————————————It’s level 2
————————————————–4…… run

Upon a craggy crater
ignored by a bunch of businessmen
blinded by dollar signs
the plume was grey and thick
A boat of tourists put
upon a craggy crater
forty-seven shiny faces arrived
twenty-two didn’t come back
swaddled in a coffin of pumice
and powdered ash

All for the benefit of
a fistful of pennies
All for the benefit of
a fully lined pocket
All for the benefit
of 13 people
who valued their bank account
more than the pulse of twenty-two hearts.

Today

You lied to me about racism
I was taught that New Zealand
‘wasn’t racist’
My instagram feed lied to me today
Racism is here
in the curve of a sunrise
in the shadows of a doorframe
in the howl of a dog

—————————————-Where’s your passport
———————————————Where’s your passport
————————————————–Where’s your fucking passport?

The humiliating mantra shot
through the doors of the panthers
on not one morning
not two mornings
not for a whole month of mornings
but for years and years of mournings

Forgive us
for the way we turned your mornings
into a callous hourglass
which forced you to count down the hours of the moon
Forgive us
for the work that tore apart your flesh
and your family
Forgive us
for the shame you felt
Dragging your patterned tapa cloths
in the wake of a bleeding sun
Forgive us
for making your home a cage
with shackles designed from ignorance

But maybe most of all

forgive us

for the way we stripped away your mana
and hid unashamed in broad daylight
when we so carelessly
stole away yours.

…Kia tipu whakaritorito te tipu a te harakeke
so that the new flax shoots may grow

 


Ella Paterson
Year 12
Tauranga Girls’ College

 

 

Today My Sister – Penelope Scarborough

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Today My Sister

Today I poured water onto my plate at dinner,
in hopes my sister would notice
stuck a fork in my hand
and made a drawing for her
out of the soggy bread pieces.

Tonight my sister dropped her cigarettes under the dining table
before our dog wedged them under the rug.
She held me by my throat until I admitted to being a thief,
left bruises where there had been kisses
then dumped the remnants in a flowerpot
and left my tears swimming in the dirt.

Today I looked at my sister’s pack just a little too long,
graphic photos of murdered lungs
sobbing behind bars of bones, imprisoned in plastic packaging.
Knew tonight I’d have nightmares of them
taking shelter inside my sister’s ribcage.
Knew tomorrow she’d happily make a bed for them to stay.

Today I watched my sister stir her cereal almost reluctantly,
eyeing the clorox bottles on the shelf.
Two litres of death measured out in a plastic pot.
Knew she wished it wasn’t milk
she’d poured into her bowl at breakfast.

Tonight I watched my sister exhale a ghost from her mouth
but it wasn’t quite cold enough outside.
It filled the room and wrapped around me in a solemn hug
as if to whisper
“We’re sorry for what’s coming.”

Today I would grow quietly
so as not to disturb her,
muscles aching from neglect,
and miss another birthday
for a rehab visit
only to realise I’d turned 17
before I was 13.

Today I’d wear my sister’s sweater,
stained with smoke and regrets.
soiled with a permanent nihilism.
Ignore how immune it was
to the fruitless attempts of our laundry powder.

Tonight I’d sob on the wooden floor
that we found her on.
The floor that felt no empathy for me or for her.
Let the moon press its face up against the window
and stare down on me with pity.

But tomorrow,
I’d spit our memories into the bathroom sink.
Bittersweet saliva dripping from my mouth and hands
Watch those days slip through the cracks in the porcelain
before clawing to get them back,
so I could press them between the pages of a book
and stomach one more mouthful

And on her last day
I’d fill my sister’s room with smoke
Inhale deeply and close my eyes,
taste her laugh on my tongue,
how it lingered raw in the air
Hear the sound of her eyes
blinking quiet tears in the dark.

And though I didn’t believe in ghosts,
I knew she’d find a way to haunt me somehow.
Though the smoke slowed my heart
It wrapped around me
in a solemn hug
As if to say,
“we’re sorry.”
It wasn’t quite enough to pretend it was her.

