Category Archives: NZ Children’s poetry

Poetry Box October tree poem challenge


Tāne Mahuta, the giant kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest, Northland


I love reading poems with trees in them. I love looking at the trees out side and we have a lot because we live in a big clearing in the bush in the country. We can see the tail end of the Waitākere Ranges from our place. We don’t go into the ranges now because we want to give the kauri the best possible chance to survive.

I have set a tree poem challenge for October – and you still have time! So here is a refresh for you after the holidays!

I don’t read the poems and your letters until the end of the month and then I always reply!


Some tips

It might be a New Zealand native tree you especially love.

You might go out and take a photo or do a drawing that you send with your poem.

Your poem might bring the tree to life with strong detail

or it might tell a tree story

or a tree memory you have

or a concern you have.

Use your eyes to hunt for fascinating things.

Use your imagination to hunt for fresh similes.

You might like to play with how you set your poem out.


Send to:

Deadline: Friday October 28th

Please include: your name, age, year and name of school

So I don’t miss it: Put tree poem in subject line

Some favourite poems inspired by Inside the Villains book



I so loved Inside the Villains by Clotilde Perrin (Gecko Press, 2018) I created a holiday popUP poem challenge for you.  Gemma and Daniel had friends over so spent a couple of hours coming up with villain poems and ‘rolling round on the floor in hysterics’.

I loved reading these and laughed out loud! These poems step off from fairy-tale villains and have fun. I loved the wit and playfulness.

I am sending a copy of the book to Gemma and Daniel.

You might like to try my October poetry tree challenge



The Stepmonster

So many years

Wasted in front of a mirror

Never seeing what was really there


Her heart is black

A rotten apple

Decay runs through her veins


If rose tinted glasses

Had covered her green eyes

She might have had her own happy ending


Gemma, Age 12 Year 8 Adventure School



The One Big Wolf

There once was a wolf with a cold

Who came to a house made of mould

The smell made him sneeze

And a big sudden breeze

Made the house fall down ‘coz it was old


Daniel Age 10 Year 5 Adventure School



Troll under the bridge

Wants food but there is no fridge

What about a goat?


Layla Age 12 Year 8 Tawa Intermediate


Fairy Tales

I don’t like fairy tales

They don’t have fairies or tails

The villages seem lacking in jails

And the villains are usually males


Ryan Age 12 Adventure School


The Farmer’s Wife

A shining knife

A final polish

A lift to the block

A glimpse

A fright

The knife takes flight

Reflecting sun

Blinds 3-2-1

Mice stop

And the knife?




By Gemma and Daniel


Poor Wolfy

There once was a wolf in the wood

Who found Little Red Riding Hood

He wanted a friend

But alas, in the end

She thought he was up to no good.


By the Fab 5


The Big Bad Wolf

Three little pigs

Build on my land

I tell them to stop

I’ve got something planned


They look at me funny

And say “how ‘bout no?”

They offer me money

I say, “please, just go.”


But they build on and so

It makes me get mad

‘Til I huff and I blow



Well, the rest is history isn’t it

(and I am sad).

Gemma, Age 12 Year 8 Adventure School


Rainbow Six Witch

There once was a witch

Who played Rainbow Six

She mained twitch

And liked to rage quit

On defence she’s a roamer

And shoots mainly droners

Once she mained Ash…

But it made her computer crash.


James Age 13 Year 8 Adventure School


Grovewood Border Patrol report (by Officer Troll)

The Billy Goats Gruff

Known for smuggling stuff

Are attempting to get to the other ridge

I am patrolling the entrance bridge

And if they get through despite it all

I’ll be the one to take the fall


Zane Age 13 Year 8 Adventure School








A poem from Peter Bland’s fabulous new collection for children




Peter Bland is one of my favourite local poets who writes for children. He has new book

The Happy Garden: New & Selected Poems for Children

Steele Roberts 2018

which I think should be in every school library and on every children’s bookshelf.

Peter writes with exactly the right ingredients: a trampoline imagination, a whizzing ear for rhyme, eye for things that surprise, sparkling humour. Peter’s poems are like little chemical reactions where things fizz and change and react and connect. Or little surprise parcels for us to open.

The Happy Garden does all these things and more! Peter has kindly given me permission to post a poem on my blog. Steele Roberts page.



The tiny tiny spider

A tiny tiny spider

is crossing the bathroom floor.

I leave him tiny tiny crumbs

he chooses to ignore.

