Category Archives: NZ Children’s poetry

Haere rā! An interview and poems from Gemma (12) – a foundation Poetry Box fan


Skimming Stones




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Gemma Lovewell written at the age of 10


Gemma has joined in poetry challenges since I started Poetry Box. She is in Y8 at Adventure School in Wellington and will be graduating from the blog this year. I have loved reading Gemma’s poems – especially her playful use of words, her agile imagination and her attentiveness to the world about her. And I have seen how she works with other children. A few years ago I visited her school when I was on my Hot Spot Tour of New Zealand. She, her mum Robyn, and brother Daniel, had baked poetry biscuits and we ended up making poems with them (see photos below).

It has been such a pleasure getting to know Gemma through poetry. I will miss her – but I wish her all the best for her writing, reading and space adventures as a teenager and as an a adult. May her days gleam with poems! I am sending her a copy of 99 Ways into NZ Poetry to dip into over the coming years. Thank you so much for joining in and inspiring other children!

We have done an interview, we have hunted out some photos and she has picked some favourite poems that she has written – old and new. And I have added a surprise poem at the end.





Paula: You have been following Poetry Box for a long time. What did you like most about it?

Gemma: That there were so many different kinds of poems I got introduced to, and so many different ideas to write about.  It really broadened my writing into a new genre that we didn’t used to do much at school.


Paula: Why do you like writing poems?

Gemma: They are so efficient!  You can express yourself in less words.  It’s less complicated than writing a story…but you are still kind of writing a story.  Also my brother and I have fun making up poems together  – we do it when we walk to school, or in the car, and we can usually remember them pretty well.


Paula: What were a couple of your favourite poetry challenges?

Gemma: I honestly can’t choose.  I like them all because every challenge is different and makes you think just a little bit more.  I have discovered I love writing Haiku though J


Paula: What was the hardest?

Gemma: Definitely the picture poems.  It is so hard to get the words placed exactly right, and sometimes you have to change the words to fill the gaps.  It takes ages to get it right!




Paula: Name some of your favourite poetry books.

Gemma: Macaroni Moon was my first favourite poetry book and so I think it will always be my favourite.  I also like Spike Milligan’s Silly Verse for Kids and Animals because when mum reads the poems from that we all get the giggles. Another amazing one is Kwame Aleander’s  The Crossover – it is a novel about basketball, but the whole thing is written in verse.


Paula: Oh cool, Crossover is my pile of books to read over summer. There is another one too – Rebound. What else do you like to read?

Gemma: Anything!  Everything?  I read A LOT – usually one book every night.  I like fantasy best, and my favourite series is the Inheritance Series.  I love reading any series because you get to know the characters.  I also like to sneak my brother’s library books into my room and read whatever he is reading…


Paula: Do you have a top tip for young poets?

Gemma: My advice is always the same:  Don’t think, just write!  Because if you relax and just let the words fall out, you poems will be more genuine.  You can do the thinking (fixing up) once you have the words on the page.


Paula: What else do you like to do in your spare time?

Gemma: Spare time?  What’s that!  I have a busy life.  I am very in to sport – I play rep cricket and basketball, so there is a lot of training. I do scouts as well, and have lots of badges.

I also like horse riding and travelling with my family.


Paula: What sort of things do you hope to write in the future?

Gemma: I hope to write a diary, written from somewhere off earth (I plan to be an astronaut!).  I would love to publish something “out of this world” J


Paula: I can  see why! You had the amazing trip to NASA. What were some of your favourite poems you wrote for a challenge?

Gemma: I loved loads of my poems.  Two of my favourites are ‘Skimming Stones’ – because it is so simple but I think it captures the moment exactly.  The other is ‘Concrete Cat’ –  this poem has become quite famous and been used as an example poem around the internet!  Teachers in my school and other schools use it to teach picture poems, and that makes me proud.


