Friday, 9 September 2022

Given Poems – National Poetry Day 2022

Ngā mihi ki a koutou for sending your poems with the five words from the girls of Our Little Roses, Honduras. We received 167 poems and have chosen 35 to publish here on Given Words. The winning poems have been selected by Mikaela Nyman, Sophia Wilson and Charles Olsen. (You can read about them here.)


Charles comments on behalf of the judges: An ancient warrior, roses as warriors of the night, a wounded warrior, warrior girl, eco-warrior, a yoga pose, a soaring warrior, a different kind of warrior, a warrior beast for God. It’s not the easiest of words to find a place for in a poem—alongside the other four words, thankful, help, different and dream—but many rose to the challenge and we have enjoyed reading them all. It is so interesting after our close readings to compare notes with the other judges and I’m very grateful to Mikaela Nyman and Sophia Wilson for their reflections and insights into each poem. I will highlight below some of our reactions to the poems, but you might like to scroll down first to the winning poems and read the poems from adults here and by under-16s here before returning to compare notes.

In the adults category, I found different dog very moving, carefully composed with pauses as if searching for the right words, or changing thoughts mid-sentence like a gramophone skipping tracks or an elderly person with a head full of memories and thoughts. Sophia commented it is ‘a complex poem teeming with lush imagery. Fluid associations and the poem’s creative flight of ideas contrast with allusions to incapacitating grief and anxiety. There are many images to love. The last line in particular stands out for me in its capacity to convey a sense of being removed or cut off from life / observing life through depression’s painful and isolating lens: “I’m a spiracle / a glass eye a window pane”’. It is a poem to listen to the voice of, and, as Mikaela commented, it needs time to ‘percolate’ and ‘show itself in full’. She also highlighted the ‘wonderful mix of archaic, unusual words and turns of phrase with “hairspring turntable”, “a gurney frayed to blisterhood”, “sizzled cambium” and “spiracle”… such a pleasure to savour them’.

4 points on a compass captures for me the sense of having to create your own story and trust in your own personal compass. Divided into four cardinal points: Bird, City, Parent, Ocean, these themes play back and forth throughout the poem. Mikaela commented the poem is ‘pared back, yet lush somehow; quite wordy despite the first impression. Its deceptiveness impressed me.’ Each pair of lines makes you stop and think, “a flight test or / parent of destination”, “rising like clarity / something to work toward”, and they come further into focus as the poem continues.

A short video shared on television and social media at the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is the inspiration for a handful of seeds on air. I always find it surprising when the five words so deftly form part of the narrative. Mikaela said it is ‘a poignant reminder of what is going on right now in Ukraine’ and she highlighted how the poem is ‘quietly devastating in its surprise ending.’

This place also caught our attention. Mikaela described the opening stanza as ‘a beautiful meditation that captures a specific place as well as state of mind.’ It opens slowly giving a context and reason for the poet to write, a place (the port hills) and a subject (a cat), and gradually builds a picture around unsaid or difficult to express feelings, that are paralleled in the phrases “caught in my throat”, “holes in their throats”, and “the fluttering in their throats”. Sophia described it as ‘A poem about identity and belonging—the poet is “somewhere between pain and port” / the “fault jolting the haves and have-nots onto the streets below”. In the midst of biological and ecological fragmentation, they draw comfort from the “the spines of books”. A “puriri caught” in their throat suggests the painful but creative re-imagining that is inseparable from the writing process itself’.

In the end we were drawn to the poem Prognosis, which Mikaela describes as ‘A well-crafted and measured poem that opens in an intriguing and utterly gorgeous way, with “building cities out of boxes” being the normal and desired state of affairs’. Sophia highlighted its ‘evocative, engaging imagery and a moving, relatable narrative that keeps the reader with the poet throughout’ where ‘the protagonist is both a “warrior razing cities” and the “tired soldier doubled over the bathroom sink, wrung out like old laundry.”’ I wonder if, as Mikaela commented ‘the poem hones in on the specificities of the devastating effects of war on soldiers, resulting in possible PTSD, painkillers and illness’ or if this is a metaphor for a younger person facing new challenges following some kind of accident or illness? Sophia highlighted how the 'final lines place personal trauma and a “do or die” breed of resilience in historical context: through a haze of “pain-killers” and nightmares, the narrator is confronted by “the ghosts of Spartan mothers with the bloody / halves / of pomegranate seeds / lodged in their teeth”, who warn against giving up'. An unforgettable image.

