Tag Archives: animal poems

Poetry Box November challenge: some favourite Aotearoa wildlife poems – Part 2



Wildlife in Aotearoa by Gavin Bishop, Puffin (Penguin Random House, 2019)


Poetry Box’s last challenge of the year has seen a record number of poem arrivals and it has taken me days to read them all and write back which is why I am posting today and not November 30th.

To get such a swag of heart warming poetry inspired by Gavin’s book and the birds, animals and fish of our country is AMAZING. Wow! I have loved the fascinating facts and the way you used your ears and eyes.

I loved the way you have been inventive and thoughtful. I loved the way your words danced and sung. I loved the way messages about caring for our planet were important. So many different ways to write a wildlife poem. So much poetry joy!

I have added macrons on Māori words so let me know if I missed one please.

I am very sad I couldn’t pick all your poems but I have tried to get a range of subjects and styles and locations.

I know you are all passionate writers and remember that is what matters – when I don’t get picked (it happens!!) I just remind myself how happy writing makes me. And I write another poem. Or book!

Watch out for my summer challenge! Do follow my blog so you can do things next year with me! And yes – I will do a wrap post in a few weeks maybe with a secret summer challenge or three.


I put names in a hat as I read all your poems as this is a challenge not a competition and I pulled out these: I am sending Ava (Russley School, Christchurch) Gavin Bishop’s Wildlife in Aoteaoa thanks to Penguin Random House. I am sending Groovy Fish to Maddison (Churton Park School, Wellington), Niamh (Westemere School, Auckland), Mia D (Selwyn House).


PS I will have a copy of Groovy Fish for someone who emails me and tells me which poem they like here and why! Open to any age – even adults! paulajoygreen@gmail.com

The wildlife poems



A morepork hoots while I’m in bed
I look out the window and I see its soft feathers
It’s sitting on a branch in my garden saying “morepork morepork”
It looks around and stares at me without blinking.

Ivy M age: 6 Y2  Ilam Primary School, Christchurch



Kiwi have nostrils on the tip of their beaks.
Kiwi are nocturnal.
Kiwi’s beaks make noises that squeak.
Kiwi eat wētā and worms.
The worms wriggle and squirm.
Kiwi feathers are as soft as a feather floating in the sky.

Sophie C Age 6 Westmere School



Tūī Fly

Tūī fly
in the sky.
They hunt for food
way up high.
They dive down on to trees
and suck the nectar… yummy!

Sofia C Age 6 Westmere School


Haast Eagle

Claws curled
Claws jagged
Claws are samurai swords

Beak big
Beak large
Beak pointy as a shard of glass

It is ready to fight

Wings grand
Wings mighty
Wings wide as a vast desert


Soaring through the sky, searching for moa…

By Hunter L Aged 9 LS5 Westmere School



Kiwi only come out at night.
They have short wings,
and are not good at flight.
Kiwi eat wētāa
wētā are crunchy.
They eat them on Tuesday night,
and wētāaare munchy.
Kiwi put their beaks in the ground to get bugs.
Their feathers are soft as silk.

Rory D Age 5 Westmere School


The dance of a Tui
A tūī’s dance is like a powerful blizzard.
Its wings flap up and down like the ocean waves.
My tūī’s beak rattles,
remembering her previous journeys to Akaroa.
Her feathers tell stories to warn her friends of oncoming climate change.

Eileen C, age 9, Ilam School


On the Heaphy track
little pīwakawaka flutters
in the air and snatches
the sandflies before they bite me.

“Peep, peep, peep, peep,”
she sings and opens her throat
and fan and dances
with great joy.

She hoovers up spiders
and grub that dare come near
her cup nest lined with hairs
and covered in soft webs.

When the wind rises
above the strong kauri,
pīwakawaka returns to her nest
and two of her eggs,
to sleep and warm them.

Tom N Age 11 Year 6  Hoon Hay School/Te Kura Koaka



Funny fantail wiggling its tail

Acrobatically flying through the trees

Nosy little creatures

Twittering chattering squeaking

Always putting a smile on people’s faces

In the shade of a pōhutukawa tree

Lovely little fantail!!!


