Tag Archives: Gavin Bishop

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

 

9780143772514

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

 

Morepork

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

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

Hunt
Hunt
Hunt

Soaring through the sky, searching for moa…

By Hunter L Aged 9 LS5 Westmere School

 

Kiwi

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

 

Pīwakawaka
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

 

Fantail

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
holes
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

 

Tuatara

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

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

Beware
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
Cheers!

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
Indestructible
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

 

Ruru

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…

Flap
flitter
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.

Kōura
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

 

Saddleback
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

 

Wildlife

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

 

Manukura
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

 

Upokororo

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

 

Kārearea

Kārearea
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
carnivore
It’s beak is like a knife
Predator of the sky

By Elliot P Age 7 LS5 Westmere School

 

Kingfisher

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

 

 

NEW ZEALAND FAIRY TERN

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

 

THE BRIGHTEST NIGHT

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

 

 

PĪWAKAWAKA

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

 

 

PARTY IN THE SHED

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

 

 

Fantail

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
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 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
famishing
food.
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

 

 

 

 

Poetry Box November challenge: Wildlife in Aotearoa poems

9780143772514

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

 

Check out my review of Wildlife in Aotearoa here.

 

Watch my deadline as I won’t be here from 28th!

 

This is my last poetry challenge of the year! It has been a wonderful year full of poetry that has made my heart glad!

As soon as I got a copy of Gavin Bishop’s gorgeous new Wildlife in Aotearoa, I knew I wanted to create a challenge inspired by this extremely important book. It is beautifully illustrated, jam-packed with fascinating facts and raises important questions.

I have spent ages devouring Gavin’s book – musing on the animals that are no longer with us and those that are under threat. I catch his kereru drawing and think about how breathtakingly wonderful it is when kereru squat in our korokio, cabbage trees.

 

THE CHALLENGE

 

I want to make a poetry map

of wildlife (ANIMALS) in Aotearoa

with poems you send me.

 

 

MY HOT TIPS

You can write from your own experience of seeing an animal (bird, fish, animal) or you can write from research.

I highly recommend getting a copy of the book (get your own copy of from a library).

 

Habitats: rivers, lakes, sea, estuaries, wetlands, bush, farms, mountains, cities, towns, houses (think ants or spiders or cats or dogs), museums (think bones and fossils)

Time: night or day animals

Status: Extinct, endangered, thriving, wild, domesticated, farmed

 

Your poem: for this challenge I will do fact checks! I want you to help me build a poetry record of our wildlife.

Your poem: think about sounds, movements, skin, where the animal lives, fascinating facts, your experiences of it, your discoveries.

Your poem: Think about the way you set your poem out, how long will your lines be? Do you need to make up words (onomatopoeia)?

Your poem: Hunt for fresh similes.

Your poem: Listen to the rhythm as you read it.

Your poem: Poems can be short or long! Which words show me the animal?

 

Illustration: You may also send a drawing or painting if you like.

 

h a v e      p o e t r y      F U N

 

Deadline: 25th November 7 pm

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

Don’t forget to put  WILDLIFE 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 30th November. I will put all the names in a hat and give Wildlife in Aotearoa to one poet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Box review: Gavin Bishop’s glorious Wildlife of Aotearoa

9780143772514.jpg

 

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

 

Gavin Bishop, Tainui, Ngāti Awa, is an award-winning children’s author and illustrator with over 60  books to his name. His honours and awards include the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal for services to New Zealand children’s literature and the Te Waka Toi Ngā Tohu ā Tā Kingi Ihaka/Sir Kingi Ihaka Award for services to Māori Art and Culture. The Storylines Gavin Bishop Award for Illustration was established in 2009 and in 2013 he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

In 2019 Gavin was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Non-fiction.

 

Last year, Gavin’s sumptuous and significant Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story won the supreme Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award and the Elsie Locke Award for non-fiction. Wildlife of Aotearoa is a companion to this book, and it is equally sumptuous and equally significant.

Under their Puffin imprint, Penguin Random House has produced a large hardback book with the look and feel of a book-treasure, a taonga.

