Andrew Aitken-Fincham

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Andrew Aitken-Fincham – (Year 13, St Andrew's College, Christchurch)


She shows me her brand new skirt
Sie zeigt mir ihren neuen Rock
She loves the colour of the theatre lights
She loves to practise her lines
With plastic actors and dollar bills
The blondest brunette

She rolls up every breath
As if it wasn't safe
To breathe
The more she practises, the worse she gets
At breathing

Every night she stands and delivers
Words being chipped from her mind
And spat out
She wonders whose weight she's carrying

She feels like her feet are spinning
In a different direction to her head
She sees more when she closes her eyes
Sees music
Her words can't describe

She dreams of a dainty curtsey
To an audience more than lights
A disjointed dance
And line after line
She falls

She loves the colour of the theatre lights

Chaturika Jayasinghe

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Chaturika Jayasinghe – (Year 12, St Cuthbert’s College, Auckland)

Thumb – luv
‘I, txt jnky,
      tk u;>;->
            2 b my lwfly wded
                  txt m8.
                        2 hv & 2 hld, :‑X
                              Frm dis fne 2 da nxt,
                                    4 top ups & 4 no crdit;
                                          ,n poor sgnl & free air tym, *<):0)
                                                2 txt & 2 pxt ‑
                                                         2 share our thumb ‑ luv
                                                               ’til low bttry do us prt.”
                                                                     Urs 4 eva & eva & eva & eva

Alisha Vara 2007

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Alisha Vara – (Year 13, Rangi Ruru Girls' School, Christchurch)


the man who knew my
parents but didn’t know we
were vegetarian caught us a fish.

we laid it down in the garage,
glistening, lucid, a sea animal
dressed up as land. it was wrapped

in newspaper, one eye gazing
vacantly, the other, bloodied,
lost and not knowing.

the people at the wedding
knew, though. they knew how
to tell stories with their hands

and paint henna onto bored
children, flower webs twisting
around finger and palm.

they transformed hands into
seas of red where the fish
would have swum, seamlessly,

through ranks of dreams. instead
it lay solemn, and still. felt like
piranhas gnawing at my heart.

2009 Commended Entrants

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Category judge Jenny Bornholdt commented:

'I chose 12 poems to highly commend. These poems all stood out as being written by people who'd thought about language and were attempting to use it in interesting and imaginative ways. Some of them were a bit uneven – they had fantastic bits, but then conked out somewhere along the way – but all were engaging and showed plenty of promise. Congratulations to all of them.'

  • Charlotte Agnew-Harrington of St Cuthbert's College: 'In Praise of the Girl Next Door'
  • Phway Aye of Palmerston North Girls' High Schoool: 'A Love Letter to Burma'
  • Toni Duder of Epsom Girls' Grammar School: 'Gambling with Matches'
  • Philippa Ebdon of St Cuthbert's College: ' How to be Bored'
  • Anna Feilding of Columba College: 'Haikus'
  • Olivia Hall of St Cuthbert's College: 'How Else to Explain'
  • Kat Hunia of St Cuthbert's College: 'Identity'
  • Andew McIndoe of Wellington College: 'Hiding Place'
  • Madeline McIntyre-Wilson of Onslow College: 'Unrequite'
  • Jessica Storey of St Cuthbert's College: 'redbloodbluedress'
  • Pooja Sundar of Epsom Girls' Grammar School: 'Tha Tha (Grandpa)'

'In Praise of the Girl Next Door' by Charlotte Agnew-Harrington and 'Gambling with Matches' by Georgia Boyce were also runners-up in the Best Lyric category.