The bathroom floor’s a desert.

I think the spider’s lost.

I think he thinks he’s a camel

and a desert has to be crossed.

Keep going, tiny spider

until you find a cave

in a crack in the tiles

or a hole in the wall

that’s cosy, warm and safe.


©Peter Bland





You might  like to check out my popUP

holiday poem challenge (deadline from Friday!!)

and my October poetry tree challenge


Poetry Box October challenge: tree poems

you might also like to check out my popUP holiday poetry challenge




My daughter drove up north to see Tāne Mahuta, the giant kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest. I saw it a number of times when I was little and it seemed so ancient and so precious. Now our kauri trees are under threat. I live next to the Waitakere Ranges wher large parts of the bush have been closed off. I live on land that is regenerating bush, slowly and wonderfully. I feel like I can touch the ranges from my deck.

October is the month where Poetry Box will celebrate New Zealand/ Aotearoa native trees by writing poems. I am excited about this because I love trees.


Some tips

It might be a New Zealand native tree you especially love.

You might go out and take a photo or do a drawing that you send with your poem.

Your poem might bring the tree to life with strong detail

or it might tell a tree story

or a tree memory you have

or a concern you have.

Use your eyes to hunt for fascinating things.

Use your imagination to hunt for fresh similes.

You might like to play with how you set your poem out.


Send to:

Deadline: Friday October 28th

Please include: your name, age, year and name of school

So I don’t miss it: Put tree memory in subject line


I will post favourites around about October 31st and while this is not a competition I will have a book for at least one writer.


IMG_4407.JPGIMG_4387 2.jpg

Looking towards the Waitākere Ranges down

through our bush. And our tamarillo tree.





Some favourite poems from the talking-with-whanau challenge





For September I asked you to talk to members of your family and use some of their memories to write a poem.

I suggested you get their permission to use the memory and perhaps even show them the poem when you had finished it.

I wondered what would happen when you used a memory instead of reading about the past in a book or online or using your imagination to write of long ago times or events.

I am sending a book to Tom.


First up is a poem album from Tom  (age 10, Year 5, Hoon Hay School / Te Kura Koaka). I loved the way he talked with his family to get these memories. Imagine – you could make a little poem album and give it to your mum or day as a present!


Grand-mum mistakes

She was making hot dogs.
The saveloys were boiling.
Their skins soft and red
like paper.
The batter so bubbly
it nearly exploded.
She drained the saveloys
and slid an ice-block stick
inside each one.
She dipped them into the batter
until they wore yellow crunchy, crispy coats.

She had forgotten
the claws of heat
reaching through
the steel circles
of stove-top elements.
She had forgotten
the plastic
tomato-sauce bottle
resting there.

By the time she snatched
the bottle the bottom
had melted and stuck
to the stove.
The handle hot in her hand.
The sauce a free red river.

Dad the ice-cream thief

One winter night,
Uncle Craig woke to hear
the fridge door creak open.
He tip-toed to the kitchen
with his detective torch,
to find his older brother Glenn
sitting at the table
with a bowl
full of vanilla ice-cream,
eating as fast as the wind.

Dolphin surprise

Dad was in Akaroa harbour
helping his brother
get set up to water ski.
Just as the launch
pulled away from the wharf,
a Hectors dolphin
rose out of the water,
as if to say “hello” to dad,
and disappeared again,
as quickly as thunder.

Aunty Michelle’s water crash

At Tekapo, Aunty Michelle
was in the water biscuit
with her feet hanging
over the front side.
Dad was driving the boat.
Aunty Michelle wanted to go slow,
Uncle Craig wanted to go faster.
Dad drove faster.
Aunty Michelle flew like
she was on a trampoline
into the sea.
Uncle Craig jumped in to save her.



and now more poems from young New Zealand poets:



My Dad’s Pet Ram

My Dad’s lamb
It grew into a big ram.
Whenever somebody came
Into his paddock
He rushed and bashed them over.
When it was pet day
He bent the fence.

Lucy Age: 7  St Andrews College, Christchurch


My Grandad in the Olden Days

Hopscotch and hide and seek
Try not to take a peek
Oh and climbing trees
Please don’t break your knees
Jump rope oh jump rope
Don’t do it on any slope
Now back to hopscotch
Try it while eating butterscotch
Georgie, 9, Selwyn House School, Christchurch



Were the good old days really the good old days?