 

 


Penelope Scarborough
Year 13
Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu

 

 

Bus Stop Morning – Janet Guo

By | 2021 runner up | 2 Comments

Bus Stop Morning

we jump to shake off the frost
defying our bags of gravity, textbooks and overdue ass-ignments
you ask how many hours i got last night
i sheepishly hold up a hand
you go in for the high five until realisation hits you
and you return with a thwack on my head
“!!!”
my huffs are stifled in the puff of exhaust
fumes that trail behind the screeching bus
it doesn’t ever seem to notice us until it’s too late

laughing
we waste all the time we will ever need
and you wage war upon our unbeatable enemies
of Work, demanding our meagre offering of sleep
of Time, pushing us into the gaping mouth of society
of Age, swarming us with impending responsibility
“work is for the weak
we have time on the bus
just catch up on your sleep”

shuffle on the bus, wear our mask, bag our seats
i fit into your neck like lock and key
your hair my makeshift curtain
that strokes my eyelids shut
and the
lull of the bus
rocks me back to a carefree past
when the future was
more
than    Credits    Applications    University

—————————————–   zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz –

you never knew what to do on the mechanical commute
eyes boring out the window, sitting in the music video that you’ve played a thousand times
the beeeep-shudder-jolt of every stop pacing the tempo
synced along to the freshest earworm living in your head
you watch the footpath roll past us like cassette tapes
layered people, gliding backwards, puffing frozen clouds
the weight of my head on your shoulder, anchoring you in
this moment
one less of what we’ll have left
no more than what we’d ever ask for

the Clock ticks past 8:45, every second herding more students into their classes
the Shepherd will beat us with yardsticks made of detentions for our tardiness, but
you press the button for every stop anyway.

 


Janet Guo
Year 12
Hillcrest High School

 

 

Laughing – Holly Willis

By | 2021 runner up | One Comment

LAUGHING

I’m checking 
Proof reading as I write 
You can catch it if you look close enough 
I mouth my sentence after I have said it 
Nervous tick mmm 
Retracing my steps in the sand 
Inspecting how deep I sink 
Where my weight is

I speak low and monotone 
you make me self-conscious 
Dishevelled 
I don’t lift my legs enough when I walk 
it’s more like a shuffle across the carpet

Mmm I say 
I laugh too loud 
It’s trying to make people relax I think 
(it doesn’t)

Don’t worry about me, look I’m laughing 
I texted the helpline last night 
I’m pretty sure my mother doesn’t find me interesting
I’m really really scared of not being interesting

 
I think that I’ve been neglected my whole life 
and I can’t tell you that without laughing

You’re interesting 
she says 
you are mysterious

Riddles are only interesting until they are known

You won’t like what you find 
You dig deeper and deeper 
No water just pebbles and rocks

The stubborn ground you stab your shovel into 
The way your shoulder hurts when you lift it above your head

I hate my room and everything it stands for 
When it’s messy I cannot go in there 
I can’t look you in the eye 
There’s something on my face 
Do not say it 
I’m laughing but 
you’re all not laughing but
I’m wringing my hands
biting 

looking out the window
patting my hips 

hiding my face 
making little sounds 

don’t worry about me 

I laugh it off

 


Holly Willis
Year 13
Wellington Girls’ College

 

Dirge – Jackson McCarthy

By | 2021 runner up | One Comment

DIRGE

For Ngaire McCarthy

Nandos, like the chicken restaurant, is what I called my nana
Who stood at Poppa’s grave next to me but turned to the side
Looking so staunch and serious, chin and neck and moko kauae
Like a cardboard cutout against the tense blue sky
The universe wrapped its arms around her
Whispering in her ear, telling her secrets
She knew everything before we did
Like at that moment she saw
The next few months of her life laid out before her
Saw doorways and hospital beds
And knew that when all was said and done
We’d be back at work chopping beans and baking pastries
This is how we honour our dead
We do not mention flesh; no pink, no grey
But turn toward the stars as if she’ll be rocketed up there amongst them
Kia ora, somehow crying sounds like laughing
Kia ora, somehow I am singing before there are words
Into the skies
Of Matariki.

 

Jackson McCarthy
Year 12
St Peter’s College

 

 

4 tha kulture – Grace Fakahau

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4 tha kulture

As the stars twinkle in the night sky, they twinkle like us, the grandchildren in my
———grandparents’ eyes.
As the sun rises and the sky light sweeps the darkness of the night away, it rises as we do in
———my grandparents’ home.
As the pan of eggs seethe, toast jumps up from the heat of the toaster as we jump up to the
———large breakfast table and prepare for my grandfather’s prayer.
As the food is passed down the table for breakfast, we are not only eager for the arrival of
———the food, but also my grandfather’s stories.

My grandfather, who salued the sea in the 1990s, tells us about our Pacific Heritage.

He tells us about the days he climbed up the coconut trees,
———the peaceful Sunday mornings at church with young children belting hymns from
——————–their little chests,
———the warm sun that shines through the sky and pigments his skin,
———the days he spent swimming swiftly through the clear waves at the beach with our family,
———the days of hard yards, learning cultural dances and performing them to his village,
———the days of showering in the rain while the warmth of the sun beams onto him,
———the days of riding his children to school on the back of his motorbike,
———he wants us to relive those days and experience the joy in our motherland,
———island joy.
———Just as he had at our homeland.