D’Artagnan R Age 10 LS7   Westmere School



A Tuatara
I am a tuatara
I live in a rocky burrow on an island
I am 1 of 100,000 and more are dying
I smell mushy murky mud
I hear birds singing and trees rustling
I feel sharp rocks underneath my scaly feet
I taste raw crunchy wētā in my mouth
I see forest wherever I go
I walk around seeking for bird eggs or something to eat
I love being a tuatara
And I love being me.

Joe M  Age 9 LS8 Westmere School


Special penguin

Little blue penguins
Have wings but can not fly.
Dog are predators.
The world’s smallest
Penguins nest in burrows or
1kgs standing over 30cm.
I’m as blue as a sapphire
As tall as a chair.
Living in Antarctica where it’s freezing
Cold and just perfect for ice-skating.

Olivia C  Y4 Fendalton school



I am the Tuatara
The Tuatara with three eyes
The Tuatara who lives in a self constructed burrow

I am the Kererū
The Kererū that weighs 650g
The Kererū with a white chest

I am the Albatross
The Albatross with the largest wingspan of any bird
The Albatross that can travel 10,000 miles in a single journey

Maddison A Age: 11 Year: 6 Churton Park School


Chatham Island Robin
Tiny button eyes
Ebony black feathers
Spindly twig legs
The Chatham Island robin

Scouring the forest
For wētā and worms
Always on the run
From malicious cats and rats

Racing across
The forest floor
There’s barely any of us left
Only 234

In summer
I care for my young
Hiding them away
From stoats and other scum

A violent squeal
Is what I call
When danger comes

My eggs are speckled
Beige and brown
Like a chicken’s
But smaller

At night I retire
To my nest
I tuck my tiny beak in my feathers
And rest
The Chatham Island robin

Sophie B  age 10, Y6, Churton Park School


Our old friends
Did you happen to know
We have a dinosaur of our own.
It’s called a tuatara,
And they don’t like to be in the mara.*
These guys fan out their spikes,
And rats these guys don’t like,
They’re 200 million years old,
Which explains why they look like mould.
They also have wrinkles,
They don’t look like sprinkles.
Our friends have more than two eyes,
They just love to eat all blowflies
Our tuatara has been alive,
for quite some million years time,
So if you see our old friend,
Some time with him you should spend!

* Māori name for garden

Mahinaarangi W  Age: 10  Richmond Road School


Poi eee!!

Tuft of a white fluffy poi… (EEE)
Unique as a little elephant
Sounds like a Squawking duck, and a Squeaking owl.

Paora S age 11 Richmond Road School



Noisy Kiwi

Crac crac crac
Kiwi stomping here
Pipi pip pip
Kiwi picking here
Grr grr grr
Kiwi bitter here
So noisy and cute
Yet forests seem mute…

Name: Alex E  Age: 7   Y2    Ilam School



Beautiful Ruru

Looking up at the beautiful Moon
I hear the sound of a ruru
Its beautiful massive yellow eyes
Silently staring into mine
I gaze – wondering what to say
Come my friend, come out to play

Ilah  age 8  Year 4 Maoribank School


Kiwi bird – deep in a forest

Long lost in the forest in a place warm as heaven
I hear your sound – “Ki- wi ki – wi ”
Your whiskers so helpful
Your feathers but no wings
But again, I hear you deep in the forest
So I sing to you
Oh kiwi so brown you run but don’t fly
But you’re still a special bird on my mind
Kiwi bye bye
Lost deep in the forest
My mum says “It’s time to go”
I will see you again
Now found in the forest

Kylesha M 8 years old  Year 3 Maoribank School



Kakapo tries to fit in

Chubby little bird what a cutie he can be
He’s cousins with a Kaka who’s really quite neat.
His sharp claws can make him fit in with Kea
Who might tease him about his weight and sneer.
His song is too simple for a group of popular Tui
His fashion’s a bit trashin and his feathers are gooey.
A Kiwi’s nose is grand compared to his short stubby one
Yellow eyed penguins? Nah yellow eyes I have none.
There’s a Fantail, Kakapo says with hope
He’s chubby like me…. his tail is too cool, I bet he’ll just say nope.
Kakapo feels sad inside, his eyes well up with tears
Even the blue billed duck is not weird enough to be one of my peers.
He looks up and Takahe says don’t cry your exactly like me
You see.
I won’t tease you about your weight cause your belly’s just like mine
Your voice is average, it really is in line.
Your nose is the same as mine and who wants a big nose
Yellow eyes, who wants those.
Brown are the best, right
A big tail, hmm you would blow away like a kite.
So please be my friend and don’t decline.