 

Screen Shot 2019-11-01 at 9.57.26 AM.png

 

First up are the heavenly illustrations – I make my way through the story they tell in wash and ink. Animated gulls, whales, penguins lead to moa, kea and kiwi; you will find red deer, border collies, domestic cats and cows. Each creature appears with a fascinating fact and where possible the name in te reo. Significant!

I especially love the whale page. The blue whale pakake nui is the largest animal that has ever lived and can grow up to 33 metres long. Try measuring that out!

 

Each page is like an extremely powerful magnet that holds your eyes because you can’t stop looking and reading. I love the colour-washed backgrounds that might be ocean depths or night sky or forest shades. I love the textures, the movement and the expressions of all the animals. I love the sentences so perfectly crafted.

I also love the way wildlife is everywhere – Gavin shows us wildlife in oceans, rivers, the bush and the sky but he also shows us wildlife in cities. There is one page devoted to the wildlife in a house. Fascinating!

 

Screen Shot 2019-11-01 at 9.57.17 AM.png

 

Another page shows a catalogue of 25 animals that became well known: for example Shrek the sheep, Janie the chimpanzee, Woofwoof the tūī. Extremely fascinating!

 

Making a book is always a journey for the maker, a thing of discovery – Gavin has structured the book so it is a journey of discovery for the reader. Yes it is a catalogue of our wildlife beginning in the ocean, ‘Tangaroa’s water world’, and moving through land and sky. You will find yourself in a museum looking at old bones, or peeking into the pitch of night or the sweet pink of dawn. You never know what the next page will bring.

Gavin shows us the native animals and the new settlers. I love the way the book makes me think hard about things. The landscape and the wildlife of Aotearoa has changed drastically since the arrival of the colonists:

 

With European settlement, land changes that were started by early Māori happened much more quickly, and 80 per cent of Aotearoa’s original bush has since been cleared. Many colonists worked hard to transform the “strange” landscape as quickly as possible by introducing foreign plants and animals to make it look more like “home”. A new and hungry breed of wildlife was released, or escaped, into the countryside. Humans, rats, cats, stoats, and possums killed off about 45 per cent of the native bird species of Aotearoa.

We are at a wildlife crisis point in Aotearoa so this sumptuous utterly gorgeous book is necessary reading. You will find animals that are thriving, endangered animals and animals no longer with us. And that makes me both sad and glad.

You will find tricky questions that people are fighting hard to solve. We can’t swim or fish in many of our waterways because more than half are polluted. Farmers work hard to make a living and feed people who eat meat but some farms may not survive as we try and deal with climate change. There is a growing movement of young people wanting to save the planet. Laws will be passed, we will be educated on what we can do to help protect our wildlife, our waterways, our bush and our skies. People have worked hard to create predator-free sanctuaries for birds and sealife under threat.

A book like this brings our wildlife so much closer into view and that matters. This is a book to share and talk about. This is a book to leap and think and write and draw from.

Gavin has worked hard on this stunning book and his mahi and aroha shows. It is a labour of love that comes out of a love of drawing and writing, and a love of Aotearoa. This book deserves a place on a bookshelf in every school library and every home.

 

To celebrate I have designed my final poetry challenge of the year, November’s challenge around this book.

 

Penguin Random House author page

 

Cook’s Cook: Poetry Box talks to Gavin Bishop

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Gavin Bishop, Cook’s Cook: the cook who cooked for Captain Cook, Gecko Press, 2018

 

 

Gavin Bishop’s latest book Cook’s Cook: the cook who cooked for Captain Cook is a reading treasure trove.

Enter the book and you will go on a long sea-voyage of discovery – not from the view of the famous people on board but from the one-handed cook, John Thompson.

Cook’s Cook is a a bit like a cook book crossed with a history book crossed with a story book crossed with the most delightful picture book. There are fascinating facts, gorgeous drawings, little imaginings. Every page holds your interest. I definitely learnt new things.

Because the book was so sumptuous and filled me with such curiosity, I invited Gavin to join me in an slow-paced email conversation.

If I lived in the Wairarapa I would have gone to a Cook’s Cook event in August: you got to dine on a three-course meal inspired by the one-handed cook who fed Captain James Cook and crew aboard the HMS Endeavour. Wow!

