Category Archives: NZ Author

My good news (the secret is out, young poetry fans)!


Paula Green, Peter Simpson (photo: Marti Friedlander), Witi Ihimaera


Dear young poetry fans

I had to keep a secret for ages! But I just wanted to let you know I have been awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Poetry – and yes! that includes my children’s poetry.


You have been such an important part of my poetry adventures – so it is a perfect time to say thank you. I love the way you take on my challenges and spark with poetry when I visit schools. I am always inspired by the poems you send me.

Once I have handed my big book to my publisher next year I will be able to come and visit classes again. I have missed it but I am writing every day at the moment.

The good news is I have finished my next collection Groovy Fish. I used the titles I collected from you on my Hot Spot Poetry Tour. Now I am doing black and white drawings to go with the poems which is fun.


Witi Ihimaera got the award for fiction and Peter Simpson got the award for nonfiction.

Very exciting and very special and my legs shook all day when I found out.


You can read about the award winners here.

I do hope you try my August challenge on Poetry Box.


And on Poetry Day I might show you one of my new poems and new drawings!


Warm regards


Toitoi 8 for young writers is now out – a great opportunity for Primary and Intermediate ages

This is a terrific place for young writers and artists to send work – Primary School and Intermediate ages!

Check out the latest issue so you feel inspired to send in work to the next one. Or get invited to illustrate!

I think the cover is magnificent!



We are delighted to introduce Toitoi 8! Congratulations to 10-year-old Isabella Lee on her fantastic cover illustration. Check out more of her work in the story “Can Kiwis Fly?” by Frederieke Beekmans, age 11, on page 60.


Get your copy of the journal at here.



Poetry Box July Challenge (holiday and school): Other shoes

Just gave you a few more days – but try this challenge in the holidays



The June challenges almost broke my email box I received so many poems which was

f    a   b   u   l   o   u   s !

I loved reading them all, and did feel a little bit sad I couldn’t share them all.


This month I want you to get your imagination      b o u n c i n g

because I want you to imagine you are someone or something else in your poem!


HOT TIP: Before you start writing collect a page of words and details to PLAY with in your poem.


Imagining someone else

You might be a real person from HISTORY so you might need to do some research to get some clues about the person and what life was like when they lived.

You might like to write as though you are a CHARACTER from a book you love. Show them in a different light doing something different that didn’t make it into the book. Or replay something that did.

You might like to invent a person   …. your own CHARACTER! Use strong detail to make your character come alive in your poem.


Imagining you are a thing

Try writing a poem as though you are a rugby ball or a vacuum cleaner or a clock or a computer or a rocket or a bicycle or an old sofa  …..  OR YOU CHOOSE!


Some poetry tips

Don’t send me the poem the day you write it. Let it sit for at least a day then read it out loud. This is what I do.

Play with the order of words.

Play with how many words you put on the line.

Show things in your poem to do with your character or object –  NOUNS!

Show action – your character or object doing things. (if it fits)

You might like to have your character SAY things.

You can either write an I or He or She poem  (I seem to be running slow, he is so tall he can get the apples off the tree, she can fly like a Haast eagle)

Think about the title of your poem.

Try three DIFFERENT endings, then pick your favourite.



Send to by 30th July. I will post some favourites on 1st August and have a book for at least one reader.

Please include your name, age, year and name of school. I won’t post poems if I don’t have these details.

IMPORTANT:  Put OTHER SHOES challenge in the subject line of the email please.




Poetry Box June challenge: poems on writing poems went wildfire

My challenge to get you to write poems about writing poems went WILDFIRE ! I got so many in my email box. I have loved reading them all and it took ages and ages. If I didn’t write you a letter back I might have missed your email so let me know.

I got fabulous poems from classes – from Westmere School, from the Samoan Unit at Richmond Road School and from Te Rerenga School in The Coromandel.

What you showed me is poems can do anything.  There are no poem rules! Poetry is PLAY!

And when you read a poem you get to think and feel all kinds of things!

Thank you young poets. This is a record post because it was just too hard choosing. I had to leave heaps of poems I loved out because my blog would CRASH with a MOUNTAIN of amazing poems.


I am sending a copy of my book  The Letterbox Cat to Jimmy at Westmere School.