Alexander F, age 10, Ilam School, Christchurch


The Special Penguin
I am a Little Blue Penguin,
the smallest one of all
I live for about 6 years,
Scientifically called Eudyptula minor.
I come out in the cover of darkness,
hide inside my burrows in the day.
I eat fish, squid or krill it is the best.
My feathers are as soft as velvet
I tweet a happy song.
Swimming round the ocean,
Now the day has gone.

Leona K age 9  Selwyn House



Yellow eyes so big and bold
Peering through the old hollow tree.
He turns his head round 270 degrees
And flies down and digs his talons
into a termite nest.
Sensitive eyes to the sun pointy beak
Who knows where he is in Punakaiki

Georgia 8 Selwyn House School


Little Blue Penguin
My little blue flippers
flap away in the water.
My white streamlined stomach
Rumbles and moans.
My dark grey beak
Chomps away
on any food I find.
I swim away from the sharks
towards the plankton.
I am the Little Blue Penguin
Shivering in a cave in Akaroa.

Anneliese S age 11, Selwyn House School


A bat is what your looking at…

in the night.
A bird
an insect
not at all.
A bat is what your looking at.
It scoops an insect.
Gobble, gobble.
Yum, yum, yum!
A bat is what your looking at.
This one isn’t normal though…
a native New Zealand bat,
as little as a mouse, bat,
As squeaky as a rubber duck, bat…
a long-tailed bat.
Quite rare they are,
fluffy on their head,
and boy their wings can spread.

Ella M LS6 Westmere School age 10


Longfin Eels

Slither sliding like a sea snake,
Live in rivers, inland lakes,
Hunt at night in the dark,
Eating drinking like a shark,
Feed on fish and water snails,
Have sharp teeth like a killer whale,
They don’t look like an eagle
but they use noses like a beagle,
They are here and they are there,
Longfin eels are quite rare
They are never really seen
They do have eyes but they can’t see
I love eels and you should to,
They are sweet and you are too.

Jemma L Westmere School Y6 age 10



Big Brown

He feels as soft
As a pillow.
And he’s beautiful as
Bright flowers.

He walks like a
Waddling penguin.
And squawks like an
Old squeaky tractor.

He is as brown
As milk chocolate.
As he lies in his
Cosy burrow he nibbles
On earthworms.

The big kiwi
Is very rare
We need to look after
him with care.

Olive W, LS6, Age: 10, Westmere School


Life as a Kea
My beautiful orange feathers flash up and down
As I fly up and down the West Coast.
My olive green feathers,
wave in the wind.
When I hop around the frosty floor,
I munch on berries
And an audience crowds around me.
I am a fan of car window wipers.
At the end of the day
I fly back to the ski field
and huddle in the freezing snow.

Mia age 11 Selwyn House School


Giant kōkopu
Declining in numbers
20 years living
300-400mm long
Speedy predators
Close to extinction.

Camouflaged in the lake bed
Moulting leaving behind the previous covering
Hunted by large trout and shags
Hunted by us for a crayfish snack.

Gemma H Age 11 year 6 Churton Park School


The saddle burnt on it’s back
Noisy and active
Foraging for food
In the NZ forest
Aidan C,  aged 11  Year 6  Churton Park School



Be amazed by
The flightless, nocturnal Kākāpō
That makes ‘Boom! Boom! Boom!’ noises at night.

Be amazed by
The giant, vicious Haast’s Eagle
That hunts for Moa with a bird’s eye view.