Commended Entrants 2006

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Highly Commended

  • Miranda Cossar, Epsom Girls Grammar School, Auckland: ‘I Used to Wonder'
  • Rex Cullen, Lawrence Area School, Otago: '10 to None'
  • Pramudie Giunaratne, Epsom Girls Grammar School, Auckland: 'Inamorato'
  • Lexie Hughes, Epsom Girls Grammar School, Auckland: ‘Friday and the Problems Flowers Present'
  • Jenna Kerley, Wairoa College, Wairoa: ‘Summer Lunch'
  • Allison Tang, Epsom Girls Grammar School, Auckland: ‘Albert Park’
  • Lizzi Tollemache, Marlborough Girls College: ‘Remembering Ana’


  • Rhonda Bridges, Awatapu College, Palmerston North: ‘Not a shortcut’
  • Jasmine Kim, Otago Girls High School: ‘Night in the playground’
  • Renee Lyons, Tawa College, Wellington: ‘The Exam’
  • Kate Mead, Epsom Girls Grammar School, Auckland: ‘Cuba St’
  • Hannah Ellen Rogers, Epsom Girls Grammar School, Auckland: ‘Logan Terrace’
  • Meg Wearing, Wellington East Girls Grammar School: ‘Lunch’

Graeme Ninness

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Graeme Ninness – (Year 12, Awatapu College, Palmerston North)

A Universe in my Head

Have you seen the Eyzrian land
With carpet’d hills of golden snow
The thorngrass plains flow to the sand
Where Ranweck’s marble spires grow

Have you seen the province of Eyzria?
It is hilly and has gold-coloured snow
There are large thorngrass plains
And a marble city called Ranweck

Go yonder to the Jindra Head
And see the diamond shrine of old
A tribute to the ages dead
When men were proud and kingdoms bold

In the province of Jindra Head
There is a shrine made of diamonds
Constructed many centuries ago
When the world was better

Sail o’er the blinding crystal sea
Where lie the vast Memorial Isles
A solemn land of spirits free
Tranquil lakes and woods for miles

There is a bright clear sea
And islands which are very big
It is a nice, happy place
With large amounts of nature

And turn your eye to Markeroth
Where rain is fire and grass is ash
Few see the thunder-breathing moth
When all is gone in one mere flash

In the place Markeroth
Which is burned and nasty
There is a rare moth that creates thunder
The place is very dangerous

To see the towers of Zendril tall
Like silken hands to clasp the sky
A frozen land of fair for all
Though secrets black lurk ‘neath the eye

Zendril has tall towers
They are white, and look like hands
A democracy in a snowy climate
Although it has bad things also

O to gaze upon the astral plane
Descending to the planet’s gleam
Is but a curse when visions wane
To know your world is but a dream

Looking at space
Then looking at the planet
Is not good
When you know it’s not real

Jennifer Niven

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Jennifer Niven – (Year 13, Samuel Marsden Collegiate, Wellington)

Life Cycles

I found a foetus in my egg
A fleshy body slopped into the bowl
Where a fat yellow yolk should have been
No sunny side for this guy

What’s up with you said dad
Period pain I said and went outside
To sit on the cold back steps
And listen to the six o’clock news
           from the silhouette of
                     old Mrs Reiher’s open window

Then I found my little brother
(In his fat yellow fireman’s hat)
Hugged him, in case he didn’t know
That shit happens
And when you’ve grown up
You’re not supposed to cry about it

Laura Lincoln

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Laura Lincoln – (Yr 12, Karamu High School, Hastings)

So here we are

What’s a few men
             who throw their arms around me
                         when you are not here
                                     to connect my dots

Tell me you need me
            I’m losing my touch
                      playing snakes and ladders
                                 on the back of my hand

Give me a reason
             to change it
                          to fall at your feet
                                     knee deep in solution

Make me want to
             remove your coat
                           and let you
                                         warm your hands
                                                      on my stove

Lilian Yong

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Lilian Yong – (Year 12, Epsom Girls Grammar School, Auckland)

Cellar Door

This is the Age, you say,
and elbows send the bitter cup
that scrunches your eyes and shrivels your cheeks
into a precarious tilt.
(You said that it would grow on you.)

Oh, I say,
your excitement not catching.
Things are still, stagnant.

The best days of our lives, you continue,
and later, when you can't get the window
open fast enough, I see that you
had carrots, discoloured, descending
in a thin soup of acid and wine.

And later, between more facial contortions,
you say it will only get better,
and I can't help but smile.