Daniel wrote his poem in the sand! (age 8, Year 4, Adventure School)


Writing Poems

Poems can be as BIG as
an elephant or as small
as a fly. Poems don’t have
to make any sense, they
don’t even need to rhyme.

By Marco age 9, Westmere School


The Poem About a Poem

Poems can erupt out of your mouth
like an exploding volcano.
Poems can make you drift away to sleep
like a cosy blanket.

By Charlie  age 9, Westemere School


The Poem Train

An idea finds the paper

Like a car finds the road.

The pencil

Dances across the page

Like a ballerina

On a stage.

The full stops are like train stops

Ending the ride

But starting a new one.

By: William Sherborne Age: 9 Year: 5, St Andrews College, Christchurch


What Poems Can DO

Poems can go through your head
Like a stampede
at full speed.
Like a worm wriggling
through a muddy hole.
Like a mole



By Jimmy age 10, Westmere School

Catch the Kite

The ideas fly
in the sky
with the Haast eagle.

They twitch and they turn
they tumble and learn.

They fall like blossom
into the arms of a possum.

Who brings them to me
on his bended knee.

and I write
the stretched out

Joshua 12 years old Medbury School




My pencil is going blunt
As I write down my ideas like a hurricane
Where will this poem go?
To a forest,
To a wonderland,
I will never know till I write it.
The word chain is getting started
My poem is making sense.
Finally, it’s coming together
I need to proof-read it
Reading it over and over again
Punctuation check has not been done
Taking my time
Hours have been used
I love the feeling of my tired fingers writing away.
My library chair getting uncomfortable.
My poem digs to my heart as quick as Usain Bolt runs the 100m sprint
But it’s

Sophie, age: 10, Selwyn House School


Poems make me want to…

Poems make me want to dance
And skip and jump and play
Poems make me want to sing
And read them every day

Writing them is like
Unfolding a mystery
And everything about them
Makes me feel free

Poems make me want to dance
And skip and jump and play
Poems make me want to sing
And read them every day

Poems make me want to laugh
And have a lot of fun
And I will always remember them
When the day is done

Nell, Age: 8, Year: Four, Homeschool



Poems can be funny like David walliams.
Poems can be sad like a depressed lad.
A poem could happy like a baby in a clean nappy.
Poems can be mad like your step dad.
Poems can be silly like a fish with arms.
Poems can be hairy like a dairy.
Poems can be evil like a vampire.
Poems can be boring and make you start snoring.
Poems can be annoying like pinata with no candy in it.
Poems can be violent like nine eleven.
Poems can be crazy like a lazy man made run a mile.

By Henry  age 10, Westmere School


Mind Blank

I am currently writing a poem
Well, I am trying to
I don’t think it’s working,
I am trying to write something completely original
Today that’s just not happening,
Hmm, maybe…
Beyond the horizon?
No, too dull
Oh, I know!
Feel the wind blow
Ugh, everyone’s used that
This is useless
I am absolutely, one hundred percent stuck

Megan, Year 6, age 10, St Andrew’s College


Some Poems

Some poems explode like the big bang.
Some poems crack like an egg shell.
Some poems slither out of my mouth like a person sliding down a water slide.
Some poems are as quiet as a library… shhhhhhhhh
Some poems are as tricky and confusing as 15,376 divided by 6.39.
Some poems help you as much as a girl helping an old lady across the road.
All poems are from around the world.
Some poems are as fast as a cheetah
or as slow
as a

By Renee C, age 10, Westmere School



Poems can be long,
Poems can be short.
Poems can be beautiful,
Poems can be bored.
Poems can be mad,
Poems can be glad.

By Layla age 9, Westmere School


The Best Poem

Poems pop playfully through my brain
like popcorn popping out of a plane.
Poems CRASH and MASH in my head
like a racing fire, spreading red.
Poems creep and peep on the page
like a rat sneaking out of its cage.

By Flynn W age 9, Westmere School

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Isabella, age 10, Westmere School


A Poem

A poem … can paint a scene in your head.

It makes you feel you’re in a world of paradise

A poem lights a fire deep inside you.

A poem changes a caterpillar into a butterfly.