Although we received poems from around the country in both categories we where surprised to find all the poems we selected by under-16s came from Ōtautahi Christchurch. The judges know the age of each poet but have no idea of the names or towns until after the winner and selection are chosen. It was wonderful to see a number of schools and writing clubs encouraging their students to participate and maybe other cities and towns would like to see if they can feature in the selection next year! Here are some of our highlights from the Under-16s.

The title Counting a sunshine of sheep captured our attention and Mikaela and I both described it as made of ‘brushstrokes’, short verses that create a lovely rhythm and gradually build a picture. Mikaela described it as ‘evocative and a bit mysterious—makes me wonder if it is about the ocean heating up or perhaps a rescue mission of a swimmer (or perhaps sheep) in dire straits.’

fragile courage, like another of the selected poems Boy and Grasshopper, communicates empathy for suffering creatures and highlights the plight of prey. Sophia described fragile courage as ‘a thoughtful and sensitively written piece, with rich and evocative imagery: “trampled amaranth flowers / fragment the forest floor” and “a russet rabbit labours / over the cracked, dry lips / of a fallen tree / a warrior in its own right”’. I liked the play of sounds, the t, th, f, fl, ff, in the first stanza and the rr and ss in the second moving into the k, kek, in the third—the sounds of the forest floor and the call of the kārearea as the rabbit lopes on.

From one of the younger poets, Crazy Dreams caught our attention with the fun rhyme running through it: head, beds, sleds, sheds, legs, and Mikaela highlighted ‘its originality and the imagery used: "fill my head with spears", “cloud warriors stealing blankets” and making “blanket sleds” to be able to travel from cloud to cloud.’

Sophia commented on the untitled poem beginning “She dances / beside the Avon River” as being ‘a well-constructed and moving personal narrative. The themes of loss, grief and yearning are clearly communicated as the protagonist mourns their confident, loving father who is now an absent and “wounded soldier”’. I thought the simple directness of the poem only added to the anticipation, the hope something will happen, and was drawn to the subtle connections with the magic of water with “Her rain-soaked hair / Clinging / As she spins” and a dance “Helping the river / Whisper its secrets”. Mikaela thought it ‘a beautiful and gentle poem that in its very form seems to evoke the dancing the poem speaks of’.

‘“at age 9 / I gutted a swan”—the first line of Doubt sets up its compelling and uneasy narrative. Detailed and striking imagery vividly portrays both what is happening externally in the poem and the narrator’s inner ambivalence. A complex, sophisticated and unique poem with a sinister underbelly,’ wrote Sophia. Mikaela also described it as ‘a narrative poem that is highly original and startling in its subject matter … Rather than being gruesome, a fascinating ritual plays out in front of the reader, with evocative detail. It contains some fabulous slant rhymes and line breaks that keep the readers on their toes, time and again surprising the readers with the word choice and urging us to read on, for example: “I opened the box, choked with / crayon-smudged paper and / ceramic cats. There were my dreams / gathering dust”’.

We are delighted to announce the winning poets. The winner of Best Poem is Sarah-Kate Simons for her poem Prognosis and the winner of the Under-16 category is Saphra Peterson for her poem Doubt. They will receive books courtesy of The Cuba Press. Congratulations from Given Words and The Cuba Press.

Below are the winning poems. We also invite you to read our selection of the rest of the poems from adults here and from under-16s here. All entries had to include the following five words: help, different, thankful, warrior, and dream.


