Category Archives: Poetry

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All submissions must be your own original work and be previously unpublished.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 audio spot: Adrienne Jansen’s wonderful ‘Next year’



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This wonderful poem is about Adrienne’s local diary owner and the way he was treated so badly. I love this poem so much. The poem is from All of us, a collection of poems around the themes of migration and refugees, by Adrienne Jansen and Carina Gallegos, to be published in October by Landing Press.


Adrienne Jansen has been listening to stories of newcomers to New Zealand, and writing those stories with them, most of her life. This poem, “Next year”, is one of those tiny stories. She lives in Titahi Bay, near Wellington, and writes fiction, non-fiction and poetry.


Check out the Poetry Box August challenge here

Poetry Box audio spot: Glenn Colquhoun reads his nursery rhyme






Glenn reads and talks about: ‘A nursery rhyme for Barney Whiterats


Glenn Colquhoun is a poet and children’s writer. He works as a GP in Horowhenua.


Watch out for my August challenge inspired by this tomorrow.






Poetry Box audio spot: Renee Liang’s Caterpillar

This is the perfect audio to go with our July butterfly challenge. Listen out for the butterfly song in te reo.









Note from Renee


Here’s a recording of me reading the poem to Ferndale Kindergarten followed by the kids singing ‘Purerehua‘, a song they love.

The ‘Caterpillar‘ poem is inspired by a Cantonese children’s rhyme we also practised (but I did not record): 

點蟲蟲, 蟲蟲飛。飛去邊﹖飛去荔枝畿。荔枝熟, 摘滿一包袱。

dim chung chung, chung chung fei. fei hoey bin? fei hoey lai ji gei. lai ji suk, jaak muun yat bao fuk. (Not proper Cantonese romanisation)

Almost word for word translation:

point insect insect, insect insect fly. fly to where? fly to lichee area. lichee ripe, pick (and fill up) full a haversack (bag).

Here are some pictures of their hands being butterflies and also a shot of my son Luka G (4) who attends the kindy. 






You can find Renee’s poem in A Treasury of NZ poems for Children

Renee Liang has always loved telling stories and making worlds in her head. Like the caterpillar, when she spins a house around her stories and snuggles with them for a while they often turn into something unexpected. Sometimes they are poems, sometimes plays, once even an opera. She loves showing other people how to write down the worlds in their heads. Renee has two children aged 4 and 5 who are also world-makers.





Poetry Box audio spot: Kyle Mewburn reads ‘The lump on the end of my nose’



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Kyle Mewburn is one of New Zealand’s most eclectic writers. Her picture books are noted for being multi-layered, funny and linguistically creative. Her titles have been published in a dozen countries and won numerous awards including Children’s Book of the Year.

As well as picture books, Kyle has published several best-selling junior fiction series, notably Dinosaur Rescue and Dragon Knight.

Originally from Brisbane, Kyle lives with her wife, Marion, a well-known potter, two cats and 24 chickens, in a house with a grass roof in Millers Flat. When she’s not writing, Kyle spends her free time maintaining a semi-self-sufficient lifestyle, or exploring the strange world she’s discovered at the back of her wardrobe.

Kyle’s website










Librarian’s Choice: Jessie Neilson picks AA Milne


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There is no poetic influence that springs to mind more for the childhood years than the inimitable A.A. Milne. I had the rhymes read to me endlessly as a child; they were favourites of my father for their simplicity in their rhymes, and their humour, and their accessibility, however unlikely it might be that we end up curtseying in the company of the Queen. 

James James Morrison Morrison” so the story goes. What a good boy, what a normal boy; what a curious boy out to explore everything that any other child would want.

 Or Ernest and the other of his friends, animals of familiar ilk: “Ernest was an elephant and very well-intentioned; Leonard was a lion with a brave new tail, George was a goat, as I think I have mentioned, But James was only a snail”. These creatures are individual, but singularly as important as others, in their daily, slight traipses across the scapes of the world.

Then there is the perplexity of not quite knowing where one is, exploring the parameters of a child’s day-to-day life: “Halfway down the stairs/ is a stair where I sit/ There isn’t any other stair quite like it…”. These are very simple and quiet steps that a young child takes every day as they learn about their immediate world.

Everything about these verses in their simplicity, their commonality and familiarity, make them appealing to a child. 

And then there are those phrases that takes us back to earlier, quaint times; of a land far away from New Zealand life, but that of A.A Milne, as he speaks of London: “They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace – / Christopher Robin went down with Alice”…That is a  refrain that all of us know today.


A. A. Milne today is immediately of a time past, of a land that most of us have never known, yet the influence of manners and curiosity is one that lingers. His rhymes and patterns are continually accessible, and his imagery and subjects within his poems are such that even as adults we welcome reciting them.



Jessie Neilson is a University of Otago library assistant and mother. She reviews regularly for the Otago Daily Times and Takahe and has a broad interest in matters literary.




Check out my June winter video poem challenge