Tag Archives: Courtney Sina Meredith

Poetry Box review festival and POP-UP challenge 4: Courtney Sina Meredith and Mat Tait’s The Adventures of Tupaia


The Adventures of Tupaia Courtney Sina Meredith with illustrations by Mat Tait,

Allen & Unwin  – author page


Each day this week I am posting a review of a children’s book published in Aotearoa with a pop-up challenge and a secret giveaway. You will have 48 hours to do the challenge!



Tupaia was the incredible Tahitian priest navigator who sailed on the Endeavour with Captain Cook on his first journey to Aotearoa.

Allen & Unwin worked with Auckland Museum to publish this magnificent book to accompany the museum’s exhibition: Voyage to Aotearoa: Tupaia and the Endeavour

The exhibition is on from 13 September 2019 until 15 March 2020 at Auckland Museum.


The book is a significant arrival because it brings into view stories from our past, and the important role Tupaia played in the first encounters between Aotearoa’s tangata whenua and Cook and his crew. Tupaia was a navigator but he was also a translator, a cultural interpreter and an artist.

It is important that our stories are seen from multiple views (not just those of Pākehā) and that they are also written and reviewed by Māori and Pasifika writers.

This big beautiful large format hard-back book is a tribute to an astonishing man. Courtney Sina Meredith, a poet and fiction writer, has brought both poems and prose together to tell the story, and that choice adds to the richness of the book. Mat Tait, a comic artist, has added stunning visual images to add layers to the story. It is a book of multiple beliefs, customs, discoveries, relationships.

When the Endeavour arrived in Tahiti, the ship’s artist, Sydney Parkinson, taught Tupaia to paint with paper and paint, while Tupaia taught Sydney the traditions and language of Tahiti. With his impressive grasp of English and his many talents, Tupaia was invited to help navigate on the voyage south, along with his young apprentice Taiata.

History can be facts and history can be imagined, history can also be smudged facts and misused facts and overlooked stories.  This book is one step in fixing our missing stories. Courtney gets me to feel history. And when I feel history I think about history.


The Endeavour rocked gently as she sailed south. After exploring local waters, the ship had left the tropical lushness of the islands behind, the crew firing a cannon on departure. The thunderous explosion had rung about the hills as Tupaia looked back to shore with both excitement and sorrow. The priest navigator had no way of knowing if he would ever return to his home.


Courtney and Mat help me picture Tupaia breathing in ocean air with his arms outstretched, feeling the wind against him. He was breathing in and feeling knowledge on his skin, listening to the stars chanting. Tupaia told Cook and Joseph Banks (the botanist) that he and his people understood time and space differently.  He read the ocean and he read the stars. He shared scared knowledge that should have remained with his society because he loved sea travel so much. We hear Cook say how his King might like to claim the empty islands.

Ah, this is such a deep and difficult pang.

With rich graphic illustrations, Mat shows us Tupaia’s arrival in Aotearoa: scenes, people, objects, marae, warriors, hongi, muskets, life, death, peace, violence, the sky. Each page holds my attention and each page moves me. The illustrations track the places the ship stopped at. Courtney’s prose and poetry unfolds people and places, communications and miscommunications. The writing is like song – singing the past into life for our ears and hearts. Yet this is also a book of important ideas – how we write the past, how we must listen to multiple stories and understand there are multiple ways of doing things.

Ah, this book encourages me to pay attention.

It is the kind of book you need to spend time with, making discoveries, finding new ways to see things.

I haven’t felt a book to such depths for a long time. I am hoping every child gets to read this book and love and learn from Tupaia and his travels as much as I have. An essential book. A magnificent book in debt to mahi and aroha.



THURSDAY POP-UP challenge:


This is a tricky challenge for me because it feels like you need to read the book and you need to talk about the book with friends and family, and your class.  And then the book will open up inside of you.

To write a poem about Tupaia without having made discoveries about him feels wrong.

Pākehā have done too much of this!

So I am going to give you a few choices.


1  If you have read or have heard about Tupaia make a poem that makes a connection with him, that shows something about him and his travels.

2   Write a poem imagining what it might be like to travel across the ocean. Can you do a little research? Can you collect ocean words (nouns, verbs, adjective, similes). Collect navigating words, sky and star words? Use your senses to bring the ocean scene to life? Have you ever been out on the ocean? Use that experience.