Concrete Cat.png

(written aged 8)



Some poems from Gemma I have not seen before written aged 12 (unless I say)


The Lovewell Family

My Dad is the chief chippie eater, the terrible

Takeaway fiend and the private snack thief

He is the relentless singer of repetitive songs

He has more hair in his ears than on his head


My Mum is the famous family taxi driver, the maker of

Nutricious deliciousness and the unbelievable lover of veggies

She is the bossy one always making sure all hands are on deck

Our captain of the great ship LOVEWELL


My brother is the  unstoppable behind your back fighter and

the sneaky puncher, the follower-rounder and snitch

He is the unfathomable mixer of foods and drinks

His favourite name involves maths


My cat is the unrelenting food beggar, queen of the couch

and the only creature chased by butterflies

She is the killer of vets and her eyes are just as big as her stomach

Her belly moves more than she does


My family works together and sails together through the storms


A Spaced out Sonnet

I was born to be an astronaut girl

Going to galaxies far far away

To do so I must let my wings unfurl

Not wasting life picking pieces of hay


I won’t laze around on couches all night

Instead I must study my science and math

I shall work hard to keep my goal in sight

If I don’t get there you will face my wrath


When I look down from my home up in space

I’ll think of the loved ones I left behind

I’ll see the earth’s stunning beautiful face

That is the journey I’ve set out to find


As I’m part of the Mars Generation

I think I’ll thrive on earth separation




Rain Falls over the snow covered Mountains

And flows to the fresh water stream below


War is happening below

Death comes

Every second


If you survive your family cries out with love


Birds catch and search for worms below the trees

In the sea below, sea creatures roam free.


(written in workshop with Apirana Taylor at the age of 7)


Lunar Musings

The moon is a silver marble

Rolled out trying to catch the earth

But not quite reaching


It is a boy’s silver coin

Dropped into the drain’s

Deep cloak of darkness


Moon is the forgotten marvel

An untouched dusty surface

Except by a dozen men

Who dared to disturb the peace


It is the friendly face

That you see every night

The calloused face

Humans have


Trusted for centuries




Drop of water falls

Followed by a raging flood

Bitter taste of salt


Gemma at NASA Space Camp






The biscuit poem project at Adventure School


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When I went on my Hot Spot Poetry Tour I visited so many schools and did events in so many places collecting titles for a new book of poems for children. I have finihed the poems and have almost finished the drawings (yes! drawings!) This is the title Gemma gave me at Porirua Library  – she can have a sneak preview of my poem.


Eat Your Words

for Gemma


Verbs are salty

nouns are sour

adjectives are crunchy

adverbs are crisp


The alphabet tastes like pumpkin soup

the letter p tastes like passionfruit

the letter d tastes like donuts

the letter c tastes like pie crusts


You can roast s

you can toast b

you can butter f

you can bake t


Flip sentences like pancakes

dress with cinnamon and sugar

then gobble in a flash


©Paula Green 2018






Wow! Some favourite poems from the Margaret Mahy challenge



What a special treat to have my email box fill to the brim with poems inspired by Margaret Mahy books. It was extra hard picking poems to post as this is the LAST challenge of the year. There were so many TREMENDOUS poems!


I loved the way Gemma used titles of Margaret’s books to make a poem.

I loved the way Daniel made an acrostic poem to sing the praises of Margaret.

I loved the way you all got your imaginations bouncing and your words leaping.


And I loved the Tom was so inspired he wrote 5 poems- I can tell he loves playing with words and making poems.

Because I love sharing poetry books around, I am sending Chloe a copy of The Treasury of NZ Poems for Children.

It was a treat to read all the poems you sent – thank you so much! I will do a few more posts this year before I put Poetry Box to sleep for the holidays.


It  was a big LOVELY coincidence but The NZ Herald is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Margaret Mahy’s The Lion in the Meadow and invited me to write a wee story about what the boy was doing now he had grown up. It will be in the Herald’s Christmas Books feature on Saturday 8th December.


 t h e     p o e m s


Margaret Mahy

M aster of writing, you were

A lways entertaining us with such

R idiculous words from a remarkably

G ifted author

A ll ages adored your books and

R aucous rumbustifications as you

E encouraged us all

T o keep reading


M agical imaginator, you were

A ddicted to creating, and it will always be

H ard not to love your stories, as

Y ou were one of the greatest writers of all time

Daniel L Age 10, Year 5, Adventure School




Aunt Nasty…

There’s a King in the Cupboard

And a Lion in the Meadow!