By Emily Y  Age:11 Year 6 Churton Park School


Watch out for
The only white kiwi
Known to the world
Manukura is her name
Digging her nose
Into the dirt
To find
Something to eat
They saw her as a tohu
A sign, a gift to the world
So they named her Manukura
A brave strong leader
Madison R Churton Park School age 11


Be amazed by
The slimy Archey’s frog
Growing up to four centimeters long
Jumping from tree to tree
camouflaging from its predators

James age: 10, year: 6,  Churton Park School



Dead in reality
But alive in our hearts
It haunts the waters
Where it once laid
The fin that transfers from red to blue
Mesmerizes us all
Where did it go in the 1930s?
The mystery is a secret we shall never know
from now on and into the future
We will never know the mystery of the grayling fish

Jack M Age 11 Year 6 Churton Park School



The fantail
I’m in a myth
I’m small and magnificent bird
I flit around in the forests
And make a `cheet cheet’ sound.
I eat fruit flies and berries
I’m black, white, brown and orange and small.
So that’s what I am!

Catherine S Year:4 Age:8 Fendalton School



Fairy Tern

Fairy tern
Trying to survive with
Only 40 left living
They hover over fish
And eat
to keep
Their species alive
Sounding like squawking penguins
Fairy tern
Now I want to tell you
How to save the
Fairy tern…
So next time you see a fairy tern
Be aware of what I’m about to tell you.
Stay away from nesting grounds
And keep predators away, hey!

Miro P Age 9 LS8  Westmere School



The only native raptor in New Zealand
Feathers black as an eclipse
Flying through the sky
Talons as sharp as blades
It’s a meat eater
It’s beak is like a knife
Predator of the sky

By Elliot P Age 7 LS5 Westmere School



King fisher

Smart fisher

Chirping at you, fisher

Meat fisher

Treat fisher

Eating all the insects, fisher

Blue fisher

White fisher

Royal to New Zealand, fisher

Special fisher

Cheeky fisher

Luckily not endangered, fisher

Forest fisher

Flying fisher

Diving for food, fisher

Diurnal fisher

Pretty fisher

Flying like a bullet, fisher

Although I’m not endangered…
please protect me fisher!

Niamh Cotton 9 Westmere School




small, white, grey and black

feathers flutter wildly

twisting over the ocean

looking for a fishy prey


feet and beak shine

like newly minted coins

as they dive towards

the shimmering ocean


their ovoid eggs lie waiting

like hidden treasure

in a sandy dip

by the shore


Ava M, 11 yrs Russley School



I ruffled my feathers

in the rough stormy weather

dim-lit sky withered

evening smells slithered

puddle water glimmered

as last light shimmered


Benson L, 10yr Russley School




My fluttery tail and swishy wings help me fly

I can snatch little bugs straight out of the bright, blue sky


My brother is charcoal and I am chocolate

and when people whistle, I will come right away


My nest isn’t made of hay,

I am pīwakawaka, every single day


Eabha D, Russley School




There’s a party in the shed!

There’s a party in the shed!

The humans will be sleeping

the fantail will be tweeting

the cicada will never stop screeching.


There’s a party in the shed!

There’s a party in the shed!

The kea is coming

the kaka is coming

even the kiwi will make its way.


There’s a party in the shed!

There’s a party in the shed!

The little blue’s bringing the fish

the Kererū is bringing berries

even the bellbird is bringing the worms.


As the sun rises

we know we must leave

for now the world is waking.


Eliza S, age 10, Russley School


NZ Forest

The fantail glides around, circling the trees. My footsteps crackle against the golden leaves and old twigs. The fantail is distracted by every step I take. He lands, ruffling his feathers against a nearby tree. He picks himself up and flies against the light breeze. I snap a twig off a kowhai and put it out to the left of me. He cautiously flies down and lands on the twig. I take a closer look and scan the details. He has fluffy ombre feathers like Rapunzel’s long thick hair and three toes on each side of his petite feet. I whistle a short rhythm and a whole war party of fantails float around me like miniature ships on the light blue sea.