You dreamed of a different life,
building cities out of boxes
as if you could role-play yourself into
blooming, into blossoming fat-petalled
and lively—

instead, you learn to be thankful for
small mercies, like the days you can
accomplish the stairs without help
and it feels like conquering Everest.

in your head, you’re a warrior
razing cities, not the tired soldier
doubled over the bathroom sink, wrung
out like old laundry and
plugging their mouth with painkillers
to get some sleep tonight

and in your nightmares you’re confronted by
the ghosts of Spartan mothers with the bloody
of pomegranate seeds

lodged in their teeth,
reminding you

come back with your shield—
or on it.

Sarah-Kate Simons
Southbridge, Canterbury


at age 9
I gutted a swan.
You arranged intestines
into smiley faces.
In a practical voice,
you pointed to the crop
guided my trembling hands
(clasped around a rose-pink shard
of Mother’s beloved
perfume bottle)
and helped me slice.

You picked the rocks
made sure they weighed enough
before filling its carcass.
I removed the crop
thought, for a moment,
how I could use it as a bag—
your hands slithered over my shoulders,
your fingers lukewarm—
we had a job to do.

I opened the box, choked with
crayon-smudged paper and
ceramic cats. There were my dreams
gathering dust
in the shadow of ignorance,
fear of being different
forcing my ambitions
into seclusion.

We dropped each crumpled
ball of paper into the crop
and stitched up the swan.
Over the frosty grass
we came to the oily-black
mouth of the well.
I did what you told me to.
With an ever-thankful smile,
we dropped that pristine white carcass
into the water
which shuddered as
it sank.
'How brave,' you whispered.
'What a warrior.'
And still,
I felt like a coward.

Saphra Peterson, aged 15
Doyleston, Canterbury

About the Poets

Sarah-Kate Simons is a 17 year old poet and writer from rural Canterbury, where she lives with her adorable but troublesome Fox Terrier. She is widely published online, in magazines and in anthologies, such as Toitoi, Write On, Re-Draft, the NZ Poetry Society Anthology, and Poetry NZ Yearbook. She has also placed in several poetry and writing competitions, recently winning the 2021 HG Wells International Short Story Competition. Her other hobbies include ballet, talking to thin air and going ratting along the riverbank with her dog.

Saphra Peterson lives in rural Canterbury but one day aspires to rule the world. She loves reading, writing, creating disturbing artwork, and running from the authorities. She can be found playing violent games of cards or contemplating her own demise. She hates writing biographies, in case you can't tell.

Continue reading our selection of poems from adults here and from under-16s here.

Given Poems – National Poetry Day 2022 – Adults

Here is our selection of the entries for Best Poem for the Given Words competition for National Poetry Day. They all had to include the following five words: help, different, warrior, thankful and dream.

You can read the winning poem Prognosis by Sarah-Kate Simons along with the judge's comments here and the poems from the Under-16s category here.

❆ ❆ ❆

different dog

your Shadow’s taken to me
i’m thankful she’s come round
i was beaching     lolling in the shallows
no fleshy butcher’s bone
no touchstone casserole
you know how royally i drift off
but she barked me back     my empath
warrior i’ve been nursing your hairspring
turntable     made it sing
bring it on home to me
yes, that’s where it’s at
was it your hand parked wine
my way     my help meet     arming me
up for the ponderous night?
that’s when our bed we electrified
with physical poetry     morphs into
a gurney frayed to blisterhood
with languidity     you     dead
are a different dog in the dark
i promised     when you went     i’d see people
but talking’s a rope ladder
dangling from the sky
streets are spindly piers
dissolving into the sea
safer to fold paper seven times
small into silent talismen
and clove-spike oranges into     pom-
anders     my warm apples of amber
the Christmas kowhai we planted out
for its vivid architecture so heimlich
was glanced by lightning     I saw
its life rings laid bare     honey i drizzled
over its sizzled cambium
it murmured remember     or did i
dream that     I’m a spiracle
a glass eye     a window pane