Dashing Dogs!

It sounds like a Villain’s Night out…

The Tricksters!


The Seven Chinese Brothers

Can take the Underrunners

To the Green Bath


But what about the Witch in The Cherry Tree

The Three Legged cat

And the Great White Man Eating Shark?


The Man Whose Mother was a Pirate

Can take them to the Door in the Air

So they can start Making Friends


I think they are planning The Great Millionaire Kidnap

With the Pirate Uncle

And the Word witch!


Then we shall hide Down the Back of the Chair

And listen for Footsteps in the Fog

Until A Summery Saturday morning


And we will use the Dragon’s Telephone

To call the Good Fortunes Gang

To rescue us from this Horrendous Hullabaloo!

Gemma, Y8  Adventure School



Saturday Morning

On a Saturday morning I lay in bed, not wanting to get up
On a Saturday morning I read a book in bed, not wanting to get up
On a Saturday morning my Mum comes in, telling me to get up
On a Saturday morning I have Weetbix and toast, wishing that I hadn’t got up
On a Saturday morning I get dressed in my rugby clothes, reminding me why I got up
On a Saturday morning I get in the car with my Dad, who also had to get up
On a Saturday morning I arrive at my rugby game and see my friends, which is one of the reasons I got up
On a Saturday morning I score a try in rugby
I’m really happy I got up.

William F, age 11, Year 6, Ilam School, Christchurch.
Mother Pirate

My mother pirate
sleeps all day
wearing black boots
I call her queenfisher
She doesn’t like it
so she says to me
“you quacky duck”
and that’s my mum

Chloe W Age: 7  Ilam School



My Mother was a wonderful baker
She could bake all sorts of stuff
Biscuits, cakes, breads, slices
She was a master
But my favourite was her jam
Blackberry Jam
Sweet, syrupy stuff
Bread’s best friend.

Lachlan F age 11, Year 6, Ilam School, Christchurch.


Down the Back of the Chair

The chair, the chair,

Held riches and wealth

For many a year,

Without a person finding out.

He let them suffer,

He let them weep

He let them have nights with no sleep.

The poor family were at their end,

The father was driven round the bend.

Just as they were about to give up,

The chair erupted with all sorts of stuff.

Finally, the family could breathe again.

The chair had saved their lives.

By Eva M Karaka Room Royal Oak Primary School


The Bubble in the Wind
The bubble in the wind
flies gently by.
Over the trees
and into the sky.
Inside the clouds
the bubbles flies.
Into the wind
the bubble cries.
Next to a bird
who nips it flat,
and flies to the ground
with a great big SPLAT!

Christina S Age 6  Ilam School


Fruit Salad Flying
(After Margaret Mahy’s Down the Dragon’s Tongue)

Swizz, swoosh
Higher and higher
Whizz, whoosh
Warm and slippery
Fruit salad flying

Olivia L Age: 12 Year: 7 Selwyn House School


The Boy With Two Shadows
Footsteps rattling the sides of the concrete
Cracks splitting in the light
The delicate patter of a toddler’s step
A little boy’s walking alone

Swollen misshapen, two shadow swerve
Extraterrestrial shape
Two shadows based exactly the same
Sucked in by a little boy’s foot

The boy’s shadows dance and sway in the light
Both ugly, dark and small
The boy’s timid expression remains frozen
But the shadows duck and hide with a grin

The boy causes a stir as he walks down the lane,
Avoiding cracks at all costs
His two followers melt behind him softly,
Until all is left is a boy who once had two shadows

