2022 runner up

long pause – Ella Sage

By | 2022 runner up | No Comments

long pause

for a minute,
life has symbolism and gravitas
———————–i am god in the garden
———————————–long buried beneath roses
———————–our bones rest together
and your heart is a sphere
——————————————only a minute.
——————————————then it comes back.

life, i mean.
life comes back.
———————————–it has a way of doing that.
a persistent ache,
—————————-a cabbage butterfly in your garden of poems.


Ella Sage
Year 12
Westland High School

Remnants — Sofia Drew

By | 2022 runner up | 2 Comments


I’d lie on the grass for hours. I’d let the blades softly cross-hatch the underside of my thighs so that my skin resembled the forest floor. Look up at the sky the exact colour and weight of cinder blocks. Watch the winged creatures etched into that stone. 

I had a shoe box under my bed where I collected anything that could once take a breath. The freckled skin of pōhutukawa leaves, clots of sap, cicada skeletons, a monarch wing. Every morning tea, my friends and I would gather in the trees behind the playground. Exchanges were made. A chrysalis, for the claw of a crab. A milk tooth, for the feather of a tūī. Everything passed between our opening and closing fists. 

In the afternoons when the teacher was talking and all our spines bent forward drowsily. I could see each vertebra protruding outwards. The small nobs like the burls of trees that we used to stick our feet into — just so that we could climb higher. 

When I fell out of a tree and landed on my arm I learned that living bones are pink. That bones can breathe. That the marrow is crawling with blood vessels. From then on I felt disappointed that the tyrannosaurus rex at the museum wasn’t the colour of peonies. 

These days, I find myself wishing that fossils could be excavated in reverse. I wish to know what we will become. What are we? Proto Sapientissimus? The not yet wisest? Will the soft flares in our spine be gone? Like the little, rotund pebbles on the shore that have been punched by waves for generations, will we become smoother? Happier? 

Will they find my arm in someone’s shoe box? Look at the bones that are the gentle brown of dried up petals. Will you hold my arm? Will you feel it in your fists, paws, feathers, flippers, or claws? Put it down again and then let the grass blades etch it, erase it? Let me be punched away into the earth. 


Sofia Drew
Year 12
Takapuna Grammar

Tūpuna – Bella Laban

By | 2022 runner up | One Comment


Ko Pukekaroro te maunga / i came from the bowels of my mother / who
came from the bowels of hers / all the way back / to Pukekaroro / my
mountain / my whenua / the spirits / the wairua of this land / brought to
life / through the actions of your mokopuna / we’ve worked the
whenua / utilised the whenua / abused the whenua / destroyed the
whenua / our whenua / not their whenua…/ well it once was our land /
should be our land /

Papatūānuku weeps / her tears and blood / the heat that stains / your
hands / like crimson on wool / generations go by / yet still, she cries / we
cry / i cry…/ they lied / played with our mind / rewired / trained / tamed / like
savage, stray kurī / whipped / pummelled / you kick us like dirt / the very dirt
you stand upon / on our land / lost words / unheard / our voice squeezed out
of us like juice / drained / reduced / you died / living their lie / forced to hide /

Ko Talamesi rāua ko Chilali ōku mātua / parents lead me / they guide
me / like the stars that guided my tūpuna / to this land / Aotearoa / the land
of the long white cloud / beauty all around / we sculpt taonga /
powerful enough to protect / then came the real cloud / thought to be the
light amidst the dark / who changed our ways / sculpted us to / their ideal
moulds / moving / constant movement / it never stops / stuck in the same
spot / waenganui / in between / such a small world / living / in between / too
black to be white / yet too white to be black / lost on a big, blank white
page / stuck between the thin black lines / no escape / all for what / what
cost do we pay to be different?

Watching / distant / life goes by / i see you / wind rustles your
hair / disappear / like the smog / which once was / now stuck in the air / you
felt like wā kāinga / home / memories / faded watercolours of time / melting
clocks / a signal / it’s all going by / you’re gone / my tūpuna / my beloved
tūpuna / your words linger in my mind / Inā kei te mōhio koe ko wai koe,
i anga mai koe i hea, kei te mōhio koe, kei te anga atu ki hea / if you
know who you are and where you are from, then you will know where
you are going / i’ve learnt from my tūpuna / to love the dark / you can
either shine as bright / as the matariki stars / or / blend into the shadows /
we are warriors / and we will survive.