Once my grandfather got the cane.
The way he got it was insane,
He put a cat in his desk, which ended up with pain.
My great great uncle was in World War 2.
Above the skies was where he flew.
His plane got shot and fell to the ground
But landed in the water and he drowned.
My grandmother said the worst bit was bath time.
She said it was like lying in dirty slime.
When she went in she went in she tried to grin,
But you came out dirtier than when you went in.
So are the good old days really that good?
If they are, look back at your grandparents’ childhood.

Mahe  Age 10 Westmere school LS8


My dad, his friends
Looking for a seat outside.
The seat was wet,
they decided to move to a different spot.
Shaking started. Loud cracks.
Big boom. The building crumbled.
Bricks fell on the wet table. My dad,
His friends fell off
Their seats. My dad,
His friends saved
By the rain.

Aurora, 9 years old, Selwyn House School


My Dad’s Memories

My dad was born during the 6 days war in a bomb shelter (which makes sense). Guns fired,
bombs dropped,
cannons reloading –
it was a horrible war.

Ameer,  7 years old, Year 3, Ilam School in Christchurch


The School Run

White clouds softly rise above the sodden paddock

In two paces my shoes shine as my toes inside them freeze

Toby looks up

It’s my job to catch him as no one else can

Toby knows my secret

Snaffling through my warm, soggy, porridge pockets


I launch myself onto his back

Whistling for the others

Scraping the mud and hair off my satchel

One brother, two brother, one sister, three brother

All aboard

And off to school.


Gemma, Year 8, age 12, Adventure School



Grandma and The Go-cart

Getting in the go-cart,

Go grandma go!

Big brothers pushing,

Go grandma go!

Looking down the steep street,

Go grandma go!

Rolling slowly,

Gaining speed,                            Now a zooming blur,

No brakes… bad mistake,

Go grandma go!

Neighbours fence coming closer, NO GRANDMA




Daniel, Age 10, Year 5, Adventure School


My Dad as a Boy Waiter

Slowly stepping
Placing plates
Piling dishes high
Bringing napkins.

By Estelle, age 7, St Andrews College Prep School


The Peacemaker

Standing with no fear.
Guns all around.
Speaking his thoughts
to save the innocent
and save the soldiers.
Travelling the world,
just to save lives.
Risking his own
to save many more.
Flying his own planes
to the smaller wars of the world.
This is my father’s life
as a peacemaker.

Laura Age: 10 Selwyn House School



Maybe there was German blood running through his veins,
Maybe his horse didn’t stop when he pulled the reins.
Maybe there was a fight between him and his friend,
Maybe my great grandfather’s friendship was too hard to mend.
Maybe it was all too hard, as hard as trying to hide from war
Maybe this story says much, much more.
Maybe it is more than what meets the eye,
Maybe his friend was a good, good guy.

Sophie Age: 11 Year 7 School: Selwyn House School



Cracking good owl poem by Te Ringa Tu Graham (Y6)






Wake my adorable owl,

As day falls and night awakes,

People drown in their sleep,

 and you arise to see the darkness of night.



Floating through the calm air,

The warm pressure of the summer breeze,

 jumbles under the fury wings of the owl.

The air tickles the feathers,

As it listens to the natives snoring in their huts,

 under its slick body.



Listen to the familiar everyday noises,

The howling, the hooting,the big z sounds

Climbing out the windows of houses,

The trees and rivers flow through waves of air.



Swooping down on its curious victims,

The tough magnificent owl,

rips its prey from the wavy grass,

Its victims slashed,

kept in its talons until it reaches its nest.



Striking fiercely through the prey,

 on the dirty muddy ground,

The mighty owl keeps its grip on lock,

until the rays of the sun hit the blue sky.



Eat the scrumptious prey,

As the screams silenced, the prey is dying,

You don’t feel bad instead you feel happy.

For you have something to feed your family.



Sleep peacefully,

As darkness drops to its knees,

and the sun angers towards the earth,

You slowly drift to sleep.


Te Ringa Tu Graham Rm30


Fairburn School, South Auckland



Screen Shot 2018-09-27 at 1.58.45 PM.png

















drawing by Kashira Rainey, Year 5, Room 30, Fairburn School 









St Francis School is inspired by Margaret Mahy

Hot tip: Try my September poetry challenge


Ti Kouka’s Year 5 and Year 6 students at St Francis School  really enjoyed learning about poetry and nursery rhythms for my August challenge. They looked at Margaret Mahy’s A Summery Saturday Morning poem and changed the words but kept the four-line stanza.