Anita Arlov
Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

❆ ❆ ❆

4 points on a compass
after ‘Song About a Child’ by Oscar Upperton


a flight test or
parent of destination

rising like clarity
something to work toward

maybe a simple deep-seated
desire in a maze of hypotheses

on the updraft
hammering heartbeat

the steady surging
of feather and bone

soaring warrior
the very definition of truth


a bird in the hand
and a whole feast

of screaming seagulls
a fitful flock of feckless

flapping amid a tangle
of towering surveillance

keeper of secrets
the deep unknown

a bustling collection
of currents and rips

a whole buffet
of blind intersections


shepherd of the labyrinth
temptation smorgasbord

city of lies and misdirection
confessions whispered in a dream

wave upon wave of letting go
the silence of tides

and relentless tension
of planet and moon

a turn-style of ‘help’
confused constructs of signs

pointing this way and that
just thankful for a poorly drawn map


are you a thunderstorm

of shifting glass?
captain, first mate, or passenger?

the ever-present

a twisting spindle
of sour grapes

trust the footprints
in the shifting sand

a different story worn
ragged in the storm

Jenna Heller
Ōtautahi Christchurch

❆ ❆ ❆

This place

I find myself on these port hills again
thankful for the rigidity
of Melicytus alpinus and the spines
of books. I write lines
over dreams since the day a puriri
caught in my throat. I am struck
by my lack—I dream of cats
my cat. We attached

when he was a hard-headed ball
of fluff in my hand; he looked up
with defenseless eyes, so I defend him
for dragging in rats
from the slope, and stoats with holes
in their throats—a gift. I take it
outside, but I’m careful
he does not see
my betrayal. I have a gift

for seeing what is different—
right from thrust upright,
as in tectonic plates—this fault
jolting the haves and have-nots
onto the streets below. Shaking
hands while in transit, I found
no warriors or migrants here, only
two sides to me, a creation
through cataclysmic division
I was taken from my natural mother

at birth. Like a kitten I bonded
with another family, I helped them find
the fluttering in their throats
and they gifted me
this place, somewhere between
pain and port

Gail Ingram
Ōtautahi Christchurch

❆ ❆ ❆

a handful of seeds on air

We saw it
round the world,
this moment of the
occupier on the
street, the soldier
in his uniform
with big gun
at the hip
to shoot the
way clear to Kiev
might have thought
this grandmother
was just being rightfully
thankful, coming
forward as if in
welcome, stuffing
with persistent fingers
a generous helping of
sunflower seeds into
his chest pocket, and
patting it down, his thinking
it so a foolish dream
, when
she explained matter
of factly that these
seeds would ensure
some good would come
of his dying there, helping
the earth come forth
in flower, and we saw
how this gesture was
the mark of a different
kind of warrior, the oldest
one of all who simply
will not submit, that
being their only

Peter Le Baige
Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

❆ ❆ ❆

The Ecstasy of St Theresa

Well this is different, for a small town protestant.,
but somehow reassuring about the Youth For Christ rallies.
The instant everything kicks off: boy angel’s
sly smile, slender spear poised for entry,
rumpled fabric at the Saint’s breast coyly lifted,
Cornaro menfolk gathered to ogle. Everything
rising, yeastily, as Simon Schama writes
including Theresa, deep in her dream
as in stone, worked up, thankful, levitating
to the exult of pain. She got herself here,
gave herself over, no help required,
blew the tiny sparks beyond understanding
into conflagration, a warrior beast for God.
The hardest thing to find is a subject,
Bernini said, reaching deep into
her thicket of justifications to grasp the nub,
lighting the spectacle with every trick.
No way to look with an innocent eye
- Schama again. Orgasm implied,
her ecstasy ours to try as angel, saint,
onlooker, creator. He’s turned her inside
out, made sure we all know, traded the garden
yet again for knowledge. Invite an audience
to view the rapture of the mind’s chapel,
if they light a candle, that’s on them.

