Tag Archives: Balmoral School

The Treasury Interviews: Hina interviews Stephanie Mayne

Things about Hina!

Hi my name is Hina and I’m 10, my birthday is on November the 8th. I was born in 2003. I have 2 brothers and I have 6 sisters but one passed away and I was named after her. I am from Tonga and every Sunday I go to church. My hobbies are to play outside with my siblings, read books, draw and walk my dog to Balmoral School. I play netball for my school, I also sing in  school band. I have friends called Soana and Madison. They are both in the best class whole universe.


Stephanie Mayne is an Auckland librarian. Her poetry has been published in newspapers, anthologies and online literary journals. She likes collecting things – interesting objects, ideas, people and words. She keeps a notebook with her always and jots down thoughts and impressions to use in her poetry later. Once she has written a poem, she puts it aside for at least a fortnight – till she has forgotten about it. Then she rereads it with a fresh mind – and nearly always redrafts over and over again.

When writing poems for children, Stephanie tries to look at the world as a young person might – a world hopefully filled with wonder and excitement. She imagines what might move a child or make a child laugh. She is lucky to be a librarian – there is always a student around willing to read her poetry and tell her what works and what needs more attention!


The Interview:

  • 1) What kinds of stories do you like to read? Why?

I like reading all sorts of different types of stories!   I like stories that make me think, stories that make me emotional, stories that I learn things from. I especially like stories in  which authors have used words in unusual and creative ways.


  • 2) When did you start writing poetry?

The earliest poem I can remember writing was when I was about ten. I entered it into a newspaper competition and it was published! I was so excited! Ever since I can remember I have been comparing things to other things. I would look at  the mashed potato on my plate and imagine polar bears climbing over it, like Antarctic ice. So, I guess you could say that I have been writing poems in my head forever, really!


  • 3) It says on the internet that you like playing with your dogs. Do you ever write about them? What are their names?

Yes – I used to write poems for my daughter about our dogs. The dogs we have at the moment are both boys – and really naughty boys at that! They hardly ever do what they are told and they   don’t have good manners when they eat, that’s for sure. They are neat, though! They are called Baxter and Joe. Cool names, don’t you think?


  • 4) Do you enjoy being a librarian? Does it help you with your poetry being around lots of books?

I love being a librarian. All day long I am surrounded by words, words, words!

I   am so lucky – I can always get the books I want to read. If you want to be a better writer you need to read what other people have written!

I think that I do have a better understanding than some people about what young people   like to read because I deal with students a lot and I notice what their preferences are.


  • 5) Why did you choose to write poetry?

It sounds silly – but I can’t   not  write poetry! If I haven’t written a poem for a while I get grumpy and feel frustrated! I always have to have a poem “on the go.” I carry a little notebook around with me and jot ideas down all the time. Writers are great magpies – they are always looking for that shiny word, that glittering phrase to pinch!


  • 6) Who is your favourite author? Why?

My favourite children’s author – like lots of other people – is Roald Dahl. I like how irreverent (naughty) he is and how he never talks down to children or tries to “improve” them. I love his quirky, amusing characters and his elegant, accomplished writing. Yes, Roald Dahl is a hero of mine!


  • 7) Who do you think is the best in your whole family? Why?

I love everyone in my family but if I had to pick just one person then that would have to be my daughter. That is because she is the kindest member of our family. She has a smile that makes people smile back.


What a lovely interview Hina and Stephanie. Thank you! Stephanie has three poems in A Treasury Of NZ Poems and you can tell she loves playing with words. They are very juicy.



wobbly words meant I got to meet Phoebe


I was so delighted to meet Phoebe at Balmoral School’s Wobbly Word Week (Book Week).

She sent in an astonishing poem about her Gran for one of my  challenges so I sent her copy of Wonder ( a book I love so much). She told me she has read it and loves it. It is a book for Year 7 or 8 but maybe some Year Sixes might like it too.

If I come to your school and you have sent me poems do come and say hello!

You can read Phoebe’s poem here.



At Balmoral School the words just bubbled and bubbled

Last week I had a great visit to Balmoral School. The students came up with some sizzling lines for poems when I worked with all the Year 5 and 6s in the auditorium. I did a workshop and words bubbled and bubbled. I loved them all, but here are a few of my favourite bird poems. Thanks for a super school visit.