He awaits the day we head to the home we’ve never been to.
———The day where he can give us a tour of his village.
———The village that blossoms of meniscus flowers and sparkles from the stars in the night
——————–sky.
He awaits the day we head to the friendly islands together.

But how long does he have to wait for our island to find itself underwater?
———To find our island sunk.
———To find our people evacuated.
———To find his land gone.
How long do we have left until we find our island under?
How long do we have left to bury our elders in their homelands?
How long until it’s too late.

My Pacific islands face the effects of climate change today.
———This climate crisis causes a shortage of our supplies, when food is what brings us
——————–together.
———The flooding of the rain and storm surges increase as the floods of people at church on a
——————–Sunday morning decrease.

———The warm worshipping voices that steam up the warm Sunday mornings are now silent,
———as they await the storm to pass, and the sea to calm.

———The land that is our own home, now belongs to the sea.

My islands continue to sink into the sea as our government continues to sink into their caucus
———bench.
The sea will rise, and my islands will sink, my ancestor’s lands will soon become extinct, unless
———our government in this developed nation declares a climate emergency.

Will my islands be another story to tell?
Will the clasping of my grandfather’s hands around my own be the only connection I have to my
———homeland?
Will I even be able to visit my islands, a home where my ancestors lay and my people pray?
———Pray for the water to keep from rising, to keep from the sinking of our islands.
———The water that connects our islands, will sink our islands.
Tonga, I fear losing her.

You see the gold bling from our teeth when we smile,
———we smile as we sink,
———but don’t mistake smiles of resilience as a sign that we’re okay.

This climate crisis is more than just the trees falling and sea rising.
———It is the children laughing and giggling to each other as they walk through the floods up to
——————–their waistline,
———holding bags of fruit above their heads,
———it’s the father who holds his son as he prays before the cyclone hits their village,
———It’s the food that’s given out for the cost of love,
———The churches where the village sleeps during the storm as one big family.
These actions of resilience, don’t mistake them as a sign that we’re okay.

As my ancestors above look over me, they ask why I am crying.
They ask why their islands are dying.
I try to explain this climate crisis as a whole,
but i’m focusing below, as I tulou between their headstones, sinking.
as my voice breaks to save our islands, my ancestors ache as they sink into the dirty sea in
silence.
I will fight to save them. I will fight to save the Pacific.

For my ancestors who sailed the moana, who were raided in their homes and on the streets,
hoping for a lifestyle filled with endless opportunities for me, I raise my voice.

For my islands where my family lives and ancestors are buried, sea levels rise as our land sinks in
a hurry, I raise my voice.

For my islands that you book for your ‘tropical’ holiday, but ignore the effects of us sinking
through this climate change, I raise my voice.

For my brown, Tongan, minority raised, child of immigrant parents, Salvation Army, Good Will,
holey socks and shoes self, I raise my voice.

For my ancestors, for my islands, for the hood, for my grandfather’s stories.
——————–I raise my voice, 4 tha kulture.

 


Grace Fakahau
Year 13
Amanaki STEM Academy and Palmerston North Girls’ High School

Cultural Tripartite – Angelina Zhou Narayan

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Cultural Tripartite

CULTURAL APPROPRIATION ON CULTURAL DAY?

Lining up for the Japanese curry, I look around
See how I’m shrouded by flowing hanfu, proud patterned layers of the hanbok
Picking out a loose wire from the kameez I bought in a Fijian department store a few years back
The royal blue is restricting, the flash intertwining gold pressing against my chest
The stares are what a hen painted into a peacock gets
The compliments are what you give a pretty ornament from the souvenir store.
I’m often told I don’t look Indian
When I get home, I claw my way out of the gauzy layers
They cling to my skin, then my culture is once again
Folded neat, stashed compact in the same bag the cashier gave me.

OUTSIDER ATTENDS FIAFIA NIGHT

Saying grace, anticipating the kai
I look, and the sense of belonging isn’t there
But trays of tuna swim in coconut milk, an entire pig rests upon crumpled foil
Mountains of bread slathered in butter
I gravitate towards the scent of curry, roti
Politely decline the sapasui
I cling to my Chinese mother to fend off the foreign feeling
What’s an Asian woman doing at a Pasifika event?
Then they look to my iTaukei dad, and we’re no longer outsiders.

FRIED RICE IN MANDARIN IS CHAOFAN

Stilted greetings, switching tongues
Wishing I could interpret their lilting vowels, the steady-stream-flow of syllables
They switch the setting when their eyes see me, they ask
Do you eat chicken feet?
When I come to dim sum, I don’t order fried rice
That shows how cultured I am
They say I’m pretty for a mixed-blood
Can you speak Mandarin?
Not really, but I can say what fried rice is.