Sylvie King Age: 12 Selwyn House School


My Nan Sells Jam
Every morning she walks outside to smell the country air, she feeds the chickens then the horses and the spring lambs
Then she walks to her most treasured living creature
Her plum tree
She walks over and studies the condition of the plums then picks them
And puts then in her best woven basket
She walks back inside and mashes them together
and puts them in a jars.
Nan then will walk out onto the road with a table her jam and a country mag and set up a stand with her jam
Sometimes her stand with jam is busy sometimes it’s not
But my nan will always tell you one thing “I will never lose my love for plum jam”

Phoebe James 10 years old Year 5  Selwyn House School
The Santa Snail – After Margaret Mahy
Santa Snail walking running, you never know
Santa Snail curled up tight in his shell
Warm and cosy in his shell buried in the snow
A Santa Snail works all night long
Pulling his sleigh
With presents for other snails.

Mia D Age: 10 Year: 5 Selwyn House School


Mother Pirate

The woman who was a pirate,

Was fussy as can be.

Randomly, she sailed to sea,

Just to see the queen bee.

As greedy as a honey bear,

She then turned into the mountain deer!

Don’t look her in the eye,

Or you’ll be sorry!

Reham Y, Age 9, Year 5, Fendalton School


A Lion in the meadow
aahhh aahhh aahhh
The lion is stuck in tar.
Good, first I put a cage
over him.
His age is 7!
Oh no get the hose
Good, the tar is gone.
Let’s let him go
Wait! Let’s name him
Ahh um aha
Great idea.
Now let’s let him go
Ok bye Patrick!

Jonny A, age 6, from Ilam School
Milk In The Library

A cow walked into the library
To read a book on grass
She had a little accident and
Flooded the library with milk
Drenching books
Smudging ink
Wrecking leather
Milky mayhem in the library
Don’t open the door!

Finlay T  Age 8, Year 3   Ilam Primary


The lion in the meadow

The lion in the meadow gives a mighty roar

And then the mice run all along the floor

The lion jumps and I start to flee

While the lion laughs at me in glee

The lion makes a terrible sound

And I drop in fright to the ground

The lion runs

And I get stunned

Bye, lion!

By Josie P, age 7, Year 2, Ilam School, Christchurch


The Witch in the Cherry Tree
The noise echoed through the silent house,

I walked to the window,

Somebody was there,

In the tree,

I rushed to the other bedroom,

I joined my parents to gaze at the witch in the cherry tree.

Ruby T Age 10, Year 6 Ilam School


And to finish up FIVE magnificent poems by TOM

Lion in the Light
Father father what was that?
Hush my son only the lion
(scratchy-meaty ever so beefy)
out in the shed.

Father father what was that?
Hush my son only the lion
(purry-furry ever so roary)
out in the garden.

Father father what was that?
Hush my son only the lion
(shocking-rocking ever so coughing)
out on the deck.

Father father what was that?
Hush my son only the lion
(breaky-achy ever so wakey)
out in the kitchen.

Father father what was that?
Hush my son only the lion
Lighty-bitey ever so mighty)
down in your bedroom.

Corn Trouble
There is trouble in the corn field.
The magpies crunch for brunch
crunchy and brunchy til the dawn
opens the mouth of corn
and pop-pop-pop, the corn does drop.

There is trouble in the corn field.
There is popcorn on the road.
There is popcorn in the garden
and pop-pop-pop, the corn does drop.

There’s no trouble in the corn field.
All the corn is on the ground.
The magpies have sailed
in a river of popcorn.
There’s no more corn to drop.

The Boy with Two Shadows
I am here
but cannot be seen.
You will never know
where I take steps
or strike. You will
never know, where I’ve been.

I am there
but not here.
You will never know
where I am.
You can touch me
and I’ll disappear.

The boy looks at his shadow
In the sun
And realises he has two!
What will he do?

The Margaret Mahy Jelly Playground
There was a green can
of jelly in the supermarket.
Every customer walked past
and never bought him.
This left him lonely.
So one night he dropped
off his shelf.
His can burst open.
All at once the supermarket
was a green jelly playground,
With slides, swings
and a water factory.
This became known
as the Margaret Mahy Jelly playground,
where the children of New Zealand
could play safely for ever,
ever, ever and ever.