Gillian Roach
Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

❆ ❆ ❆


Her hip was decidedly dickey
She was not as flexible as before
Various joints were complaining
She had trouble getting up from the floor

She was not as young as she was
Bits of her were definitely ageing
Inside she didn't feel any different
But the outside was certainly fading

So it was time to get some help
It was time to stop mucking around
Before her get up and go had gone
Some form of exercise had to be found

Yoga seemed the logical choice
She welcomed it with warm embrace
Soon she would feel twenty again
Dream on! If only that were the case

The poses were near on impossible
With names like ‘warrior’, ‘pigeon’ and ‘tree’
Every muscle she possessed rebelled
She desperately wanted to flee

Would anyone notice if she left?
Could she creep out the door unseen?
Thankful for a moments distraction
She speedily fled from the scene

So if she wasn't going to exercise
In order to be able to rise and shine
She was just going have to live with it
And drink a helluva lot of wine

Julie Draper
Waipu, Bream Bay, Northland

❆ ❆ ❆

Pervasive Apathy

I’m not an eco-warrior
I offer little help to ‘fix’ the world
No different from millions, others
thankful for distractions, distracted:
     Netflix and chocolate
     War, isolation
     Rising costs and a redundancy
     Ram raids, political promises
     The school-run, Instagram
     Physio, Chiro, the Podiatrist
     An exhibition, birthday plans
     A good sleep...

The basement floods again and
I dream of summers in the 70’s
organise insurance, repair services
complain to friends and family.
There’s nothing else for it.

Arwen Flowers
Helensville, Auckland

❆ ❆ ❆

If I were once to see with clarity

If I were once to see with clarity,
a different warrior, when—
the birth of justice, law and parity,
hinged not on swords, but pen—

Pen recording vaster dreams,
pen recording vote,
pen prescribing terms of peace…
contracting laws, denote…

not anarchy, violence, guns or bomb,
Thankful, we, that all along,
Literal minds in literacy,
Courteous hearts in synchrony,
Can lay down bullets, take up pen,
Can help devise solutions when
Compromise has some common place—
Ceding ground is no disgrace
If common good and common ground
Can more than once be sought and found…

How much better off are we,
if pen, not war, might set us free?
Empathy, pen and equal voice…
A better path
for sounder choice?

Hayley Solomon

❆ ❆ ❆


The dreams don’t help.
They remind you of different places
left behind in the river of time.
Returning to the world, blinking,
not sure whether to be thankful,
the screens overflow
with nightmares of their own:
sinister clowns, necromancers,
teenage warriors stumbling
to erasure in the hiss of static.

Victor Billot

❆ ❆ ❆

Deity descending

Earthbound, you came down in pale stabs
of light, feather footed you were
the shameless spirit of a young warrior
emboldened by sepia memories

                    a thousand years too young.

Where your heart used to be sparrows waltzed
to the rhythm of your burning breaths, but it was
a different tune now, too loud to fit
on the tip of your tongue.

And so, the stars dissolved into a clouded haze &
there was nothing I could do to help but drink
the sunlight from your skin & listen to the suck
& slide of a single vanished summer.

You rebelled, your words a turquoise chill against
the fearsome flames of an unpolished world
you loved so much but others did not care for &

the weight of their dreams carried the salt silently
stinging your winter wounds.

Enough, you said, your last words rusty blooms
against the cold slap of an ancestral wind that clung
to my hair—

                    fragile broken things they were, thankful
                    for a safe place against the oncoming tide.

Kim Martins

❆ ❆ ❆

Gracias a Dios

Help came from Honduran girls as words,
handpicked, like ripening fruit, held
between their fingers on A4 card,
voiced in brisk Latina tones. A different
year might yield a different crop from a different
piece of Earth. Imagine, for instance, words
proceeding from Rapa Nui moai. What
would they utter, and in what warrior tongue?
I am thankful for every word in every
tongue—hebraic, dravidic, turkic, ugric,
verbs, nouns, hybrids, compounds, articles
and particles. When one day I wake to learn
I've dreamt in Matagalpa, I will thank God
with palms upturned as if receiving rain.

Mark Edgecombe
Tawa, Wellington

❆ ❆ ❆

Hello Miss!