 


Angelina Zhou Narayan
Year 13
Burnside High School

 

Who’s A Dog’s Best Friend? – Darcy Monteath

By | 2021 runner up | One Comment

who’s a dogs best friend?

i aint ever seen a dog walk a man.
imagine him; chained up ankles, sand rubbin’ raw on the peak of his knees,
sippin’ on drain water, dust mites n’ diesel.
he’d be spoilt, that man, no doubt, no doubt.

i aint ever seen a dog walk a man
but i seen menace of metal have a go at the belly of our ma
give her a big ol kiss goodnight or
take a bite out of her – the greedy bastard.

always wantin’
always grabbin’
never givin’
never sharin’

i aint ever seen a dog walk a man
all he ever does is be chewin’ on wasp nests n’ thickets
long rope n’ thistles, batteries n’ teabags
oh, he spits em out all right.

he spits n’ it seeps right into the skin of our ma and we weep, n’ weep, n’ weep
but there aint no use crying over spilt milk

i heard a man say that once
so i stole it
‘cause if a dog can walk a man,
then we can have all the power in the world.

i aint ever seen a dog walk a man
but i tell ya what i have seen;
big metal mouths that slobber on seeds
watchin our ma grow cysts of concrete and chemtrails

and she coughs’ n’ coughs’ n’ coughs
till dogs n’ cats n’ everything that bleeds
start coughin’ up the blood of man
till it’s a dog’s world no more.

i aint ever seen a dog walk a man
funny thought that, huh?
man’s best friend or whateva

well this dog’s been waitin’ on his
since man even got here.


Darcy Monteath
Year 12
Logan Park High School

Westside Stories – Ruby Buffet-Bray

By | 2021 runner up | 2 Comments

Westside Stories

White girl raised west side
Oratia to Kelston; postcodes define the lines between the haves and have nots
At 0612 you’ll find
Sunnyvale station; home of the world’s greatest domestics
And where my westside story begins

Grew up right side of the train tracks
Raised by woman clutching the kids with their right hand
While opening their eyes with the left

Stealing mama’s money
We bought big macs at the mall
Consumers of a capitalist agenda
Always tryna be right
Signing petitions and tiktok till midnight
We’re all witches
Casting spells of nostalgia
Blowing up our cul de sacs like firecrackers
10 year olds with back eyes
We listen to their pleas as water boils over
Scalding skin like sunburns

I saw my neighbours’ kids begging at the fruit shop
Two dollar donations don’t change society’s failure to care for future generations
I see kids drop out like flies
Struggling to get a job
Empty dinner plates pile over cracked kitchen tiles,
All the while we tell them it’s their fault
Never wondering why they fell
So this cycle continues

‘Cause at 14 they’re no longer children,
Already corrupted by this broken institution,
Birth certificates are their witness statements
2 days old when they got their first life sentence

White girl raised west side
I never felt these problems
But I see them every day
Mama fosters kids
I see how she fights for them
Oranga Tamariki forgot its meaning
Child welfare – they just store kids till they’re 18
Don’t mind the teen pregnancies and ODs
It just runs in their blood
Or maybe they’re just bred that way
Maybe it’s forced down their throats till it’s the only way left to breathe
We don’t tune out their voices,
We tear out their tongues
Tape them to walls and congratulate the work done
Like we’re artists not grave robbers for the living
I went to my first party this June
0 6 4 2, the other site of westside
Friday night heard white boy say the n word
I kept my mouth closed like I wasn’t horrified by his words,
Laughing I barked out the syllabus of my privilege

Pretending knees on necks weren’t bred from anything less

I went to my first party this June
Rich white boys listened to gangsta rap talking Bloods,
Buying weed with their mamas’ pocket money
Taking photos throwing up westside like boyy you go to MAGS
Follow your daddy’s footsteps you won’t ever go to prison
It’s easy to pretend we don’t have privilege

This is the other half of westside

Culture shock only 2 ks down the road
Mama told me not to put my address on the CV lest people judge
Things only become ghetto when you call it
Titirangi to Glen Eden
Already seeing the effects of gentrification
Thursday night parties are what westside’s built on
So don’t you dare call it ghetto
Raised by advocates and educators we like to think were the good ones

Try fight the good fight, use that privilege where it counts

But if my white saviour complex only sticks when it suits…
Can I really call myself an advocate?

So I swear these lips will never stay sealed

Keep fighting till my knuckles bleed
My baby brother Māori
And I refuse to let this coloniser curtain cut him
Break these shackles
Burn down these white-washed walls
Get into parliament and rebuild West Auckland from its ashes
This new generation, we’ll start the revolution
No longer waiting for you to get comfortable
These bombs are set to explode
Buckle your seatbelts,
This new westside story starts now

 

 


Ruby Buffet-Bray
Year 12
St Dominic’s College