by Kimberly C, 13yrs Russley School


Kiwi’s Features

long beak scavenging for grubs


tiny wings to tuck his beak in

when he goes to sleep


fast legs bolting from predators


a kiwi’s shrill call

like my brother’s shriek


Liam B age 9, Year 4, Russley School




Pīwakawaka, pīwakawaka
Flitter, flutter
Spider webs
For baby’s beds
Build the nest
Have no rest
Lay the eggs
The baby begs
Off she flies
in the sky

Leo Age 8 Westmere School


Hoiho eats fish and squid
It lives in the South Island
It has waterproof feathers and they
shine as brighter sky
Its eyes are neon yellow like the galaxy
It waddles away from predators like a baby
Its feathers are black, yellow and white
It has small feet
The parents hunt for food
and they all feast
on fish and squid

By Diana K Age 7 Westmere School



Hāpuku Hāpuku
Giant grey hāpuku
on the ocean floor
feeding on crabs
Up comes a hāpuku
running for its dad!
Stretched puku
my puku
Humungous brown hāpuku
100 kilogram hāpuku
boosting through the water
coming at the speed
of light it turns midnight.
Speeding as fast as a bullet
Could be coming round
corners a hāpuku bumps in to me
Huge puku
Humungous hammerhead puku
Hāpuku Hāpuku

By Billy  LS5  Age 8 Westmere School


Powelliphanta Snails
Suck slurpy worms
Like spaghetti,
In the dark
They slither
along the
forest floor
looking for
They’re nocturnal
You know
they need damp to grow.
The powelliphanta snail
has been found!

By Martha B Age 8 Westmere school


THE kōkako
I am a kōkako.
I am native to New Zealand.
I eat yummy leaves and fruit.
I have strong long legs like a stainless steel door.
The thing that makes me special is that all of my kind have rounded wings like a banana.
I sound like a screeching thing and if it is a word in English I am a scruncher.
I am endangered with an only 1300 left on the North Island.
When I fly in the air I feel free and alive.
When you are looking for me I am very hard to find.
I am a kõkako.

Julian S Age 10 LS8 Westmere School


Kaimanawa Horses

Kaimanawa horses
gallop in
the night, shining
in the moonlight. Black or
white, brown or grey,
they are always
kind. I ride on them when no one is
looking, and in the morning they vanish.

Sophie O, aged 7, Ilam School, Christchurch


The Kākāpō

The world’s only ground parrot

Comes out when the lights go out

In green feathered camouflage


Booming through the undergrowth

Calling for a mate

But not really ready to mate

Until the Rimu flowers


When facing fear

Is it fight or flight?

No, it’s freeze

Pretend to be a bush

Or moss on a tree stump


Once called the worlds ugliest

This cheeky native of NZ

Is really one of the cutest

With the longest lifespan

Yet only the smallest chance of living

Our critically endangered taonga


Precious psittacines

That scuffle and hide

They climb, they dance, they BOOM!

Some say that kākāpō can’t fly

But I know that’s a lie

Ambassador Sirocco flies like you or I…

On an AIR NZ 747!


Daniel Y6 Adventure school Wellington





Animal angry poems


After reading the very, very, very, very, very, very fabulous The Day No One Was Angry by Toon Telleegen, I decided to post a challenge to write an angry animal poem. These are my favourites.

Gecko Press published the book and very kindly donated a copy to give away. Thanks Gecko Press. I love all of these but I have picked Ewen to send the book. I love both the story in her poem and the way her poem sounds. Glorious! I loved the message (moral) in Gemma‘s tale and all her good detail. And I just loved the zinging words in the poems by Lachie and Isabel. Well done young poets.

Screen shot 2014-12-05 at 1.29.53 PM

In a Busy Forest

In a busy forest

lived a tiger,

who ruled

the entire place.

Scaring everyone,

roaring and growling,

until one sunny day.

As the tiger strolled

across the land,

a hippo

who was rolling

in a pool of mud

suddenly had

an idea.

Whispering to everyone,

muttering and chuckling,

together all of the

animals devised

a plan.

When the tiger passed

slowly but swiftly,

around the pool

of mud,

all of the animals


In fear

the tiger







the mud.

Furious for the rest

of his life,

never roaring,

never growling,

never scaring anyone.