Elijah Year 4, Te Rerenga School in The Coromandel


The Magic of a Poem

A poem can open a magical world for you, it can make you happy or sad.

Poems can rhyme, shock you, even make you say why, some leave you to laugh or cry.

A poem can make you like a snowflake, soft and light, it can make you someone running on the beach, happy and hot.

A poem can do so many things, but it can always do one thing.

It can always make you relax.


By Charlie  Year 5, Te Rerenga School in The Coromandel


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Jackson, age 10, Westmere School



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Ruby, age: 9, Selwyn House School



Poets are agile
in their own way
their hand slides
across the page
or keyboard
as a stream
of ideas
flow through
their heads
the poets work
waiting to be published
on the next website
or poetry magazine

Harry, age 10, St Andrew’s College




Pen glides across the page
Ideas pop in
More words across the page
A rhythm starts going
Rub out a line
Start over new
Read it
Check it
Good enough to get through
Sharpen up the pencil
Get a cup of water
Grip more onto the pencil
As it gets shorter
More words across the page
Add the finishing touches
Shut the book
Close the door
One more poem has been made

Hayden, age 11, St Andrew’s College



A Poem is a Living Thing

A poem is a waterfall
gushing, slushing
forever changing.
It runs
it leaps
it soars
it flies
it laughs
it cries.
A poem is a living thing.

By Isabel  age 10, Westmere School



A Poem Can

A poem can be as vicious as a terrifying tiger
or as beautiful as a butterfly fluttering by.
It can be as fast as a cheetah having a blast
or as slow as a snail sliding past.
A poem can twist
a poem can turn.
A poem can freeze
a poem can burn.
A poem can be anything in the world
as long as you use the right words.

By Jamie C age 10, Westmere School



Rhythm and Rhymes

Words coming out of my brain
goes around and around like a hurricane.
Verbs fly like they rage.
Verbs trapped in a cage
roar like
a lion.
Birds fly
like an
Light shines

By Kingston age 8, Samoan Unit, Richmond Road School


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By Philipp, age 9, Samoan Unit, Richmond Road School

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By Alani age 9, Samoan Unit, Richmond Road School



Poems are tricky and
Poems are hard, but
Poems are nice like
my palm poems.

By Jada L age 9, Samoan Unit, Richmond Road School


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Boh, age 10, Westmere School



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Charlie, age 9, Westmere School


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By Dante age 10, Samoan Unit, Richmond Road School



The Life of You and Me

Poems are swirling around my head like a hurricane.
Poems are tricky
Poems are hard,
They sometimes go a little bit fast.
Poems are sometimes scary
or sometimes funny.
They can make you say words that are verbs.
My life is a crime every day.
My poems come out of my mouth the same way.

By Nani age 10, Samoan Unit Westmere School


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Stina, Year 5, Te Rerenga School in The Coromandel


A Poem

A poem can make you feel like a magic dolphin playing and splashing.

It will take you in to wonderland

Or slide you down a rainbow.

A poem can open the door or reality, it will take you into the world of beyond.

It will smile at you when you read it.

It can toss you up into the clouds and draw a pattern in your head.

It can show you your own world and it will tell you your own story.


Julia Year 4, Te Rerenga School in The Coromandel


A poem can open a window in your mind that leads you into a new magical new world.

A poem makes you feel as light as a snow white feather, drifting in the wind.

A poem gives you inspiration to do what you want to do.

A poem can remind you of a special memory buried deep down inside of you.

A poem can show you that anything is possible if you try hard enough.

Poems are capable of so many things…

By Ellie  Year 5, Te Rerenga School in The Coromandel

Two June Challenges: Poetry parcels and Joy Cowley’s Snake and Lizard

Welcome young poetry fans  – I am so so so so so busy this year I am a day late. I am thinking hard and writing hard about what poetry can do.  So that inspired my first challenge.


Challenge One:


Poems can do and play and puzzle with so many things.

Poems can sound as good as a song.

Poems can build lists and make pictures grow in your head.

Poems can whizz or go slow.

They might surprise or soothe or shock or challenge you. You might laugh

or frown or cry as you read.

They can be short or long like a letter or a huge birthday parcel.


Your challenge is to write a poem about:     Poetry – writing poems or reading poems .


What are poems like to you? What do you love about poems?