Gavin, Tainui, Ngāti Awa, has published over 70 books and has been translated into 12 languages.

 

 

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Our conversation

 

Paula: I have lingered over Cook’s Cook for days because every page is full of little fascinations. What kind of research did you do for a book with such splendid detail?

Gavin: I read a lot of books about the voyage of the HMS Endeavour and Lieutenant James Cook. There are lot written about this expedition. Besides modern histories there are the logs and journals written by various people who travelled on the ship. And there are books written for adults as well as for children. The people at Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby, England were very helpful when I emailed them with questions and so were the librarians at the Australian Maritime Museum.

It was while I was reading some material on a particularly useful web-site that I came across the name of John Thompson. He had only one hand and was the cook on the Endeavour, much to James Cook’s initial disgust when Thompson was appointed by the Admiralty. There is little known about him and he was barely mentioned in any of the ship’s records, even when he died of dysentery in Batavia. Joseph Banks, in his journal, complimented him on his cuttlefish soup but that is about it. From my point of view, this was a good thing. I could give him any sort of personality I wanted to.

 

Paula: I get goosebumps reading the old journals! Did anyone draw or paint food? In logs or journals or in their role as artist? Tupaia for example? I loved his watercolour and pencil drawings.

Gavin: I didn’t find any drawings specifically of food. I found a few scenes of life below deck in the galley or on the mess deck where, if food was included, it was incidental. I did read though, that the ships belonging to the British navy were stocked before each voyage with provisions supplied by the Victualling Board. The admiralty had its own farms, gardens, butchers and bakers that provided meat, bread (biscuits), grain and vegetables and fruit for their ships that were setting out from England in large numbers to explore the world during the 18th century.

The only drawing by Tupaia of food that I know of, is the famous one where he is offering a lobster to Joseph Banks. Tupaia wasn’t a great artist in the European naturalistic style, but his drawings give us some very interesting and important information. A lot of people on the board the Endeavour, but probably not the crew, produced drawings. It was the only way of making a visual record of the things and places they saw. James Cook, the captain, drew a lot too and when all the official artists died after their time in Batavia the scientific men in Bank’s team and some of the officers all had to their bit with pen and paper.

 

Paula: I spent a few months this year cooking with one hand and it is tricky! It is hard to imagine how John Thompson did this for a ship’s crew, but your book has brought life on board alive through both drawings and words. What was the most surprising thing you discovered (apart from a cook with one hand)?

Gavin: Well, as John Thompson said himself. “It only takes one hand to stir the porridge!” To be fair, he had help. A member of the crew from each table on the mess deck was rostered for a week to help with the mixing of the puddings and the serving of the food.

I came across many strange bits of information, things I had never heard of. A ‘fother’, the name of the patch made from a sail stuck down with a mixture of teased rope and animal dung was something new to me.

I also found it intriguing to read that George Dorlton, one of the two Jamaican servants and an ex-slave, part of the Joseph Banks party, was a qualified plant collector. He had previously worked for a botanist. It was suddenly obvious why Banks, the naturalist, had taken him along on the Endeavour.

 

Paula: Were you tempted by any of the recipes? The albatross recipe seemed gourmet with the prune sauce and ginger but so many things made my stomach curl. Like eating albatross or dog!

Gavin: If the texture and flavour was right I think I could eat most of things mentioned in ‘Cook’s Cook’. I’m sure a vegetarian dog would make a delicious stew, but I think albatross might be a bit salty and strong, rather like muttonbird. It would be an acquired taste.

I was interested to see that quite a lot of spices, pepper and ginger were used in the cooking on ships at the time of the Endeavour voyage. Of course as the food onboard aged, it would become very undesirable. Joseph Banks mentioned that the taste of weevils in the ship’s biscuits was very spicy. Others knocked their biscuits on the table to shake the weevils out. Some crew held the biscuit over a flame to encourage the weevils to leave.

The salted beef and pork would have been a culinary challenge though, especially after it had been in barrels for a couple of years. There is mention of it being towed behind the ship in a net in an attempt to soften it up and reduce the salt content.

 

Paula: What was the hardest thing doing this book and what was the most rewarding?