The tiger,

no longer the ruler

of the busy forest.

Ewen W aged 12, Room 20, Year 7, Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch

Lessons from A Little Bird

Stones were thrown in the air

By someone who didn’t really care

A little bird was injured

Fell out of the sky, ignored by the stone thrower

He later got discovered

By a kind and caring woman

She nursed him

Until he could fly free again

He repayed her kindness

By dropping magic seeds

The seeds grew magic pumpkins,

Filled with delicious treats

He repayed the stone thrower too

By dropping magic seeds

But these seeds grew not treats

But spiders, ants and termites

The insects drove the stone thrower from her home

And forced her to change her ways

Because kindness inspires kindness

While cruelty never pays.

By Gemma L, aged 8, Year 4, Adventure School, Wellington

St Francis School makes animal poems pop!



When I visited St Francis school on the Storylines Tour one class had some animal poems to share with me. When they were read aloud they popped in my ear. I loved the repeition. It was treat to hear them thanks!


Colourful feathers

Tweet, tweet.           

Pointy orange beak

Tweet, tweet.

Soaring smoothly

Tweet, tweet.

Eating its treats

Tweet, tweet.

Bailey age 9



Slimy slobber

Woof woof

Loving licks

Silky silver fur

Woof woof

Barking in grief

Woof woof

Loving licks

Woof woof

Kiera age 8



Soft proud mane

Restlessly roaring

Sharp iron claws

Restlessly roaring

Stalking its prey

Restlessly roaring

Gnawing its prey

Restlessly roaring

Vinnie age 9



Soaring, gliding in mid air

Whoosh, screech

Diving, snatching its prey

Whoosh, screech

Golden beak shining

Whoosh, screech

Brown feathers blowing

Whoosh, screech

Mickayla age 9

Poetry bonanza challenge: make up an animal

Here is another little poetry challenge for you.

Try writing a poem about a made-up animal. Hunt for words. Then write the poem.

What does it look like?

What does it eat?

What sounds does it make?

How does it move?

What does it fur or skin remind you of?

Does it have anything special like a trunk or a horn or different ears or tail?

What is its name?

Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com Include your name, age, year and name of school.

Have fun!

Joy Cowley cats leave pawprints in the butter

Joy Cowley has written a terrific book of cat poems. All of the poems sound good and some of the poems tell stories. There are mean cats and cheeky cats and surprising cats. I rather like Jake who has such a long tail it looks like a broom. This book is in some libraries so you will be able to order it in if you are lucky.

The other splendiferous thing about this book is that all the gorgeous colour illustrations were done by children. Not just paint — but crayons and dye and felt pens and colour pencils were used.


Joy has very kindly let me post ‘Apricot Cat’ (which is very fitting in the week we have her book Friends as a prize due to the lovely Gecko Press!). I love the way this poem sounds good when you say it aloud  — so good it almost becomes a song. And then – it is also a poem with a little twist. Joy shows that sometimes the very best poems can use quite simple words to tell a story. The extra special ingredient in this poem is … repetition. Listen to the way some lines echo and change through the poem. Try reading aloud in class with different groups taking different lines so the classroom fills with a delicious, echoey apricot cat!

Apricot Cat

The apricot cat said to the mouse,

‘Mousie, I do love you!

Come with me to my beautiful house

With its table set for two.

And you will hear me sing:

Mousie dear, Mousie dear,

You’re the sweetest thing.’

The mouse said, ‘No!’ to the apricot cat.

‘I will not go with you!’

One place at your table is set for cat,

The other for mousie stew.

And I would hear you sing:

Mousie stew, Mousie stew.

You’re the sweetest thing.’

© Joy Cowley with friends (the children illustrators!) Pawprints in the Butter: A Collection of Cats Mallinson Rendel 1991

Pet Poems

Today I am posting a poem about our dog Molly who was the worst dog swimmer in the world. But when we went on holiday to Sandy Bay (near Whangarei) this summer we taught her to swim and she got really good and was very proud of herself. Her brother Nonu has always been an excellent swimmer. This is the poem I wrote about Molly BEFORE her swimming lessons.