I dream of you sometimes
Carefree, tall, different from the rest
Standing at the edge of Trevi fountain
Tossing coins over your shoulder
For a promise of return

You turned quickly, watched them sink down
Beneath surface-rippling spouts of acqua blue
To rest below the reflection
Of ancient warrior marbled feet

I’m thankful for times spent with you
When this lions roar-like world seemed tame
Before those global pandemic times
And senseless, destructive Ukraine war crimes

You pushed help across the borderlines!
‘Being not completely useless’, you said
Now it seems you’re lost for words
A sinister long-distance silencing of voice

Yet from my antipodean memory rises two
Whispered seductively close some heady years ago
Once upon a Roman god-like loving time, you said…
'Hello Miss!'

June Pitman-Hayes

❆ ❆ ❆

Leaving home

From the thick plastic window we see
a patchwork quilt of paddocks
and the sky pegged out like a sheet
left on the line in the rain.
Our plane is a small warrior
sea birds help it along by dreaming
but we're thankful because this world is
in the same place we left it.
Bush-clad plains blur to deep green
laid out like cloth on a wood table.
The Strait is a sinkful of dirty dishes
that rocky shore is just a different kind
of crumpled blanket
with satin edge.

Melissa Wastney

❆ ❆ ❆


From sleep
The trio held a dream
                      into their stirring

           embraced the cloying taste of honey
           thankful for freesia’s sweet scent
           smarted from a bee’s sting

So, each rose to the day
                      With different expectations

Unfulfilled yearning for seduction yet to come
           Eager anticipations for an early spring
                      The need for warrior armour to help
defend from the insect world—

                                 hedonists and optimists

Sue Barker

❆ ❆ ❆

Matariki is
It is not what Papatuanuku can do for you
But what you can do to help Papatuanuku

The pressure of our hands upon the earth
laying a predatory cat to rest under a thankful kohekohe seedling
chickens nesting a clutch of fertile eggs
your eyes full of the long summer
amongst the warrior trees flexing in the changing wind
when we walk down the road
as a different shade of sky folds over
and the blue distance draws near shadows
of clouds over the oceans heart
beating with the velocity of our dreams
and certain rivers swollen by misfortune
accelerating towards tipping points
with the scent of history lingering
like the fires of discontent
when we know everything is global, everything
in the turbid flux of slow falling fine humid rain

Piet Nieuwland

❆ ❆ ❆

starved by socials

we were the girls who were starved
of love                 of touch                 of cake

especially cake

we survived on rabbit food
did you know a cucumber is 96% water?

we survived on water

the side of a plant furthest from the sun elongates its cells
so the plant droops
                towards the sun
                                towards sustenance

we could not reach what we needed
so our teeth and tongues grew
                towards love        touch       cake
                                             towards sustenance

the plant cannot undo the drooping
                even when it has had enough sun

we could not keep each other at arm’s length
                even when our kisses left puncture marks

we dreamt
of love                 of touch of cake
as if it would help our cravings
ease our
but woke up to our hearts                 skin                 stomaches
digesting themselves

but at least my collarbones
make my instagram posts sexier

we were the daughters of underfed warrior women
never thankful for the intergenerational hunger
that was our birthright

we become insatiable women
filling the gaps between our ribs with words
sisters with starving souls
and bleeding hickeys
and killer captions
we become living shades

what makes us different to the dead ones?
gluttony’s a sin, so
hell has       so       much       cake

Harshitha Murthy
Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

❆ ❆ ❆

Given Poems – National Poetry Day 2022 – Under-16s

Here is our selection of the entries for Best Poem by Under-16s for the Given Words competition for National Poetry Day. They all had to include the following five words: help, different, warrior, thankful and dream.

You can read the winning poem Doubt by Saphra Peterson along with the judge's comments here and the poems from the adults' category here.