Kiwi As

Active kiwi

hiding his rough camouflage

blending in with the bushes wobberling

through the dark

deep forest, the sharp

beak dragging along the

forest floor, the moon

shning on the kiwi

kiwi as

Ben Year 6


Black-billed Gull

Oil on snow

swoops down

glorious gliding gull

soaring, gliding, landing

pecks a bug


Piddle, paddle, looks up

at the sky

3, 2, 1


Ink-gull flies.

Noah Year 6


Blue Duckie Funny shuffle

Plips nuff

Snuffle scroog

Plip snuff


Flap flap




Splish Splosh

Night Night.

Sadie Year 5


NZ Falcon

Curved dagger beak

waiting for the

sound of tiny feet,

claws like knives

poised to strike,

floats above

watching for movement.

George Year 6


Clumsy Kereru

Shiny green,

slomsly flaps through the

forest, crashes on a



to others,

feathers shining

eyes shining,

wobbling through the air

searching for


then swooping

onto the

Ben Year 6



Ocean blue

neatly perching on the jiggered twig.

Hunting for food

in the crisp autumn leaves.

Its beak as black as

coals on fire.

Flippy flap

tweet chirp

peck pick

rustle rustle

Catrin, Year 6

Kiran’s burger goes crazy and other poems

Whenever I visit a school I always give students writing challenges.

After speaking to the Year 7 and 8 students at Balmoral School, Kiran went away and tried all my challenges! I thought that was pretty awesome and loved reading the poems. I am posting my favourites. Great job Kiran!


One challenge was to try writing a poem with a line that repeats (after my poem ‘The Panda is on the Loose’).


The burger has coming alive

it’s spitting out gherkins and mustard,

the burger has come alive

it’s eating the pepper and salt pots,

the burger has come alive

its hopping on the tables and chairs,

the burger has come alive

Aaaarrgghh chomp-a-chomp-a-chomp,

the burger has been eaten.



Another challenge was to try writing a poem with made up words




clang, clong, cling-flizzzzz

kkkrrrrrrrrrrrr-bang – owww!!


[Keran says this is supposed to be a contraption gone wrong].



A third challenge was to play with rhyme (this was Keran’s favourite):


I was fighting a wizard

when I slit open his gizzard

and looked in disgust,

only to be knocked out

by a cold-lizard and awoken,

locked-outside in a bold blizzard.




The old green door opens …

…. onto a poem!

This week I visited Balmoral School and the theme of their Book Week was Doors. There are so many books with doorways and there are so many ways doorways can take you places when you write.

I started off by picturing an old wooden door. It was green, with peeling paint, and it was on a shed at the bottom of a garden. I opened the door slowly and inside was …

…. this was the beginning of a poem the Year 7 students made up with me. I got them to think of things inside the shed.

The Old Green Door

I open the door and see

a rusty bicycle

an old radio

a broken broom

the dangling shovel

sparkling spider webs

flattened tyres

a fat chicken

a mountain of firewood

We ended up making a list poem and I loved the picture that grew in my head with this list of things. I then got the students to explore how a last line can change the whole poem. One student suggested the last line could be ‘The shed collapsed‘ as though it had been in one of the earthquakes. That line would make you see the whole poem differently. It shows how important last lines can be.

Think about the last line when you write your story poem.

This is the poem Jamila (Year 7) came up with (I love a ‘gush of dust’ and the ending!):

The Haunted House

The door is flung open.

A gush of dust flies through my face.

I step onto a rug.

Flies zoom in and out.

The wind whistles.

A howl is heard from every corner.

The room slowly darkens.

A shadow is still seen.

A mysterious person in front of me is still visible.

Abruptly they turn around.

A clone of me appears.


Harry (Year 7) manages to build nice tension in his poem:

The Door

I twist the golden painted brass handle

I throw open the old chipped door as it screeches

I see an old chalk board with chalk dust rom top to bottom

The back wall has crumbled plaster all over the floor

I walk over to the screeching of a rusty, metal-spring, cuckoo clock

But as I stumble round the corner I see

the great, grey door.


Bryan (Year 7) wrote this poem full of juicy rhyme and images:

The Spooky Mansion

Visiting the mansion, I reached for the knob.

The mouldy door creaked

and in the room I saw

flickered candles, melted wax

dreadful organs, flapping bats

fluffy webs and screaming ghouls

desperate zombies, flying ghosts

sparkling wizards, magic toast

fireworks screamed, very strong light.

Then someone lit the dynamite