What do they remind you of? Where do you read them or write them?

Find some good VERBS for what a poem DOES.

Find some sizzling SIMILES.


Send to by 26th JUNE. I will post some favourites on JUNE 30th and have a copy of the book for one reader.

Include your name, age, year and name of school.

IMPORTANT: Put POEM POETRY challenge in the subject line of the email please.



Challenge Two



I am a HUGE fan of Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop and I especially love their Snake and Lizard books.


So on a very wet Sunday afternoon I gobbled up the new one: Helper and Helper.


Gavin’s illustrations are sheer beauty.

Joy’s stories are warm and wise and witty. Her sentences are like clear shiny streams.


Snake and Lizard are full to the brim with life and show us the power of friendship. Being friends is bumps and hills and new days and arguments and listening and kindness and discoveries.

When I read these stories I fill with warmth and good feelings and just want to write poems or even give stories a go.


a n o t h e r   c h a l l e n g e

I LOVE LOVE LOVE these stories so much I am challenging you to write a ‘Snake and Lizard’ poem (You can do more than one!). Read the book first to get inspired by the characters. Make up what happens. It can be something very small and curious.

I have the book to give to one young poet thanks to GECKO PRESS.


 Send to by 26th JUNE. I will post some favourites on JUNE 30th and have a copy of the book for one reader.

Include your name, age, year and name of school.

IMPORTANT:  Put SNAKE and LIZARD challenge in the subject line of the email please.



The April-May Challenge – some favourite Autumn poems


Lots of Autumn poems tumbled into my email box and it felt like it was full of Autumn flavours and colours. I liked the way you tried different things as you wrote. It was hard choosing but here is a selection of poems I enjoyed (and there were so many more!).

There are thoughtful poems and funny poems. Slender poems and fat poems.

I am sending Emily C a copy of The Letterbox Cat as I really liked the way she worked on an Autumn series and tried different things. I have posted just a few she sent me. I am also sending a copy to Matilda at Westmere School as her poem made me smile. I loved the way she explored the word ‘spread.’ That is exactly what poets do!



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Emily C, age 12, Year 8, Selwyn House School, Christchurch



Fiery, orange
leaves cover
the rich,
grass. A
monarch butterfly
flutters through
the morning air.

Emily C, age: 12, Year: 8, Selwyn House School, Christchurch


The cold
morning air
stings my
toes. An
old man
wanders through
the park
covered in
autumn leaves.

Emily C, age: 12, Year: 8, Selwyn House School, Christchurch



The Autumn Kitten


The autumn kitten

Leaves trails of fur,

Orange and red

Through green and brown.

The autumn kitten

Roams free in the world

Here and there, everywhere.

Avoiding all people

Here and there.

Darting through bushes

Pouncing on birds.


Teresa aged 8, St Andrews College, Christchurch


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Luella, age 10 Richmond Road School Samoan Unit


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Maisy T, age 9, Fendalton School, Christchurch


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Aaron K age:9  Fendalton Open-air School





A bundle of poems from Westmere School:


leaves fall
crunch, crunch, crunch.
Rake up all the leaves.
Bikes and shoes
rush through.

Sofia Age 10 LS6


A tree spreads its branches
An apple spreads its seeds.
A person spreads their apple jam,
What more can you spread?

Matilda Age 9 LS6


I have a pumpkin on my bed.
My sister has carrots on her head.
My mum has feijoas in her bag.
My dad fed an apple to  his stag.
What an Autumn feast it could have been!

Matilda Age 9 LS6


Leaves and Trees

Green leaves
Crunchy leaves
Yellow leaves
Round leaves
Square leaves
Oval leaves
Small leaves
Sunset leaves
Big leaves
Giant leaves
Thin leaves
Thick leaves
Bush leaves
Long leaves
Short leaves
Brown trees
Large trees
Huge trees
Teeny tiny trees
Dead trees
Oak trees
Flame trees
Coconut trees
Apple trees
Gum trees
Feijoa trees
Lemon trees
Orange trees
Palm trees
Swamp trees
Grey trees
Leaves and trees!

Jasper Age 10 LS6 and Jamie Age 10 LS6



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Archie Age 10 LS6


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Indigo K and Rita P Both Age 10 LS7