❆ ❆ ❆

Counting a sunshine of sheep

A sea of kelp
Dreaming herds
Different sheep
Sunray burn
Bend then leap
Onto the hill
I wade in deep
I swim my will
Against the heat
A warrior girl
Ice cream peace
Is what I yearn
Sat on the seat
Thankful words
Help achieved

Elissa Piao, aged 14

❆ ❆ ❆

Crazy dreams

I have dreams that keep me awake at night
I have dreams that fill my head with spears
Cloud warriors stealing blankets from beds,
thankful to fly high In the sky
but unable to travel
from cloud to cloud
so they make blanket sleds
I have dreams, very different dreams,
featuring tin sheds
with arms and legs, helping leaves
in garbage heaps.

Elsie Knowles, aged 10

❆ ❆ ❆

fragile courage

trampled amaranth flowers
fragment the forest floor
the snow bleaching them different shades
stark dreams of death

a russet rabbit labours
over the cracked, dry lips
of a fallen tree
a warrior in its own right

thankful for the kārearea’s cry,
the ‘kek kek’
that reshapes into ‘survive’
helping the hunted—
the rabbit lopes on

Priya Bartlett, aged 13

❆ ❆ ❆

Wandering warriors in China

Warriors wander
through the land.
Always there,
a helping hand.
Shimmering armour
like a dream.
A helmet
with a silver gleam.
Thankful villages left
far behind
for different warriors
to find.

Molly Bruce, aged 11

❆ ❆ ❆

From Russia to Aotearoa

I dream of a place, far away.
Where one can rest, relax and be safe.
Some wish of a place like me.
Those are people of need, hoping for help from the world:
Those suffering from the pain of war, poverty, and violence.
But people are different.
Some people wish to be a warrior, wreaking havoc upon the world.
New Zealand is that safe place for me.
Where I can rest on a New Zealand beach, hear the
waves roll over, feel the coarse sand rub against my leg.
Or I can walk past the monumental, lush, and green
trees while standing on top of a New Zealand Mountain.
I can smell the moist ground and can hear the birds sing.
Change always comes, but one thing that never changes.
Is my place, my home, New Zealand.
And I am very, very thankful to be here

Anthony Kutovoy, aged 14

❆ ❆ ❆

Warriors on bikes fighting up spectacular mountain roads
Picturesque views the TV screen doesn’t make look any less spectacular
The speed they reach on the fast descents makes viewers hearts stop
The raw power they achieve sprinting to be the first over the line
The horrific crashes that are always different from the next
The sound of the fans on the roadside, thankful for the opportunity to experience the race, drama like fireworks
The rays of sunlight on the Champs Elysees down the tree lined avenue
The collapse at the finish line, the help they need to walk afterwards
The best raising their hands in the air
The Tour de France
My dream

Will Crawford, aged 14

❆ ❆ ❆

Days at the Beach

my mother picks up
cans and empty bottles
from the shoreline
as carefully as a baby

the gulls help
with the housework
gobbling scraps
sandwiches / pizza / chips

they still dream
of a lowered cooling sea
so different from
what there is now

the sea / the shoreline
the waves / the birds
warriors in the sky

at sunset
we wash our
gritty surfboards

returning sand
to the thankful sea

Zoe Sullivan, aged 15

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Boy and Grasshopper

her clicking sound
no different from any other
leaping bounding
dreaming through
the cutty grass of Aotearoa
a warrior sliding
down the harakeke
down the silver ferns

a boy
a glass in one hand
paper in the other
a roaring grin
deadly eyes

under the glass

at first she panics
racing round
the rim of the glass
she grows tired
wilting in the moisture
sorrowful eyes

she dreams the day she will be free

the boy sees her panic
her grief her pain

he lifts the glass
she limps away
thankful for this day

Emma Geddes, aged 12

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Floating up into the frosty air my crane paints the Aotearoa sky.
My crane is a warrior fighting for survival.
My crane is the sea creating currents and waves.
My crane is a memory that will not go away.
My crane is the wind creating tornadoes and hurricanes.
My crane is different but still flies with tuis.
My crane is an artist painting pictures in my mind.
My crane is fire, keeping me warm. My crane is a dream floating in my head.
My paper crane slowly drifts off the bay out to sea.
I am thankful because my crane is my saviour.
My crane flies over Mount Aoraki and past the Waikato river.
My crane helps like a friend.
My crane is one of a kind.