Deadline: 26th October 9 am

Include: your name, age, year and name of school

Don’t forget to put  TUPAIA or OCEAN poem in subject line so I don’t MISS your email.

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Some favourite poems: I will post some favourites on 26th October. I will have at least one secret give away! I will put names in the hat and pull one out.

Woohoo! A Secret World of Butterflies event at Dorothy Butler Children’s Bookshop

This is the perfect event to go with our July butterfly challenge.

I used the fabulous Secret World of Butterflies to prompt our challenge.

If you live in Auckland you can meet poet author Courtney Sina Meredith and do butterfly craft at the children’s bookshop.









The Treasury Interviews: Rusheen interviews Courtney Sina Meredith

Rusheen goes to Brooklyn School in Wellington.

Photo on 2014-08-28 at 17.17

Courtney with her little brother, Pele (9), that she wrote the feather poem in the Treasury about.

Courtney Sina Meredith started writing poems and songs when she was four years old, they were mostly about stars and ants. If she couldn’t be a writer she’d like to be a unicorn. Her passions include traveling, spending time with her smelly but adorable brothers in Auckland, and writing while eating ice cream – something she recommends to all budding wordsmiths.

If you could meet one writer who you look up to, to discuss your own writing with, who would it be?

That’s a tough one, I’d have to write down the following authors, throw them into a hat and pick one out! I have met Jung Chang previously in Berlin and discussed my writing with her then but I would love the opportunity to do so again, she gave me the best advice that I think about often, ‘you write great events slowly, just a little every day.’

  1. Kahlil Gibran
  2. Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  3. Pablo Neruda
  4. Grace Paley
  5. Jung Chang
  6. Janet Frame

What do you do when you are not inspired enough to write?/How do you get inspiration?

I like to go for walks around the city while I work through my ideas, stopping somewhere for a coffee where I might pull out a notebook and scrawl down various notes! I have a little display of around 14 journals full of my adventures abroad, they are my greatest treasures, overflowing with joy and grief, pure boredom and scribbled maps. I’m inspired by people who stand up for what they believe in, in the same way I’m moved by the intricacies of nature. I think a writer is a filter, all of the world moves through you and you learn to work with the residue, what remains.

If you could change one thing about your writing, would you and what would it be?

As you change, the page changes too. A lot of young writers often ask me, ‘how do I become a great writer?’ this was especially true of some of the students I worked with across Java in Indonesia. My response is always the same ‘live a great life so you have something great to write about.’ The things I’d like to improve upon can only come with time and experience, I cringe when I look at some of the things I wrote when I was a teenager but I keep it all because every word, every letter has its place within the tapestry of who you are.

What’s your favourite form of writing and why? Is it different to your favourite form of writing when you were in primary school?

When I was at primary school I loved writing stories, especially ones with a surprise ending – like the mum ends up being an alien, or the whole house turns into a boat and sails away, but my favourite things to write were speeches. My first speech didn’t go very well, I was 7 and I’d written it all about my desk. The day before I recited it to the class, my teacher changed the room around, in my speech I talked a lot about the little pod of desks nearest to me but of course everything was rearranged by then so most of the class laughed at me and no one clapped! I went home determined to turn things around, I rewrote the speech and learned it off by heart, the next day I begged my teacher for a second chance and I got through to the school finals. Sometimes I perform the poems that I write so I guess in a way, not much has changed in terms of my first love.

Do you ever have a mental block while writing? How do you overcome it?

There’s a little trick I have, a strategy that I put into place in my late teens. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, right from when I was just a teeny tiny girl. I realised that I was going to have lots of days where I might not be able to write anything because of writer’s block. Around 18 I chose particular songs to write to, just a handful that completely resonate with me, songs I knew I could never outgrow. If I come up against a blank page and I just can’t see what comes next, I play those songs and I write myself through the block.

Poets and their Poems

This is not a children’s event but I thought I would let all the adults know who check out my blog. I will be reading from my new book The Baker’s Thumbprint. It is a great line-up. I am delighted to get to hear the other poets read. So if you can make it drop in for some warming winter poems.

Poetry Night July 2013 email 2