Feel free to send me your pet poem (and a photo if you want). No more than 30 words. Don’t forget to say it is for the pet poem challenge. Include your name, age, year, school. Include your teacher’s name and email if you like. Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com



Molly needs swimming lessons

because when she dog paddles

she smash paddles.

Her paws go crash splash screech scrash

like a champing chomping concrete mixer.


Small Poem Finalists and Winner

It was very exciting having small poems arrive from all over New Zealand and from all ages (up to Year 8). It was a hard job picking a winner so I am positing eleven finalists. All of these poems will also go to the Children’s Page (this gets lots of visitors so you will have lots of different readers!).

Room 14 at Birkdale Intermediate in Auckland sent in some fabulous haiku (the best I have read in ages –with special mention to Buster. He has two here so I am sending him a runners-up prize) and Room 5 St Joseph’s School in Kaikoura showed poems don’t need to rhyme to be splendid. I also loved the way the Roydvale School entries were all different (I hope I can visit  Room 11 when I am in Christchurch this year!). Congratulations to all classes for some very fine poems. I thought Sylvia‘s poem was surprising and wonderful and want to see more by you! Perhaps other students will comment on what great writing you have produced.

In the best poems, the poets managed to make something happen with a handful of words: a picture grow, great sounding lines, tell  a little story, make you feel something, make you see something differently.

The winner is Emily from Ohaupo School. I loved the sound of the poem (I love eyes and surprise rhyming and the word order on the first line), I loved the little story and I loved how every word is in just the right place. Magnificent job! I will post you a copy of my book Flamingo Bendalingo thanks to Auckland University Press.


Stripes black and white

Zebra slips through the night

Big brown eyes

Giving animals a SURPRISE

Emily (11 — Year 7) Ohaupo School


NZ Falcon

Gliding at speed around

the dry rugged bush;

with eyes like binoculars

beaming down at its prey.

Adam (12, Year 8) St Joseph’s School Kaikoura


The clumsy chicken stalks its prey

like a cop down the street.

He snaps the grass and pulls out

a criminal worm.

Grace (11, Year 7) St Joseph’s School, Kaikoura



A penguin slides

along the ice

like a plane landing,

as he wears his tuxedo.

Annalise (10, Year 6) St Joseph’s School Kaikoura



Running through the forest

The wild behind it

As dark as night

Buster Rm 14 Birkdale Intermediate



A swoop in the sky

spiraling down to earth

claws open to catch

Buster Rm 14 Birkdale Intermediate


Small Birds

Sweet song slips from its beak

Hiding high in the trees

The little sparrow

Stevie-Ray Rm 14 Birkdale Intermediate


The Lion

Razor sharp claws,

dark green eyes,

long shaggy mane,

and a fearful deep growl,

I am a Lion.

Jessica (12, year 8) Maidstone Intermediate


Cheetah and Turtle

Cheetahs are fast

Turtles are slow!


Cheetahs have spots

Turtles do not!


Cheetahs live in the jungle

Turtles live in the ocean.

Isaac aged 6 Roydvale Primary Christchurch


One Little Mouse

Once a little mouse lived in a house

He ran really fast and knocked over a glass!

Kaitlyn aged 7 Roydvale School Christchurch


Silver Ants


The ants crawl

Silver spacesuits

The race for food

In ten minutes

Don’t get burnt



Sylvia (12 Y8) Parnell District School



This week on Poetry Box and a Snail Poem

This week on NZ Poetry Box it is a mix of things. On Monday I will remind you about the small-poem challenge and post my snail poem, on Tuesday I will give you a poetry tip, on Wednesday I will play with poetry, on Thursday I will post an interview with John Parker (he writes terrific poems for children!) and on Friday I will post the winning small poem (or poems!).

The Small Poem Challenge: Write an animal poem using no more than 15 words (you can go slightly over!). Send it to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year, name of school and teacher’s name and email address. Think about the tips I have given so far and check out tomorrow’s tip. The winner will receive a copy of Flamingo Bendalingo (courtesy of Auckland University Press).