Mia Tucker, aged 10

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I want him back


He had jumped to the ground,
and was lying there,
with his arms over the back of his head.

It was just a thunder storm,
but my dad was a warrior in WW 2.
Even a car backfiring sent him
dropping to the floor.

No matter how thankful
everyone was for his service
he still regrets
that dream he had of going
to war to help save the world.

He is different now.
The war changed my dad.

I want that man who raised me back.

Georgia Lewis, aged 13

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Mt Hutt

Bush land scatters across the entrance to the mountain
Birds chirping, little warriors withstanding the cold, splashing of water in the nearby creak
The cool fresh breeze brushes past my face as I pull on my boots
Touching the snow, it's as fluffy as a marshmallow
Endless queues, chatter of people, humming of cars coming up the hill
At the top, everything is seen from the different angle
The Rakaia River to the left, the Pacific ocean out in the horizon, small doll like towns on the plains
It's a dream being up there
Help of the trails you'll gradually make your way down
Reaching the café
The strong aroma of hot chocolate, fish 'n' chips and pizza fill the air
I am so thankful for Mt Hutt being right in my backyard

Chloe Lowe, aged 13

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Dear Grandpa,

How are you Grandpa?
I always dream about you
You were always as cheerful as a rainbow
Everyone thinks of you
Everyone is thankful for your help
You where such a great man
You where an amazing warrior
Life is so different without you
I miss you
I love you

Emily Brook, aged 13

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She dances
Beside the Avon River
Songs of the Tui
Now silent

She dances
Helping the river
Whisper its secrets

Underneath the moonlight
She sings her love
For her father

Confident, loving
Brave, strong

So thankful for all he gave
She twirls under the stars

Memories of being swung
In his grasp
Now only a dream

Now a wounded warrior
No longer near

Life for her now
So different

Her rain-soaked hair
As she spins

Every night she dances
Every night she sings to him
Waiting for an answer

Chloe Drinkwater, aged 12

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Garden of little roses

moonlight dusts the garden
different species ready for the night
daises tuck in
trees cast shadow blankets
grass sways softly
deep in slumber

just beyond the garden gate
encasing the life inside
dust runs on the road
midnight creatures rise

scared faces glance to the sky
searching for the guidance of lights
silent whimpers echo
calling for help

little roses awaken
the warriors of night
leaving behind a peaceful dream

raising their heads
to the current of the wind
petals fly
landing in a trail

guiding thankful hearts to the garden

the garden of little roses

Serena Mackle, aged 12

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Drifting in the fields
Long grass thankful for a gentle wind
As forget-me-nots dance below
A warrior lies in a moss bed
Created near the kowhai roots
Dreaming of new worlds
Not waking to watch the wind
Help the graceful tui fly away
Soft footsteps patter
Across the well-trodden dirt
As his family visits
his different type of home

Amelia Finlay-Smits, aged 11

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A Better Place

The ocean waves spread over the old ship docks,
making me thankful that I’m in my warm house.
I press my face close to the window so that I can see the night sky,
dreaming about how our world could be a better place
filled with more plants and more life.
Not everyone has to be a warrior and hide their fears.
I know it's time for me to sleep
but I feel like I could help the world so much more.
I quietly walk up our wooden stairs, trying not to wake my family.
In my bed I feel so different from the rest of the world.
Lucky. Safe.

Olivia Paton, aged 12

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The dog

After hours of running through New Zealand’s best forest
He sees a slow flowing river
This river is different to all the others
He jumps into the water like a warrior going into battle
The water sounds just like drums.
Filled with happiness he climbs out of the cold loud river
Rolling in the mud that doesn’t help make him clean
This is the dream this is the life he wants
He’s a thankful dog.

Luca Rose, aged 13

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