Gavin: The most difficult thing about this book was dealing with the huge amount of information that exists about the voyage of the Endeavour and the people on board. Deciding what to include and what to leave out was a constant challenge. It was rewarding though, when I realised I could deal with this problem by concentrating on the cook’s story and trying to see the historical events that took place, through his eyes.

In my book the voyage unfolds more or less as it did according to James Cook’s journals, all the dates and places are historically correct but the emphasis on certain details is skewed by what I thought might have been interesting or important to the cook, John Thompson. Of course that had a lot to do with food, and later, when the ship was sailing around Aotearoa, it was his hope for a little bit of glory. He wanted a river or a mountain named after him. And like his captain he failed to see the country was already named by the tangata whenua, the Maori. I have shown this in the illustrations where the faces of Ranginui and Papatuanuku are seen in the sky and in the land. Their presence was there for anyone who looked with a perceptive and intelligent eye.

 

Thanks Gavin!

Gecko Press page

Video of Gavin talking about his new book

 

 

 

A festival of letters to NZ children’s authors: Hendrix (8), Hunter (8) and Alex (8) write to Gavin Bishop

 

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Dear Gavin 

We like your Three Little Pigs book. We have two favourite parts. One was when the pig makes the wolf fall into the pot of hot water and then eats him up because the wolf was tricked.

Then one of the pigs hid in a butter churn to scare the wolf and he was easily tricked again. Silly wolf we say. 

I hope you keep writing and illustrating more books for children in New Zealand. 

From 

Hendrix and Hunter 

Aged 8 Year 4 

St Francis Primary School 

 

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Dear Gavin Bishop 

Your books to me are top mark. The Three Little Pigs is cleverly written because it is not the same but it is not different than the original fairy tale. Is this what you think too? 

I see on the title page you are both the author and illustrator of this book which must mean you practice a lot. I mean a lot. Then my teacher showed me Aotearoa and WOW that is a lot of work in that book. 

I am sure lots of children in New Zealand love your books too. 

Alex 

Aged 8 Year 4 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A festival of letters to NZ children’s authors: Gavin Bishop writes to Paula Green

 

 

Dear Paula,

I am very pleased to see Poetry Box has been launched again for this year. I always enjoy reading the letters and poems submitted to this site. And it is with tremendous pride that I remind myself from time to time that I have had the odd poem printed here too. In fact I am so excited thinking about it I might even slip on my white poetry glove and have a go at dashing off another poem while I’m in the mood. Stand back!

All the best Paula.

Keep up the great work,

Gavin B

 

Dear Gavin B

What a lovely letter to get at the start of the festival. I am so excited you might slip your white poetry glove on and have a go at another poem. I do hope you send me the poem so I can read it.

BTW I really really love your big beautiful Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story.

 

Warm greetings

from Paula G

 

The festival of letters challenge is here

 

 

Gavin Bishop’s Aotearoa is a splendid thing

 

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Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story by Gavin Bishop (Penguin Random House, 2017)

 

‘There was plenty of kaimoana in the sea.’

This book is like a treasure house of New Zealand history with text and illustrations from one of our very best children’s authors – Gavin Bishop. Penguin Random House have produced a gorgeous hardback book (it is very big and very beautiful!) that celebrates such a wonderful labour of love through publishing care.

Gavin shines a reading searchlight in all directions. History is like a prism – it has many ways of being viewed.

Aotearoa should be in every home and in every school because it is a book where you can lose yourself meandering and you can discover all kinds of things. You have to peer closely into each page to find things in the words and the images. Magnificent!

Gavin begins the Aotearoa story when an asteroid hit Earth (65 million years ago!).

He takes us through arrivals of peoples, wars, treaties, more wars.

We travel through the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the sports we play and the way our country has extraordinary natural beauty.

He shows us famous people and people who have told our stories, made art, films and music.

He reminds us of how we have protested – how we speak out.

That makes the book political, but it is also personal because it feels like it is my story, your story, and our story.

 

The book is a taonga that reminds us of our taonga and how important it is for us to join hands and find ways to care for this place we love. I absolutely love it.

 

Penguin Random House page

Gavin Bishop’s web page