National Poetry Day Series

Today’s National Poetry Day highlight features poetry from Ora Nui.

Ora Nui 2012 is a new biennial Maori literary journal edited and published by Auckland writer Anton Blank. The journal showcases emerging Maori writers and includes poetry, prose, short fiction, plays and short film scripts. The next issue which will be published next year will include work from Maori and Aboriginal writers.

Copies of the 2012 edition of the journal are available at the Women’s Bookshop Ponsonby, Unity Wellington and UBS Dunedin. Interested readers can also email the editor/publisher at

Here we bring you a few poems from the inaugural edition of Ora Nui. We encourage readers to find the journal in a shop near you! It’s a beautiful collection.

Hinemoana Baker, Politics

We watched a documentary about six Maori women writers.
I had a bad cold.
My nose was so blocked I had to breathe through my tears ducts to eat.
In the corner of the room the tarata tree ached towards the sunlight.
The writer on the documentary said “My background is law and these statutes are real.”
The Tohunga Suppression Act, the Suppression of Rebellion Act.
I said It’s time for a snack.
You said We haven’t got any cheese I’ll go to the dairy.
I said No point can’t taste it anyway.
You said No I’ll go I’ll get some corn chips too.
I said Can you pick me up some politics while you’re there babe I seem to have run out.
You said No point you couldn’t taste them anyway.


Marino Blank, August

It’s a perfect day
Poets’ words
I curled into my cardigan
And walked to the chip shop
The cool of the wind
Reminded me to button up and roll warmth around my neck
August is the month of promise
Life after death
Sees Spring and the birth of the garden
My heart smiled

Earlier in the day walking took me to the foot of Puketapapa
Mt Roskill reigned supreme
State Highway 20 snaked at her feet
A river of cars passed in silence from where we stood
Waharoa the gateway of mind-shifts
Balustrade of carved edifices faced
North-South-East and West
The sun caught the colour of stainless steel
A twentieth century shimmer
Puketapapa My Turangawaewae
Meditations shape-shifted this emerald cone
A winding path
The sound of the silent wing
Ruru Guardian of the Night
Let out his cry
I relaxed attentive to the moment
Such a perfect day


Moana Nepia, Ka tangi te ruru

Ka tangi te ruru,
alone in the night…
rising, circling…
echoes reply…
to river,
and shore.
Koutuku north,
through floating mists,
ki Whetumatarau…
my grief-laden tears.
to river,
and shore.
Grasp these weary bones
and carry me,
Let paddles sink deep,
into beating hearts…
to follow the tide
Keep silver cliffs close,
so our faces be seen,
with incoming tide,
and warm rising sun.
At Kakepo rest… canoes hauled high.
Let the traps be set,
and the rats be caught.
My people will feed you…
my mana


Reihana Robinson, On our Knees or Homage to the Potato

In war zones agriculture is the first casualty
The enemy must be made hungry
You read stories about how she fed her family on grass
Boiling water with a strand of herb, a strip of bark
How good one raspberry served on a leaf
How good

The potato’s true worth
Prances onto the stage in groggy
Sleep-deprived dirty glory

Here I am
Je suis ici
I am here

On our knees sheltering from a storm of bullets
Begging lusting
Oh God of Potato teach us this gratitude


Kawiti Waetford, He kai kōrero…

“Ko te kai a te Rangatira, he kōrero…”
Nau mai ngā kai o aku whēinga!
Na Tāne i hora; na Rongo, na Haumie i whakatōngia, kia tupu.
Hua ake nā ko te tōmairangi, rere kau ki uta, rere kau ki tai
Rere kau ki ngā ngutu o Tāwhiri, nānā te hau marangai
Waiwaiā te terenga waiora –
Mōu te kai o te wao
Mōu te kai o te ngākina
Kokō te whare o Tāne – kōmiria te papa, kōmiria te whenua
Kokō te marae o Tangaroa – kauria te ākau, kauria te tai
Mahue ake nā ki ngā ringaringa o te kete
Te kete mā-puna, te kete kirikiri-wai
Whakahokia ake ki te toto kāinga, kaingia
Warua, kōngia
Poroa, kakaungia
Kōhua taku kete, kaingia kia pau
Mā ngā ringaringa te wera o te kai
Mā ngā ngutu te kai o te kupu
Kei ngā kupu o aku tupuna whēinga te oranga
Kihai, kua matemate te wā
Kua tanū te mere pounamu
Kua pūhuki te koi o te tewhatewha
Kua puruheka katoa ngā mokomōkai
Kainga e te Rō!
Ko te toenga ihotanga o aku whēinga
Ko te kupu – kaingia kia ora!


For a complete list of National Poetry Day events around the country, go here.