The Burger Burglar
The Burglar could never
resist stealing burgers.
Cheese and sour cream,
bacon, beef and onion,
pineapple and corn.

At night he broke
into houses to steal
only burger stuff.

He only left sauce trails.

A detective followed
the trail of sauce,
and caught him.

It turned out
he only stole burger stuff,
because he wanted
to make friends.

Tom N Age 10  Year 5  Hoon Hay School/Te Kura Koaka

Poetry Box November Challenge: celebrating Margaret Mahy with poems


The hat-instead-of-a-cat poem

If I wore a cat instead of a fluffy hat

I would sneeze and sniffle

but if I had a hat in the cat basket

it wouldn’t ask me for biscuits

with a terrifying catOwail

and a frightful tabbyhOwl

before the pink light of dawn.


Paula Green





Dear young poetry fans

This is the last poetry challenge for 2018.

I might do secret popUP challenges over summer with giveaway books and a quick turn around.

But to end the year I want to celebrate the MAGNIFICENT writing of Margaret Mahy – her books and her poems, her characters and her delicious imagination.

I was inspired to do this when St Francis School sent in poems based on Margaret’s A Summery Saturday Morning poem.



Margaret Mahy POEM challenge:


Write a poem that steps off from a Magaret Mahy

picture book



one of her titles

or character

or word she invented

or tricky situation she came up with

or first line of a poem


Your poem can be or do ANYTHING!

Get imaginations BUzzING

Use your EARS and listen out for MUSIC

You might do a very short poem!

PLAY with everything – especially how many words on a line

try RHYME play and hiding rhyme like salt and PEPPER

PLAY with how it LOOKS on the page/screen

you can illustrate your poem if you want





Send to:

Deadline: FRIDAY  30th November

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

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

I will post SOME on:  Monday December 3rd






October challenge: a few more tree poems



Oh dear I got my deadline date muddled for the tree poems because Sunday (today) is the 28th not Friday!


So I am delighted to post a few more TREE poems that arrived in the nick of time. Gemma played with poetry forms, Daniel played with humour and Michelle made a warm-glow poem.


A poem from Michelle Z, Y2, Ilam School


Yellow flowers upon this tree,

Flying around the sky.

Playing hide and seek,

all together.

Holding the golden flowers,

eating lunch together.

Finding sweet new friends,

Friends found by you,

best friends,

always there for you.

Kōwhai flowers.


Three poems from Gemma Y8, Adventure School


He rakau ātaahua koe

(You are a beautiful tree)


he rakau ātaahua koe Kōwhai

he rakau ātaahua koe Nīkau

he rakau ātaahua koe Rimu

he rakau ātaahua koe Tōtara

he rakau ātaahua koe Kauri

he rakau ātaahua koe

rakau ātaahua o nga atua




The golden kōwhai

In spring a tūī café

A treat for us all



Shall I compare thee to a tōtara tree?

You are as upstanding and as solid

And while parts of you may seem tough to me

My life without you would be just horrid


At times you help me reach up to the sky

Using your branches to find great new height

Yet you also shelter me when I cry

And offer me safety when I take fright


Like the tree, our bond took much time to grow

But our roots run deep giving strength to last

And while lofty heights mean I’m ready to go

I’m glad you saved me from growing too fast


So while I may roam, beyond what you see

You’ll always remain, my tōtara tree.



Three poems from Daniel Y5, Adventure School


I wonder…

I wonder how the first tree began?

Did some matter clump together, til suddenly…



Or was it a mutant

Plant from the sea

That somehow evolved to the might we now see?


Or did god use all his power

To create something great

Nature’s own tower?


I guess that we will never know

But still I am glad

That trees came to grow



If a tree could grow

In zero gravity

Its roots might stretch

In crazy directions

Like a dancing octopus

And in autumn

The leaves would float

Like a shower of confetti

That never stopped raining


Daniel L, Adventure School



The Beech Tree

I sit under the beech tree lying there doing nothing.
I hear the wind going through the leaves,
Making the most wonderful noise.
The birds whistling their lovely melodies.
Blossoms falling all over the place.
I ask myself “what would life be without trees?”