I love Margaret’s book! I read it a thousand times to my girls when they were young.

I really loved reading all the poems the class sent in; such energy, such bouncing imaginations. I have picked four poems to share with you.





A Windy, Winter Wednesday

I wake when the wind started to blow
Started to blow, started to blow
All I hear is a crow
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

Then I saw a big, fat fly,
A big fat fly, a big fat fly
It soared up in the enormous, blue sky
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

Then I saw a wriggly spider,
A wriggly spider, a wriggly spider
It looked like it was a super glider
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

Then I saw a wee white mouse,
A wee white mouse, a wee white mouse
It crawled out of its tiny little house
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

Then I saw a colourful bird,
A colourful bird, a colourful bird
It started to get really absurd
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

Then I saw an agile, brisk, furry cat,
Furry cat, furry cat
It was wearing a large, plain, brown hat
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

Then I saw my teeny, grey dogs,
Teeny, grey dogs, teeny, grey dogs
At least I still had my slimy, green frogs
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

Then I saw my little brother,
My little brother, my little brother
He was out all alone with no other
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

Then they all started chasing each other,
Chasing each other, chasing each other
One by one they ducked for cover
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

Then my brother caught the dogs,
Caught the dogs, caught the dogs
Before they could leap over the logs
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

We rush inside and eat some tasty stew,
Tasty stew, tasty stew
We see icy snowflakes that flew
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

By Tommaso Year 5


A Mystic, Magic Morning
We meander outside with full hearts
With full hearts, with full hearts
Holding a shiny sword and our wrinkled cart
On a mystic, magic morning.

The wind howled and the snowflakes flew
Snowflakes flew, snowflakes flew
This world is cold but looks all new
On a mystic, magic morning.

My pig’s feet sloshed in the snow white path
Snow white path, snow white path
I was scared but I started to laugh
On a mystic, magic morning.

A roar shook a hanging sleet
A hanging sleet, a hanging sleet
My pig started to dramatically bleet
On a mystic, magic morning.

A lion jumped out of the hidden bush
The hidden bush, the hidden bush
Me and my pig squealed like a cow that’s been pushed
On a mystic, magic morning.

He landed with a giant thud
A giant thud, a giant thud
After that he splashed me with mud
On a mystic, magic morning.

We ran as fast as our feet could take us
Feet could take us, feet could take us
When I looked back I wished for a bus
On a mystic magic morning.

In the distance we saw our small house
Saw our small house, saw our small house
As we ran we saw a louse
On a mystic, magic morning.

We slammed the door hard behind us
Hard behind us, hard behind us
We ate our food without any fuss
On a mystic, magic morning.

By Oliver Year 5


On a Sandy Sunday Morning

Dashing into the waves with the surfboard under my arm
under my arm, under my arm,
The water is clear and mostly calm
On a sandy Sunday morning.

I stab into the calm blue crystal water riding my board
Riding my board, riding my board
I feel like I’m a Knight in shining armour holding my sword
on a sandy Sunday morning.

As I’m furiously paddling, I get stung by a jellyfish bobbing
Stung by a jellyfish bobbing, stung by a jellyfish bobbing
Feeling tough but my left arm is throbbing.
on sandy Sunday morning.

I turned my surfboard around and bolt back into shore
bolt back into shore, bolt back into shore,
Spotting a lifeguard, I let him know my arm is sore
on a sandy Sunday morning.

The man points me up the club rooms stairs for a shower
for a shower, for a shower
Feeling relieved, I stayed under for an hour
On a sandy Sunday morning.

by Quinn Year 6 Student
On a Mystic Monday Morning

I can’t wait to go to Spain,
go to Spain, go to Spain.
We are departing on our plane.
On a Mystic Monday morning.

We just saw a huge fly,
Saw a huge fly, saw a huge fly.
It took all my brother’s pie.
On a Mystic Monday morning.

The baby began to cry, cry, cry
cry, cry, cry,
The parents began to sigh, sigh, sigh.
On a Mystic Monday morning.

The stranger began to drink his coke,
drink his coke, drink his coke.
I think he might even choke.
On a Mystic Monday morning.

We are starting to descend,
To descend, to descend.
I have made a new friend .
On a Mystic Monday morning.

The seatbelts began to click, click, click,
To click, click, click
Pablo is feeling very sick.
On a Mystic Monday morning.

By Dani