On being the Writer in Residence at Fairburn School in South Auckland

For the past six days I have been the Writer in Residence at Fairburn School in South Auckland.

What an extra special experience – there are so many fabulous things I could share but here are fourteen things I loved about working in this school.



The teachers, the librarians and the management team are so supportive. What a warm, friendly, inspiring bunch of people. It makes a big difference when you are a guest.



The children are warm and friendly and are prepared to give things a go. Whenever I walked through the playground, it seemed like hundreds of children came running up, saying ‘Hello Paula Green’ with big smiles. So welcoming.



I love the way the children joined in when we made up poems in the hall. I did three sessions and each time the hall buzzed with poetry.

Here is one poem we made up (inspired by a very foggy Auckland Monday morning – my first drive to the school).


Out of the Fog

Out of the fog the icy grass

Out of the fog the blackbirds squawking

Out of the fog the blue grey mountains

Out of the fog the white dog barking

Out of the fog the moving shadows

Out of the fog the humans walking

Out of the fog the hedgehogs crawling.




I love the way some classes went off and wrote poems after my interactive performances.  Room 19 not only went away and wrote poems but performed at the Family Sharing Day on Friday. Such vivid language. Such ocean pictures growing in my mind as I listened. Every poem was a gem but here are four of them.

photo 1 photo 3 photo

photo 2



I loved the way the New Entrant class left the hall and made up a poem that they performed on the Family Sharing Day. They stood on stage in a long line, in front of the audience, and each child said their line. What courage. And they said their lines so beautifully.


Kids play outside (Isaac)

Kids like to skate (Ernett)

Kids play in  mud (Talita)

Kids can put their boots on (Drae)


Kids have hair (Aisea)

Kids can cook (Ryan)

Kids can hide (Jasmeet)

Kids can learn (Yogyeta)


Kids like to read (Triansha)

Kids can sit (Juelz)

Kids can swim (Neti)

Kids like shopping (Shresti)

Kids love toys (Sueao)


Kids can laugh (Coco)

Kids are big and strong (Izhaan)

Kids are Superheroes (Koni)




I did a wild-card workshop with 16 children from Y2 to Y6 who have stretching imaginations and a love of words. We did picture poems but it was pretty hard going through all stages and finishing the poems in one hour. I like picture poems to look good but also sound good so you play with reading them out loud! This is great way to jam with words.

I loved the way Otile brought back her finished poem to show me! I especially like way she made a windy rain cloud and a heavy rain cloud.




I loved seeing a hen walking to school one morning and getting an idea for a poem. I wondered what class it was going to visit. It remind me of my ‘Peacock is Over the Moon’ poem in my book Flamingo Bendalingo!

photo 1




I loved reading the poems that Y5 and 6 had displayed in the hall and discovering some children had written about the visiting poet (me!). I laughed at the line ‘Mad Hatter actions’ in this poem. Wonderful! So I am like a Mad Hatter! Just the poetry surprise I love.

photo 2



I loved being interviewed by a bunch of budding journalists (Anna, Solomone, John and Orla) with the help of Mr Choong (he had great ideas and such energy!).

When the video is posted on YouTube I will post a link. The group has put a lot of work into the interview. My favourite question was to think up three words to sum up poetry or my poetry career (play, music, joy).



All week I worked with sixteen Year 2 students doing writing. Wow! Such poetry buzzing and steaming in the room. Ears and eyes were working hard. Sad to say goodbye.


The Tree

My tree is a

strawberry tree.

Cats crawl in

my tree.

Owls hoot in

my tree. Birds chirp

in my tree. My tree

is thin.

My tree sways and

makes a lot of noise.



The Sun

Blazing fiery yellow

sun sizzles, Matariki stars

shine bright on us.

Tiger hot blazing

sun, sparkly shining

hot sun.




I worked with twenty Year 3/4 students all week — hunting for words, playing with words on the line, building images, using ears. The room was popping and simmering with poems. Sad to finish!



Birds flying high

flapping and diving


In the night

peeking out windows


Searching for birds

I look for


tui  every time.

Nardia Y3


The Sky

Eclipses star moon

black orangish yellow,

and covered clouds

white sun sinking.


Seagulls, fantails and


taking food

chirping drifting,


diving and flying

pictures of clouds

in slow motion.

Jashvir Y4


My Tree

He has dark green

tree leaves

wsssshh   wsssshhh   wooh   wooh

from the tree,

and the owl sleeping.


I told people

to stop hurting Max.

He grows me plenty of apples

for lunch.

I love Max

and he loves

me his

secret is he’s happy

every time

I’m around.






I worked with twenty Y5/6 students for six days. Words went flying, eyes went searching, imaginations soared, ears listened to the music on the line. Wonderful! It was sad to say goodbye.


Spring Evening

Dim misty moon

big bright blossom

rosy red rose

ripe red apple

green grass growing

rosy red robin

big bonfire

beautiful twilight moon.

Jordan Y5


Spring Bees

Bees harvesting nectar

buzzing bees flying

following orders.

Making honey

dodging spiders

fierce fighters.

Flying in blue skies

watching humans play

flying by.

Allerton Y5



Flowers grow

into sunflower petals

on top

of the dark

brown soil.



The Forever Tree

Tall weak tree, branches

swaying, leaves falling,

skins cracking, crows sitting

on dead branches.

Reminds me

of a tree upside

down that will

never ever talk again.





I was so surprised and delighted when a Junior class performed James K Baxter’s whale poem in the hall (it’s in The Treasury of NZ Poetry for Children and one of my favourite Baxter poems) . The class recited it beautifully and we all gasped when up popped the big black whale with the flicking tail. Genius!

The Family Sharing Day was a spectacular day and I adored all the plays and poems  – the classes had worked so hard to celebrate Oral Language Term! I especially loved the way old stories became new stories. What a great idea this was.



I loved the way the whole school glowed with poetry. I drove home on Monday afternoon (yesterday)  (Day Six) and felt full of delicious poems. Wonderful. More than that though, I glowed with the way this very special school had welcomed me into their whanau.


t h a n k  y o u

x P a u l a




1 thought on “On being the Writer in Residence at Fairburn School in South Auckland

  1. Frances Neslon

    Wow, thanks for being part of our Fairburn Whanau Paula. It’s been a great week (or so) and we loved having you here writing with us, reading with us and encouraging us in our work.


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