Tag Archives: Haumoana School

The Treasury Interviews: Amy interviews James Brown

About Amy Fippard
I was born in 2006 and live in Te Awanga.  I have younger brother called Ben and a dog called Sally.  I like playing with Sally and grooming her.  I like swimming. I am in Year 3, aged 8, and go to Haumoana School.


James Brown

James Brown

James Brown was born in 1966 and grew up in Palmerston North.  He now lives in Wellington.  He has been a finalist in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 3 times. He has written a number of books of poetry.


What are the most important ingredients for you in a poem?
It’s more about what I don’t like – eg poems that are too obvious and soppy. I’m always listening to a poem’s words to hear its music. And I have a soft spot for list poems – poems that are just lists of interesting things. But I also like poems that tell little  stories!
What poetry did you read as a child?
I read Winnie the Pooh, which had a lot of poetry in it. Plus Edward Lear – ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat’, ‘The Jumblies.’ My own early poems had regular rhymes and rhythms, which was good for learning about rhyme and rhythm. But free verse – no regular rhyme or rhythm – is subtler.

 James has a poem in A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children called ‘The Bicycle.’ How big was your bike?
Well, the person in the poem isn’t me, and the bike is imaginary too. But I do have a red mountain bike that I bike everywhere on, and I did have a red bike when I was a kid.
Where did you get your bike?
A bike shop. But the bike in the poem is imagined. Red seemed the flashest colour.
What colour was your basket?
I’ve never had a bike with a basket. The bike in the poem needed a basket for the deliveries. My mum had a cane basket on her bike, though.
Why were you always lucky?
Again, the person in the poem isn’t me. I was actually trying to be a bit clever by having the kid think they were lucky when maybe their parents had just given them a bike so they could deliver things. There are two published versions of the poem: one says ‘the deliveries’ and the other says ‘his deliveries’. The ‘his’ means the father’s deliveries, which means the kid might not really be so lucky, even though they think they are and really do love the bicycle. I changed it to ‘the deliveries’ because I had to think how the kid would say it, and I thought they’d more likely just say ‘the deliveries’.
What did you deliver in your basket?
I did have a milk round when I was at high school, and I had to get up at 4.30am and bike to where it began. If the weather was bad the night before, I would lie in bed knowing I’d be delivering milk in it the next morning. But I delivered the milk from a trolly I pushed. I never used my bike to deliver anything. I never had a paper run. I imagined the kid in the poem was delivering groceries so they would have to bike all the way to someone’s house. That’s different from a milk round or paper run where you stop at each letterbox.


Thanks James and Amy for a fascinating interview. Really interesting how poems make up their own truth.

The Treasury Interviews: Joni interviews Renee Liang


About Joni  Year 3 (7 ½ years old), Haumoana School.

  1. My mother and father named me after Joni Mitchell (one of their favourite folk singers), Dad’s grandma Beatrice Ashton, and of course, I have my Dad’s family name (Uytendaal – pronounced Oh-ten-darl), originally from the Netherlands.
  2. I was born in Tasmania and then I moved to New Zealand four and a half years ago.
  3. I live in Te Awanga with my sister, Erin, and mother and father.
  4. I love to write stories and draw pictures. At the moment I like to write about haunted places (mansions, streets, ships) and draw people and plants and animals.
  5. My birthday is on October the fourteenth, the day after my father’s birthday. This year I’d like to go camping under the stars with a few of my mates and family at Kuripapango and eat birthday cake and hard-boiled lollies!


Bio about Renee Liang

Renee Liang is a paediatrician (a doctor who specialises in children’s illnesses) who also writes poems and plays. Her parents moved to New Zealand from Hong Kong before Renee was born. She has two sisters. Her Chinese Wen-Wei which means literary blossom. She lives in Auckland with her husband and two children.

When did you decide you wanted to be an author?
When I was about your age. When I was six my teacher started reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, by CS Lewis, to us in class.  I must have talked about that book all the time because for my seventh birthday my parents bought me the entire set of Narnia books.  From then on I was hooked on reading – whenever I got the chance, and even sometimes when I was supposed to be doing something else, my nose was in a book!  I remember reading C S Lewis’ introduction to his stories, when he said that he wrote the stories that he himself wanted to read. That made complete sense to me. And from that day on I wanted to be an author.
What is the first story you wrote called?
It was called “The Hole In the Forest”, and I wrote and illustrated it aged five. I still have it. It features a tiger who falls through a hole in the forest into a magical world. And it has a golden spine, made of stapled cardboard.
Where are you from?
I am from New Zealand, but my parents are from Hong Kong and they were born in China.  My family has always loved travelling – my parents must have been on the biggest adventure of their lives when they decided to come a third of the way across the world to live here!!  I have their sense of adventure to thank for my wonderful life and opportunities.  I love to travel too. I’ve been to Europe, Africa, South America and Antarctica.
When do you mostly like to write stories?
My most creative time is at night. I’ve always been a night owl. There’s something about staying up past everyone else, and staring out my dark window, and dreaming of far away worlds.  Sometimes I’ve stayed up so late it becomes morning again.
Why did you choose to be an author?
I don’t think people choose to become writers….writing finds them.  When people tell me that stories bubble up inside them and they can’t stop thinking about them, then I know they are true writers. And my advice to them is, to write. To give in to the delicious urges and let themselves indulge in creating these worlds and characters that only they could make.
Who is your inspiration?
I’m inspired all the time by everyone that I meet. When I meet people, whether it be in my job as a children’s doctor or at the supermarket or elsewhere in my daily life, I start wondering about what it is that makes them tick.  Sometimes the wondering turns into a character in a story. Other times I learn something from the things that they tell me.  I read a lot too, and watch a lot of plays. I think, ‘oh, this is an interesting question’ or ‘I’ve never seen a story told this way before’, and it all goes into my brain for later.  Right now I’m watching my kids (a toddler, and a baby) a lot as they’re constantly exploring and learning. They teach me how to see the world in new ways.
7.  What do you like to write about most?
I write about whatever’s affecting me in my life. It’s changed over the years.  I wrote a lot about love; about family; and about who I thought I was.  I’m used to people asking me where I’m from and complimenting me on my English, even though I was born here! So I write about identity.  Now that I have kids, I’m starting to think about writing stories for them.

Thanks for the questions Joni, and also sharing the information about yourself!  I hope to read some of your writing one day. Renee


Note from Paula: What a fantastic interview. I loved reading this.  Thanks Joni and Renee. Renee has a cool poem in A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children called ‘Caterpillar’ about a children’s game.