Bella Laban portrait
Bella Laban
Year 12
Michael Park School, Auckland

Te pō, Te kore, Te ao Mārama — Ivy Evaaliyah Lyden-Hancy

By | 2022 runner up | No Comments

Te pō, Te kore, Te ao Mārama

i walk through concrete rivers
wairua lingering through powerlines
surrounded by rākau
which has been manufactured
into the warmth of one’s home
many homes
white picket fences and
sky tower brown
as i look up to Pukekiwiriki
laying at the sickle of this maunga
i imagine i am my tūpuna
the people of Ngāti Tamaoho
surrounded by rākau of lush forests
melodies of te manu engulfing me in its mana
wāhine moving through grub and fern
stripping the white man’s grass off all infinite crossways
i replace it with kōwhai
all things Māori
to have the indigenous urge to imagine Aotearoa before colonisation
is to be Māori
to be grounded amongst papa
amongst the kūmara pits
their flagstaff will fall
a tohu that we have taken our whenua back
our tikanga
our tāngata
holy hands of concrete statues will reach out to me
amongst the rubble
they will speak reo pākehā
a constant reminder of what they have taken from us
remove the ink of our tā moko
unbury the mass graves
remove our taonga from the museums
reclaiming our reo
they will be at the end of our pū
our rangatira behind us on the path they have paved
tapu tinana
tapu wairua
Aotearoa te tapu whenua amen


Ivy Evaaliyah Lyden-Hancy
Ivy Evaaliyah Lyden-Hancy
Year 12
Papakura High School, Auckland

Erosion – Cassia Song

By | 2022 runner up | One Comment



———–they draped me in a blanket
———————-though i’m not sure when
———————————or why
———————————only that they did
———————————because i clung greedily to it.

on a warm summer’s morning
i’ll wake
i’ll sit up
i’ll turn to look over my shoulder
and stay there staring at your drowsy face
the image develops like film in a chemical solution
when i get up i’ll plant a soft kiss on both your eyelids
they’ll flicker gently.

in the kitchen i’ll set the table for two
i won’t bother with coffee
neither of us liked it anyway
well then, pumpkin soup and banana cake it is
the regular routine
the same we do every morning
yet this time i won’t lay out the morning paper
because the news headline tells lies
you said people shouldn’t lie
you were always right, let’s not read it this morning.

that evening you’ll stand by the window
the light waltzing on opalescent skin
moon beams meticulously woven into silk hair
you’ll play your violin
the same song you always did
The Carnival of the Animals: The Swan, R.125: XIII
you liked Camille Saint-Saëns
i liked The Carnival of the Animals
it was as simple as that.

at night i’ll walk the same path
the same we walk every night
but this time i’ll take the long way around
the one that winds up with sand between my toes
the one welcoming salt air to infest my lungs
the one with crashing waves that sync with your heartbeat.

——on a warm summer’s night i bury myself under the waves
——to dig myself closer, a little bit closer to your heartbeat.


i lie there, listening
the world choruses a dissonant melody
it’s not silent.

i listen to the waves
they rhythmically, violently, mercilessly
deal blow,
——after blow,
———–after blow,
——————–upon the pitiable shore.

——i close my eyes, envisioning;
——the waves are me
——the shore is everyone.

tonight they accompany me;
calcitite offers her cloak of woven wrath
silica sings tunes with melodious malice
clay clamours about, fuming with fury

——i welcome them, let their antics
——swathe and wrap me about
——until i am no more
———————-but a stone
——————————-upon the pitiable shore.


that morning the day dawns on a calm sea
i clutch the hands of hysteria
and plead at their feet
if calcitite would accept back her cloak
if silica could un-sing his ballads
if clay could rest his feet
could i be returned to me, of what once was mine?



that evening i laid bare on the shore
submerged myself in lamenting waves
they stole calcitite’s cloak
flooded and drained my ears of silica’s tunes
washed over frantic footprints – remnants of clay’s clamouring

——i welcome them, let their antics
——flush and wring me about
——until i am no more
———————-but a bare body
——————————upon the pitiable shore.


that night i took a shower
turned the knob the full way to the left
invited the scalding water to burn away
whatever sediment was left clinging to my skin.

everything will erode
o v e r t i m e


Cassia Song
Cassia Song
Year 13
Otumoetai College, Tauranga

I’m not fluent but I will learn — Lucas Te Rangi

By | 2022 runner up | One Comment

I’m not fluent but I will learn

This my whakapapa
those who came before
those who will carry on after
kia whāia te māramatanga
this is where I come from

Ko te maunga / my māori
disconnected from our heritage

Our language was lost
our culture was ignored
seen through
slowly dissolved
as a colourless solution

Ko te awa / for us to follow
our descent into the future
our river the new path
reconnecting our maunga to the sea
a new opportunity to recover the untold
I am learning where I come from

Ko te waka / steers us down the awa
strokes of our oars like an engine room
our culture / what we were born with
aboard your waka and deliver
Philippians 4:13 / you are capable
I will share where I come from

The bones that lay beneath the iwi
same soil that will always remain
potential, pride, power
the home of our māori
our ancestors’ stories light our path
my home is where I come from

Our collective / ko te hapū
engari he toa takitini
reconnects me to the book
I am the new chapter
my hapū will always remain fluent
I come from chapters

The walls of my marae / my foundation
He toka tū moana, arā he toa rongonui
four walls 5ks west of Turakina
colours of pride love compassion
my place where I stand and belong
I come from my marae

Ko te ingoa / represents me
my mihi is me
I’m not fluent but I will learn
tēnā koutou katoa
I’m not fluent but I will learn

Lucas Te Rangi
Lucas Te Rangi
Year 12
St Andrew’s College, Christchurch

Bath time – Hannah Wilson

By | 2022 runner up | One Comment

Bath time

Patience is a habit
the bath has learned
from her many lovers.
They come
and go,
waxing and waning
like the moon.