William F (11, Year 6), Ilam School, Christchurch

Poetry Box Challenge: some favourite October tree poems



Queen Charlotte track – the trees are magnificent!


I was really excited to post a tree poem challenge because I love trees and look at trees everyday. Thank you for all the tree poems – you made it  so hard picking.

I was especially delighted to get the poems from Royal Oak Primary School because they had gone outside to sit by trees to write their poems. Hunting for tree detail was an excellent plan.

I was also very moved by Ethan‘s memory of a tree (it is the last poem here).


This is always a poetry challenge not a competition – but I am sending Quentin a copy of my book The Letterbox cat. I loved the way his poem went full circle.

On November 1st I am posting my last challenge of the year!





He stands proud.

He stands tall.

He holds a shelter for the birds, bees and tiny insects.

His arms grow out, reaching out to greet the other trees.

His leaves dance gracefully to the ground in the gentle breeze.

He shelters all from the rain, the wind and the sun.

He stands proud.

He stands tall.

By Quentin – Year 6,  Royal Oak Primary School


Cabbage Tree

Pointy, spiky. Poking my arm
Big green pom-poms
like bright fireworks in the air
sprouting up from the ground,
pointy spikes all around.

Penelope S  Age 8 Year 4 Selwyn School

pohutukawa tree

look at me I make you happy when you see me.
my trunk is huge and green green  grass lies under me.
my silk flowers are as bright as can be.
look at me, look at me, look at me.

Jacob Age: 10  Year 5,  Fendalton Primary


Pohutukawa Tree

Pohutukawa tree,

the favorite tree for me.


Blooming Christmas red,

warming my covers for me in bed.


Kingfisher’s favorite

their flower kit.


So go sit under a pohutukawa tree,

and look at the red brushes making you the happiest you can be!


Jasmine R Age 7 St Francis, Pt Chevalier




I remember the day
I bought you
you were small
and weak
you had no leaves or flowers
I slowly ripped the plastic
from your roots
and popped you in a pot
Now you are strong
with leave and flowers
you have survived
all 4 seasons
I am proud of you

By Thea, age 9, Ilam School


My Tree

The trunk is as rough as sandpaper on my hand.

As dry as an African desert.

The sawn off branches look like arms ready to tackle you to the ground.

The branches tangle together like noodles.

The tiny leaves are as green as a rich lady’s purse.

Reaching for the dense leaves creating alien shadows.

The dried our leaves brown and rusty.

Bruce – Year 4 Royal Oak Primary School


I Am the Oldest

My skin is rough and torn.

My leaves cascade down to the ground and glimmer in the dappled light.

My giant branches reach out like hands

Many elaborate animals find themselves building homes in my safe arms.

My dagger like leaves are for my protection

My sturdy trunk houses millions of roots that snake throughout the undergrowth.

I am the oldest tree.

Paige – Year 6 Royal Oak Primary School


Still Growing

Trees expand their little skinny hands with a greedy group of leaves.

The buds of the impatient flower are ready to explode into a mountain of colour.

The old leaves sadly sway down as the strong solid tree is singing “Let it go.”

I am one with the tree.

Tika – Year 5 Royal Oak Primary School



In the morning
when the sun is rising,
the rimu tree
sways in the wind
like it is fighting.
In the day the cat
sleeps peacefully
under the rimu tree
And the sparrow chicks wait
for food in the rimu tree branches.
When the sun goes down
the cat walks down the road
back home. The sparrows sleep
safely in their nest.

Tilly O  Age: 9  Year 5 Selwyn House

The Old Blossom Tree

There’s a kowhai tree,
In the centre of my garden.
Its flowers are always the prettiest,
Dew drops cling to the curvy bark,
Sunlight dances on the clear, yellow bell petals.
A young lizard delicately crawls up its lovely trunk.