I am pleased to see schools are promoting The Fabulous Poetry Competition on their websites. With so many entries for this competition I will only accept them at my physical post box.

And now for my poem. There are thousands of poems about snails and I have always been fascinated with the way they carry their home about. Sometimes I have let my imagination take off with this idea. Do they have little couches and tvs to watch? Are they like a mobile home going on a sightseeing tour? When I wrote this poem I wanted to describe the snail and keep it real. I thought of saying the house was like a little acorn but then I liked the sound of hat (and I thought it’s a funny place to keep a hat — on your back!).

When I write a poem I always play with the way the words sit on the line. I could have said slips and slides but I picked slides and slips.

 A Snail Poem

A snail slides and slips

down the path

on her silvery snail trail,

with her little house sitting

on her back like a shiny hat.


Poetry Challenge #2 Small Poems

I have just done a big email out to all NZ Intermediate schools to let them know about NZ Poetry Box and the Fabulous Poetry Competition for children.

So I have decided to extend the deadline for the small poem competition until Friday 15th March so some Year 7 and 8 students can enter.

I am challenging you to write an animal poem using no more than 15 words. Check out my poetry tip for this week. You might go on a juicy word hunt first then play around with the words you use.

Send your poems to paulajoygreen@gmail.com

The winning poet will get a copy of Flamingo Bendalingo thanks to Auckland Unversity Press.

Joy Cowley’s Elephant Rhymes (Scholastic)

Joy Cowley is one of New Zealand’s most beloved children’s authors. She has written hundreds of books for children of all ages. I really love Snake and Lizard with illustrations by Gavin Bishop (Gecko Press). It is a beautiful book to hold, the stories are little gems and the pictures are splendid. It made me want to start writing little tiny stories myself. I love the way snake and lizard are always squabbling but are the best of friends.

JoyPortrait         Elephant-Rhymes-5678770-4

Elephant Rhymes is a book of poems with illustrations by Brent Putzee. It was published in 1997 but you can still get it in libraries if not bookshops.

Each poem sparkles and crackles with word delight. Most of the poems tell a story about an elephant character (some poets like all their poems to tell a story!) and all of the poems have fun with words. Joy has a great imagination so her poems stretch out to all kinds of places and situations.

Somebody wants an elephant but her mum thinks a puppy or a kitten would be better round the house.

Somebody else has an elephant under their bed and ends up riding on the elephant in their bed in their pyjamas. This poem is hilarious.

I love the elephant that keeps saying ‘Trumpetty trump!’ And I love the elephant that does the Broadway elephant rap. That elephant gets to go to New York City. The poem has deliciously made-up words like ‘elephong’ and ‘elephand,’ ‘elephied’ and ‘elephap.’

One of my favourite elephant characters is the one in the poem called The Bookshop Elephant. Joy has given me permission to share the poem with you. I love bookshops and I love reading so this my kind of elephant. I also love the way Joy uses repetition. The trunk and the ears are always going to be large and grey. Marvelous! I also like the end of the verses that are in italics. Joy shows you can make a pattern and then you can change it just an inzy winzy bit and make it more interesting.

The Bookshop Elephant

An elephant lives in our bookshop,

beside the paperback shelf.

Any time of the day you will see her,

reading silently to herself.


If you try to interrupt her,

she’ll raise her large grey trunk,

flap her large grey ears and go:

booketty, booketty, hump!


She reads adventure and mystery

but what she likes the most

is a very scary yarn about

a haunted house and a ghost.


If you yell, ‘Boo!’ behind her,

she’ll raise her large grey trunk,

flap her large grey ears and go:

Booketty, booketty, jump!


She’s read a whole section on ballet,

and she thinks she knows how to dance.

She’s even bought a pink tutu

should someone give her the chance.


If you ask her to dance for you,

she’ll raise her large grey trunk,

flap her large grey ears and go:

Booketty, booketty, bump!


She’s studied from Ants to Zebras.

She knows the history of art.

Give her a look at a poetry book

and she learns all the rhymes by heart.


If she’s asked to leave the shop,

she’ll raise her large grey trunk,

flap her large grey ears and go:

Booketty, booketty, grump!