Her presence settles over the soul
as easily as over warm flesh,
like the musk of steam or
dew drops.

Her heartbeat is the sound of water
gently eroding
her thighs
as if sculpted from sand,
her breathing
the sound a shell makes
when you hold it to your ear.

Her perfume is incensed
vanilla orange blossom candles
burning wicks like gasoline.

She is where a soon to be mother
belly glistening with sweat and steam and blood,
cheeks sparkling with tears and wonder.
The bath can cup the new life
against her porcelain skin.
Those days, her waters hold
the whispers of a doula.

She is where a med school hopeful
skins herself
of scrubs and good manners,
dissects herself, searching for any
fissures in the façade,
a girl who grew up hearing that she could never
be a doctor
now awaits exam results
like a telegram home during war.

She is where a survivor scrubs herself
of the probing hands
that invaded
the borders of her body,
colonised her
like indigenous land.

She is where a fourteen-year-old girl
her body
for the first time
and learns how to create earthquakes
inside herself.

The bath cradles each
like a newborn.

After sunset
the moon’s light splashes
across the bath’s porcelain skin.

She too is lonely.

So, for tonight
they find a home in each other’s arms.


Hannah Wilson
Hannah Wilson
Year 13
Raphael House Rudolf Steiner School

Blue – Louie Feltham

By | 2022 runner up | One Comment


How do you define a man?
dig through skin to find a heart and call it blue
grasp my frail hands in yours
and snap my fingers

scatter the bones over your garden
———————————__——-to feed the shrubbery
gluttonous greed grows quickly
a need for more
you will take it
without looking back
and I will let your vines envelope the old me
until all I have left are nameplates
————————————————chucked under beds
———————————————-___—-collecting dust

I am my old sweater on my chair
the one I wear to hide my chest
cover my scars in hopes of lifting my shirt to find a blank canvas
———————————————-___————a glimpse of what I could be

let the colour spill down my neck
and fill the crevices
with something beautiful that you would like
a mother’s shaky hand greeting her new found son
the sob of a despaired drag queen
————————————————punctured skin illuminated by street lamps
eyes crinkled in delight to be wearing my own skin

but I don’t dare to look
———————————————————————-I don’t want to

the only blue you see
is my bruised flesh
pinched and manipulated
to the figure that stands here
a shadow
of masculinity
the failed experiment of a rebellion

you pull out a camera and I touch my face
willing to mould it to your vision
—————————————————–compressed to your brand of trans
surrendering would be a sigh of relief

to accept
the stamp of womanhood

purchase my period products
crinkling plastic of blooms and blush
———————————————————————-and think yes,
—————————————————————————this is me

linger between the gates of heaven and hell
tainted blue and pink doors

scrutinise each curl
how it folds

fear holds the question in my throat
———————————————-___————Is it enough for you?

Louie Feltham
Year 12
Samuel Marsden Collegiate School

Transparent eyeball – Natalya Newman

By | 2022 runner up | No Comments

Transparent eyeball

It is easy to pretend to be everything.

A mother picks up a stack of bricks to mend her wall,
a child runs through sprinklers,

a bird flies too high and breaks its wing,
blood and feathers and hollow bones.
The heart of a hummingbird
locked in a box.

Did you hear?
The hummingbird has the biggest heart.
2.5% of its weight.
Surely a human heart is similar?
Google and the growing number of tabs
suggest otherwise.
Weird that a hummingbird
has a bigger capacity to love,
but not weird at the same time.
Humans are assholes.

A tree falls and keeps growing.
A house crumbles under the weight of thunder.
A secret longs to be held,
and your eyes roll over themselves
like plastic in a child’s ball pit.

Life is the shadow of death
that can only be seen in starlight,
and when Joy sleeps,
it dreams of Despair.

A shopping cart is exposed at low tide,
rusting and lonely with its two back wheels
reaching for the sky.
It was submerged when I last walked past.
Sunlight dancing across dull metal
and making it look like something magical
rather than something forgotten.
I took a picture.

Sometimes I just want to be held
like a lover on the battlefield.
A sword through my chest and
my blood spilling over the floor
and her
like cheap wine.
It would be nice to be
held with no consequences,
with no second guesses about tomorrow
because there are none left.

Truth deceives us more often than death.
Has the grim reaper ever lied to you?
Or Hades, with his helm of shadows?
Instead fear Aletheia, for the truth
lies in her hands.

I think the shadow behind me is growing.

You are transparent.
Or translucent?
No matter,
for you are not here
and you are not you
and I am an afterthought.

Seeing all and being nothing.


Natalya Newman
Year 13
Huanui College