Paige L  8 years old Fendalton Open Air Primary School


The kowhai tree in summer

Winter had crushed the colour out of
the flowers and trees.
In the next few weeks came summer.
Beautiful colours sprang.
There was not one tree or bush without a bloom
But over the golden horizon one tree stood out
and it belonged to New Zealand.
It was the vibrant yellow kowhai tree.

By Alice, 9 years old. Year 4 Selwyn House School


The cabbage tree

Sharp and pointy.
More leaves falling down.
Sparrows flying above on a sparkling day.
Collecting and building making a nest.
Hoping no one will hurt their nest.
Then at night they come to rest.
Alice G, age 9, Year 4, Selwyn House School



The New Zealand Christmas tree
hangs over the golden sand,
like people looking into a tank.
With its bright red flowers,
soft green leaves,
and it’s extraordinary size,
this tree is is the best for climbing.
From there you can see the horizon,
along the sea.

Xanthe W age 10, Year 5, Selwyn House


Bamboo rap song

Bamboo is green. Bamboo is smooth. Bamboo is cool. It’s gonna rule.

Bamboo is thick. Bamboo is slick. Bamboo can be chopped into tiny bits.

Bamboo is strong,stronger than anyone.

Bamboo is fun.

when it’s in the sun.

George Age 9, St Francis Pt Chevalier



The gift of pohutukawa tree

Red flowers spreading on the tree
like mould on an old tomato.
The heavenly flowers are the natural perfume of the earth.
The gift of joy they bring to everyone.
Is the gift of the pohutukawa tree.

Rebecca H Age: 10  Selwyn House



The kowhai tree

The kowhai tree
outside my window
sways and shivers.
It twinkles in the moonlight,
humming in the gentle breeze.
Whispers “it’s a glorious sight”.
What would your tree say?

Charlotte K, Ilam School, age 7, year 2


The pohutukawa’s life

Standing strong and old
in its little known forest
ready to have a peaceful death.
Awaiting for the right moment.
As he sees the big machines
he closes his eyes and waits.
Then he opens his eyes
and can see his brothers
dead on the ground.
The cutting pain in his side is finally over.
He topples over,
holding onto his last shred of life.
He and his dead relatives
are thrown onto a truck
and are taken to be carved.
The last one of them all
is the old pohutukawa.
The man on his rocking chair
does not know
that his chair was once the tree
that he climbed when he was little,
The old pohutukawa.

Laura M  Age:11  Selwyn House




My first memory was under a pohutukawa tree. Its red flowers, as red
as a ruby, were glittering and shining in the morning sun. I was going
for a stroll in the park as it was the first day of spring. The first
flowers were blooming and all the plants were like a tornado of

But my favorite tree of all was the native pohutukawa. I
liked the way the flowers looked among the shiny green leaves. It
really worried me that some people were cutting these trees
thoughtlessly down. If this went on, there would be none left; so my
family and I planted some seedlings that spring. And that was my first

Ethan, Year 4, Fendalton School





A poem and drawing from Toitoi: and an invitation to submit new work



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I have been reading my way through the gorgeous new issue of Toitoi – a magazine that publishes writing and illustrations by children aged 13 and under.

Charlotte kindly gave me permission to publish this terrific poem by Lani (5) and equally terrific drawing by Lucy (9). The poetry is all so good – but so is everything else.  See if you can find a copy for your self and get inspired!

It is now time to send in more submissions so check out the details below.



Submit to Toitoi

Toitoi celebrates the ideas, imaginations and creative spirit of our young writers and artists. We publish material with an original and authentic voice that other young people can connect to and be inspired by and that reflects the cultures and experiences of life in New Zealand.

If you are a young New Zealand writer or artist and you are 5-13 years old, we would love to hear from you.

All submissions must be your own original work and be previously unpublished. If you would like to illustrate a story or poem, please photograph or scan two examples of your very best work and send them to us. You are welcome to submit your writing and art together and to make multiple submissions.

All submissions should be emailed to with your contact details.

For submission guidelines see here


Deadline: November 30th






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